With the NFL schedule out, what does an ideal start look like for the Chicago Bears?

Is there a path to 10 wins?

Chicago Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds celebrates with teammates after intercepting a Las Vegas Raiders pass during their game Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The schedule is here. The Bears know where and when they’ll be playing all 17 games during the 2024 season.

Things kick off with a Week 1 matchup against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 8 at Soldier Field. All eyes will be watching rookie quarterback Caleb Williams. He will begin his NFL career in front of the home fans at Soldier Field.

It will be the start of a new era for the No. 1 overall draft pick. The Bears believe Williams will be the right type of leader for this team from the quarterback position.

You can really tell [Caleb Williams is] comfortable in his own skin and he is who he is. His personality starts, his light comes out from the inside. You can certainly feel that energy.”

—  Matt Eberflus, Bears head coach

“You can really tell he’s comfortable in his own skin and he is who he is,” head coach Matt Eberflus said. “His personality starts, his light comes out from the inside. You can certainly feel that energy. He’s a one-plus-one-equals-three guy. He’s an enhancer. He’s a guy that brings out the best in people.”

Sept. 8 will be the first true test of what Williams has.

Hot start coming?

Chicago Bears No. 1 draft pick quarterback Caleb Williams listens to reporters during a news conference before the NFL football team's rookie camp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., Friday, May 10, 2024.

There are a few unique aspects to the Bears’ schedule. Notably, they don’t play an NFC North division opponent until mid-November. On paper, the back half of the schedule looks much harder than the first half.

The Bears begin the season hosting Tennessee, then visit Houston in Week 2, head to Indianapolis in Week 3, host the Rams in Week 4 and host Carolina in Week 5. After that they have a Week 6 trip to London to play Jacksonville before a Week 7 bye.

So what does a good start look like for the Bears?

It will depend a lot upon how quickly Williams adjusts to life in the NFL. The Bears have surrounded him with talented weapons in running back D’Andre Swift and receivers DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze.

But if Williams is as good as advertised, with this Bears defense behind him, the team should be able to see results quickly. Bears fans would probably be fine with their team going 3-3 before the bye, but there’s also a path to 4-2 or even 5-1.

The Titans and Panthers are winnable games that the Bears will be favored to win. Houston is expected to be the toughest matchup during the first six weeks. The Colts, Rams and Jaguars are probably all toss ups.

Beating the Colts on the road won’t be an easy task. Indianapolis was a tough opponent last season, even after quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. The Rams were sneaky good in 2023, but the Bears get them at Soldier Field this time. A matchup against Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars in London feels like anything can happen.

Even if the Bears do finish only 3-3 during that stretch, they have three winnable games after the bye at Washington, at Arizona and hosting New England. The Bears need to capitalize on that stretch because they have six division games over the final eight weeks, plus a matchup at San Francisco.

If the Bears are 4-2 by the Week 7 bye, Chicago is going to be going bonkers.

What are the Bears playoff chances?

Since the NFL expanded the season to 17 games in 2021, no 10-win team has ever missed the postseason. So what’s the path to 10 wins look like for the Bears?

Sports betting oddsmakers currently have the Bears’ over/under win total listed at 8.5 wins. There is certainly a world in which this team finds a way to double-digit victories.

To do that, the Bears are going to have to beat good teams – more specifically, they’ll have to beat good teams in November and December. They’ve probably got to beat the Packers and the Lions at least once apiece, and possibly sweep the Vikings.

If the Bears take care of business against the worst teams on their schedule – the Panthers, Patriots, Commanders, Titans and Cardinals – that gets them to five wins. There’s at least six games that feel like tossups: two against the Vikings, and one apiece against the Rams, Seahawks, Colts and Jaguars.

That’s 11 games right there that are winnable. Realistically, most NFL teams have one or two duds against poor opponents and one surprise win against a quote-unquote superior opponent.

Let’s say the Bears win eight of those 11 games against bad and mediocre teams. That means they will need to find two wins out of the remaining pool: two games vs. the Packers, two vs. the Lions, and one apiece against the 49ers and Texans.

Ten wins and a postseason berth is attainable, but it’s going to take some work. Shaw Local analyst Marc Silverman has the Bears winning 11 games. Any Bears fan would be happy with that.

The Bears defense will need to be playing at top form, as it did during the second half of last season. Williams will have to be as good as advertised, and he’ll have to do it from the jump. Maybe most importantly, the Bears will need injury luck to go their way. That’s something that no team can control.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.