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updated: 4/19/2013 12:35 PM

Bears open with pair of home games

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The Bears open their 2013 season with back-to-back Sunday home games, but it won't be easy.

Both games are against 2012 playoff teams that had 10-6 records. The Cincinnati Bengals visit Soldier Field on Sept. 8, and the Minnesota Vikings follow Sept. 15.

It will be the first time the Bears have started a season with back-to-back home games since 1999, when they split a pair in Dick Jauron's first year as head coach. The games against the Bengals and Vikings are two of the seven the Bears will play against playoff teams.

After that the Bears play back-to-back road games, first in Pittsburgh against the Steelers (8-8 last season) on Sunday night, Sept. 22, their first of four prime-time games. A week later rookie head coach Marc Trestman's team is in Detroit against the Lions (4-12).

The Bears come home to face the New Orleans Saints (7-9) at noon Sunday, Oct. 6. Four days later the Bears are at home against the New York Giants (9-7).

Unless Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is on the same rehab schedule that Derrick Rose is using, he should be back on the field by the time the Bears visit the nation's capital Oct. 20 for their next game, a Week 7 matchup against the defending NFC East champions.

After a bye in Week 8, the Bears travel to Green Bay for a Monday night game against the defending NFC North-champion Packers (11-5) on Nov. 4. Two weeks later the Bears host the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at noon on Sunday, Nov. 17.

That's followed by a five-week stretch that includes four road games, at the St. Louis Rams (7-8-1), at the Vikings, home against the Cowboys (8-8) and then at the Cleveland Browns (5-11) and at the Philadelphia Eagles (4-12).

The season concludes at home on Dec. 29 against the Packers.

The Bears had the NFL limit of five prime-time games last season, going 2-3. They played three times on Monday night with a 2-1 record. They play on Monday Night Football twice this season.

Exact dates also have been released for the preseason.

The Bears open at Carolina against the Panthers on Friday, Aug. 9, then host the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, Aug. 15. They travel to Oakland to face the Raiders on Friday, Aug. 23, and conclude the preseason with a home game on Thursday, Aug. 29, against the Browns.

•Follow Bob's NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.

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