Bears visit Lions for Thanksgiving matinee
Mark your calendars -- the Bears open the season at home for the fifth straight year, at noon on Sunday, Sept. 7 against the Buffalo Bills.
They play five prime-time games, plus a Thanksgiving Day special against the Lions in Detroit.
After the season opener, the Bears play four of the next five games and six of the next eight on the road. But they're home for five of their final seven games -- and, of those final seven games, only one is against a team that had a wining record last season.
Of the first eight Bears games, only one is against an NFC North opponent. Then from Week 10 to Week 17, coach Marc Trestman's team plays five games against NFC North foes.
The Bears' first prime-time game is in Week 2 -- the first of two Sunday night games -- Sept. 22 on the road against the San Francisco 49ers in the first game at their new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. The next week, the Bears are in prime time on the road again, against the New York Jets for the first of two Monday night games.
After an off date in Week 9, the Bears return to prime time the following week, on the road again, against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, Nov. 9.
After spending Thanksgiving in Detroit for an 11:30 a.m. game, the Bears play on back-to-back Thursdays for the first time in franchise history, when they play the Dallas Cowboys at home in prime time.
Twelve days later they host the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
The Bears' last Thanksgiving Day game was in 2004, a 21-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in North Texas. The Bears last played the Lions on Thanksgiving in 1999, a 21-17 defeat.
The regular-season finale is against the Vikings in Minnesota on Dec. 28. That game will be played at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, where the Vikings will play for two years while a new, domed stadium is being built at the site of their previous home, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
The Bears host the Vikings on Nov. 16 and the Lions in the penultimate weekend of the regular season. That gives them five games against NFC North opponents from Week 10 to Week 17.
Two weeks before that crucial stretch begins, the Bears travel to New England to play the Patriots at noon Sunday in Week 8.
The combined 2013 record of this season's opponents is 125-127-4.
The Bears have also confirmed dates and times for their preseason games. They will host the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. Then they visit the Seahawks in Seattle on Friday, Aug. 22, at 9 p.m. and the Browns in Cleveland on Thursday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m.
The Jaguars game will be televised nationally on ESPN, while the other three preseason contests will be shown live on WFLD-TV in Chicago.
Bears 2014 schedule
(last year's record in parentheses)
Sept. 7: BUFFALO BILLS (6-10) noon
Sept. 14: at San Francisco 49ers (12-4) 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 22: at New York Jets (8-8), Monday 7:40 p.m.
Sept. 28: GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-7-1) noon
Oct. 5: at Carolina Panthers (12-4) noon
Oct. 12: at Atlanta Falcons (4-12) noon
Oct. 19: MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-8) noon
Oct. 26: at New England Patriots (12-4) noon
Nov. 2: OFF
Nov. 9: at Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 16: MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-10-1) noon
Nov. 23: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-12) noon
Nov. 27: at Detroit Lions (7-9) Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
Dec. 4: COWBOYS (8-8) Thursday, 7:25 p.m.
Dec. 15: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5) Monday, 7:40 p.m.
Dec. 21: DETROIT LIONS (7-9) noon
Dec. 28: at Minnesota (5-10-1) noon
• Check back later for the complete Bears schedule and follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.