Bears release 2020 schedule, but it's anyone's guess if it will be played
Most folks give the NFL credit for doing all it can to keep its fans involved, entertained and quite frankly distracted while we battle through the country's ongoing national health crisis.
It's on schedule delivery of the beginning of the new league year and free agency and draft were both big winners.
And there is certainly nothing wrong with the league deciding to release its 2020 schedule Thursday night, three-to-four weeks later than usual.
But with so many unknowns and factors outside of anyone's control including the NFL owners, -- a condition that particular group is uniquely unfamiliar with and possibly ill-equipped to handle -- are they really just pandering to their base with this move and risking backlash if and when they are forced to make adjustments and fail to deliver on this promise?
Obviously Roger Goodell and his bosses decided it's a risk worth taking.
NFL teams are far better equipped to play games in empty stadiums or to 20 percent or 30 percent capacity more than any other major sport. This is because the overwhelming bulk of their revenues come from broadcast and merchandising -- with ticket revenue, concessions and parking making up no more than a percentage of each team's profits rather than overhead.
And while it would certainly be different and take some getting used to, there are multiple ways to dress up the TV show to account for the lack of butts in the seats.
Multiple sources from a number of different teams have assured me the owners are bound and determined to have a 2020 season, so it's reasonable to assume there will be games of some kind at some point.
But the two biggest factors completely out of their control are when will states fully open for business, and as long as there is an active, virile, highly contagious and potentially lethal virus in transmission, how will they make it safe for the players?
It is hard to imagine a more dangerous activity than playing football anywhere COVID-19 might be present.
While I haven't heard anyone address this issue yet, we can bet there will be some players that will wisely tell their bosses, you can play the games, but I'm not until the risk of it killing me is absolutely zero, and I dare you to try and fire me for refusing to risk my life.
It is all a huge puzzle that is clearly missing multiple pieces at the moment.
But we do now have the Chicago Bears "proposed" 2020 schedule so how did they do?
We have known for some time they will play the Packers, Vikings, Lions, Texans, Colts, Bucs, Saints and Giants at home and their three division opponents and the Titans, Jaguars, Falcons, Panthers and Rams on the road.
We now know in what order they'll play them and when.
As I have preached for years in a league where it's a given teams will go from last place to first and vice versa every year, and the odds are extremely high no more than half of last year's playoff teams will make it back to the postseason this year it's a waste of time to talk about the difficulty of the schedule.
We know it includes only seven games against 2019 playoff teams and seven clubs that posted losing records last year.
But among those losers many expect the Colts and Bucs to take big steps forward this year and the 9-7 Rams from last year could very well be a playoff contender again.
Whether it's the Bears defense they love or the networks just aren't as down on the Bears offense as much as others are, the Bears still got four of a maximum five prime time dates
This includes the sixth Thursday of the season at home vs. Tom Brady's and Rob Gronkowski's Bucs, a Monday night in Los Angeles vs. the Rams and one at home three weeks later vs. the Vikings and the last Sunday night in November at Lambeau Field.
The bye doesn't come until Week 11. That will give the Bears a chance to rest and heal for a tough closing stretch against the Packers, at home versus the Lions and Texans, on the road at Minnesota and Jacksonville and then a home finale rematch with the Pack.
Another edge is the first six games of the season against Detroit (3-12), the Giants (4-12), Falcons (7-9), Colts (7-9), Bucs (7-9) and Panthers (5-11) could lend itself to a hot start out of the gate.
But there is a murderer's row following that stretch: at the Rams, home versus Saints, on the road at Tennessee, home to the Vikings and then the Lambeau game off the bye week.
One other potential advantage for the Bears is they don't face an opponent all season coming off a bye.
Lastly, while we've known this for a while, we're reminded there could be an all-pro quarterback road show at Soldier Field this year with Philip Rivers, Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Stafford, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers all slated to appear.
Now we're left to wonder will they show on time, will they show at all, and if they do will, anyone actually be allowed in to the building to admire their performances?
• Twitter @Hub_Arkush.
Bears 2020 scheduleSept. 13 at Detroit Noon, FOX
Sept. 20 N.Y. GIANTS Noon, CBS
Sept. 27 at Atlanta Noon, FOX
Oct. 4 INDIANAPOLIS Noon, CBS
Oct. 8 at Tampa Bay 7:20 p.m., NFL
Oct. 18 at Carolina Noon, FOX
Oct. 26 at L.A. Rams 7:15 p.m., ESPN
Nov. 1 NEW ORLEANS 3:15 p.m., FOX
Nov. 8 at Tennessee Noon, FOX
Nov. 16 MINNESOTA 7:15 p.m., ESPN
Nov. 23 BYE WEEK
Nov. 29 at Green Bay 7:20 p.m., NBC
Dec. 6 DETROIT Noon, FOX
Dec. 13 HOUSTON Noon, CBS
Dec. 20 at Minnesota Noon, FOX
Dec. 27 at Jacksonville Noon, FOX
Jan. 3 GREEN BAY Noon, FOX
* All games tentative, times and dates subject to change
** All games on WBBM 780-AM