Marc Trestman will make his regular season debut as coach of the Chicago Bears at home.
The team will begin the season at Soldier Field for the fourth consecutive year and they will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 8. Trestman becomes the fourth consecutive Bears coach to open with a home game. The Bears won four of their previous five season openers under ex-coach Lovie Smith.
The NFL released the regular season schedule Thursday night and the team has been assigned four games in prime time beginning with a Week 3 trip to Pittsburgh on Sept. 22 that will be broadcast on NBC. Two weeks later, the team will host the Giants on Thursday, Oct. 10, on NFL Network. The first meeting with the Packers is at Green Bay on Nov. 4, an appearance on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Bears play on “MNF” again Dec. 9 when they host the Dallas Cowboys, who they defeated on a Monday night last season.
The Bears play at Detroit on Sept. 29 and then come home to host the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 6, four days before the Thursday night meeting with the Giants. Then, they have 10 days to prepare for Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in an Oct. 20 game at Washington. The Bears are off the next week in Week 8, so the break comes in the middle of the season.
Coming out of the off week, the Bears are at the Packers on Nov. 4. They then host the Lions Nov. 10 and Super Bowl champion Ravens on Nov. 17. The Bears are at St. Louis Nov. 24 and at Minnesota Dec. 1 before the Monday night meeting with Dallas. They close out the season at Cleveland Dec. 15, at Philadelphia Dec. 22 and with a Week 17 meeting against the Packers at Soldier Field on Dec. 29.
The NFL could flex a game into prime time on Sunday beginning in Week 11 when the Bears host the Ravens.
“It’s always fun,” Trestman said of the schedule release. “It’s not who you play, it’s when you play them. Whoever we play, it’s who we’ll be playing that day and we’ll be excited about it, I can guarantee you that.”
Here are some schedule nuggets:
— It has now been nine years since the team’s last appearance on Thanksgiving. In Lovie Smith’s first season in 2004, the Texas native took his team to Dallas to face the Cowboys in what was a dreadful game. Craig Krenzel started at quarterback for the Bears vs. Drew Henson for the Cowboys. Neither quarterback finished the game. The Bears last faced the Lions on Thanksgiving in 1999 at the Pontiac Silverdome, three years before Ford Field opened.
— This will be the third time the Bears have faced the Cowboys in four years, giving them an opportunity to tangle with former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
— The Bears will play the Eagles for the sixth time in seven years. The Bears have won four of the previous five meetings.
— This marks the third game vs. the Steelers in 15 years. Former Bears wide receivers coach Todd Haley is the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, where his father Dick has a longtime scout credited with helping draft many of the franchise’s Hall of Fame players during the 1970’s.
— It’s rare the Bengals come to Soldier Field. Their visit will be only the second since 1992.
— The game vs. the Packers on Dec. 29 will mark the seventh time Green Bay has played at Soldier Field in the second half of December or later (Jan. 2, 2004) in the regular season since 2004.
— The Bears are 25-35 all-time on “Monday Night Football” and 13-19 on Sunday nights. The team is 4-4 on Thursdays with a 1-0 record at Soldier Field.
— The Bears are 17-3 in their last 20 season openers at home. That dates back to 1984.
By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter
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