The Chicago Bears have a new coach this year, giving them a new outlook on life after last year's 10-6 record was just solid enough to leave them out of the playoffs with a winning record. The team is hoping Marc Trestman can keep up the winning ways while making a postseason appearance this year.
The Bears' strength of schedule based on last year's records is pretty much in the middle of the pack, as their opponents rank 16th in the league with a 128-127-1 record. There are some difficult matchups, though, including a stretch from Week 2 through 11 that will force them to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens, along with divisional opponents Detroit Lions (twice), the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.
Toughest Out: The toughest out could end up being the Green Bay Packers in the last week of the regular season -- as long as both teams are still playing for something, anyway. The Bears are lucky it's at home, but weather might still affect the game ... and the Packers won't feel as out of place since they play outside as well.
Must Win: Probably at Detroit in late September. That game is in the middle of a rather tough stretch for the Bears and could be important to keep them on track for the rest of the season.
Don't Overlook: The Cleveland Browns on the road late in the season. If the Bears are in a position like they were last year -- winning record, but not in the playoffs -- it could be easy to look past the Browns with a pair of tough NFC opponents on the horizon.
For more on the Bears this season, be sure to check out WindyCityGridiron.com.