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Ladies and gentlemen, the 2021 NFL schedule is officially here. With the draft in the books and most rosters all but locked and loaded for the fall, we can finally turn our eyes toward the season. The NFC North, in particular, promises plenty of intrigue this year, with the Vikings entering a make-or-break year for Kirk Cousins, the Lions kicking off a rebuild and the Packers still tussling with Aaron Rodgers. The Bears, meanwhile, might be the most exciting of them all thanks to their addition of Justin Fields at quarterback. Here's a full rundown of their 17-game schedule, including key matchups and a season prediction:

2021 Bears schedule

WeekOpponentDateTime (ET)Network

1

at Rams

Sept. 12

8:20 p.m.

NBC

2

Bengals

Sept. 19

1 p.m.

Fox

3

at Browns

Sept. 26

1 p.m.

Fox

4

Lions

Oct. 3

1 p.m.

Fox

5

at Raiders

Oct. 10

4:05 p.m.

CBS

6

Packers

Oct. 17

1 p.m.

Fox

7

at Buccaneers

Oct. 24

4:25 p.m.

CBS

8

49ers

Oct. 31

1 p.m.

Fox

9

at Steelers (MNF)

Nov. 8

8:15 p.m.

ESPN

10

Bye

11

Ravens

Nov. 21

1 p.m.

CBS

12

at Lions (Thanksgiving)

Nov. 25

12:30 p.m.

Fox

13

Cardinals

Dec. 5

1 p.m.

Fox

14

at Packers

Dec. 12

8:20 p.m.

NBC

15

Vikings (MNF)

Dec. 20

8:15 p.m.

ESPN

16

at Seahawks

Dec. 26

4:05 p.m.

Fox

17

Giants

Jan. 2

1 p.m. 

CBS

18at VikingsJan. 91 p.m.Fox

Bears key games

  • Week 17 vs. Giants: New York is in somewhat of a similar position, looking to be a surprise contender with a good defense and young QB. In other words, this might be a good litmus test for how close Chicago is to competing, even with a rookie under center.
  • Week 16 at Seahawks: This could easily be a candidate for toughest game of the year, not because Seattle has it all together but because going out West to face Russell Wilson is always a challenge.
  • Week 14 at Packers: If Fields is in the lineup, what better way to welcome him to the NFL than with a trip to Lambeau? If, somehow, some way, he can stick with Green Bay, he'll have Windy City even more pumped than it is now.

Bears toughest matchup

Week: 7 | Date: Oct. 24 | Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Unlike most reigning Super Bowl champions, the Bucs managed to retain just about everyone critical to their title run. With an additional year in the system, Tom Brady could be due for even more success at age 44!. Regardless, Tampa Bay figures to be a tough out at home, where Todd Bowles' defense matches up very favorably against Chicago's rebuilt O-line.

Bears projected win total

2021 record prediction: 6-11

There are plenty of question marks in Chicago, and as always it starts at the quarterback position. How many games will Fields play? Will he be good enough to shine as a rookie? Either way, there aren't a lot of easy games on the Bears' schedule, so the guess here is that it will be a rough year regardless of who starts.