How are opponents determined?
The scheduling formula implemented in 2002 with realignment guarantees that all teams play each other on a regular, rotating basis.
Under the formula, the Bears' 16 opponents will be as follows:
- Home and away against three NFC North opponents (6 games).
- The four teams from another division within the NFC on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).
- The four teams from a division in the AFC on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).
- Two intraconference games based on the prior year’s standings (2 games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.
Beginning in 2010, a change was made to how teams are paired in the schedule rotation to ensure that teams playing the AFC and NFC West divisions would not be required to make two west coast trips (e.g. at San Francisco and at Seattle), while other teams in their division had none (e.g. at St. Louis and at Arizona).