The Bears will play five prime-time games in 2012, beginning with a Week 2 Thursday night clash in Green Bay just four days after they open the regular season by hosting the Colts.
The Sept. 9 contest against Indianapolis (noon) likely will feature the NFL debut of quarterback Andrew Luck, who is expected to be selected by the Colts with the first pick in the April 26-28 draft. (See complete Bears schedule.)
Lance Briggs and the Bears will battle the Packers on Thursday Night Football Sept. 13 in Green Bay.
“We started our offseason program yesterday and received our schedule today, so our 2012 season is officially underway,” said coach Lovie Smith. “I love starting the season at home in front of our fans. I don’t think there is a better place to kick off the season than playing at Soldier Field on the lakefront.
“Playing five of our first 10 games in prime time also stands out. Each week brings its own challenge and we are excited to begin our pursuit of a world championship.”
After their opener against the Colts, the Bears will play five of their next nine contests in prime-time, starting Sept. 13 when they try to snap a four-game losing streak against the rival Packers (7:20 p.m.). The NFC North battle at Lambeau Field is part of a full slate of 13 Thursday night games on NFL Network this season.
The Bears will then host the Rams Sept. 23 (noon) before playing back-to-back road games in Dallas (7:30 p.m.) on Monday Night Football Oct. 1 and Jacksonville Oct. 7 (3:05 p.m.).
After a Week 6 bye, the Bears will play five of their next seven games at Soldier Field. They’ll host the Lions on Monday Night Football Oct. 22 (7:30 p.m.) and the Panthers Oct. 28 (noon) before playing in Tennessee Nov. 4 (noon).
Chicago will then play consecutive night games for the only time all season, hosting the Texans on Sunday Night Football Nov. 11 (7:20 p.m.) and visiting San Francisco on Monday Night Football Nov. 19 (7:30 p.m.).
The Bears will then host the Vikings Nov. 25 (noon) and the Seahawks Dec. 2 (noon) before playing three of their final four regular-season games on the road.
They’ll visit Minnesota Dec. 9 (noon) and host the Packers Dec. 16 (noon) before traveling to Arizona Dec. 23 (3:15 p.m.) and Detroit Dec. 30 (noon).
Here are a few more interesting tidbits about the schedule, which was released by the NFL Tuesday:
-- The Bears own 52 opening-day victories overall (52-35-5, .592), tied with Green Bay (52-36-3, .588) for the most by any NFL franchise. Chicago has won three of its last four opening day contests.
-- The last time the Bears opened the season against the Colts was in 2008 when Chicago beat Indianapolis 29-13 in the inaugural game at Lucas Oil Stadium. This will mark the second time in team history the Bears open the season at home against the Colts, with the first coming in 1975, a 35-7 loss to the Baltimore Colts at Soldier Field. The Bears also opened the regular season against the Colts franchise in Baltimore on three occasions (1953, 1955 and 1956).
-- This marks the first time since the 1940 championship season where the Bears will play their first two regular season contests within five days of each other. In 1940, the Bears played their first two regular season contests within four days: a 41-0 victory at Green Bay on September 22 and a 21-7 loss to the Chicago Cardinals on September 25 at Comiskey Park.
-- The Bears are scheduled to make five appearances on prime-time television during the regular season with all five coming within the first 10 contests. Chicago went 2-2 in prime time during the 2011 regular season on NBC’s Sunday Night Football (1-1) and ESPN’s Monday Night Football (1-1).
-- The Bears’ first prime-time contest is Week 2 at Green Bay on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football. Chicago plays three games on ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Week 4 at Dallas, Week 7 vs. Detroit and Week 11 at San Francisco. Chicago will also host one contest on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in Week 10 vs. Houston.
-- This is the first time since the 2002 season that the Bears will play three contests on Monday Night Football. Under Smith, Chicago is 7-2 on Monday Night Football, 8-8 on Sunday Night Football and 2-2 on Thursday Night Football.
-- The Bears will travel 14,258 miles during the 2012 season. Chicago’s longest trip during the season is to San Francisco (3,692 miles round-trip).