Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
How many times have the Bears defeated the eventual Super Bowl champion during the regular season as they did this year versus the Buccaneers?
With a 20-19 win over the Buccaneers Oct. 8 at Soldier Field, this year marks the fourth time the Bears have beaten the eventual Super Bowl champion during the season. The three previous occasions came with victories over the 2010 Packers 20-17, the 1988 49ers 10-9 and the 1971 Cowboys 23-19.
The 2021 schedule has the Bears playing at the Rams for the third straight season. How is home/away determined for non-division opponents?
Each division plays all four teams in the other three divisions in its conference on a rotational basis. So the Bears faced the NFC West in 2018, the NFC East in 2019 and the NFC South in 2020—and will again face the NFC West in 2021. In 2018, the Bears hosted the Rams and the Seahawks and visited the Cardinals and 49ers. Because those contests alternate, this year it'll be flipped and they'll host the Cardinals and 49ers and visit the Rams and Seahawks. The reason the Bears also played in Los Angeles in 2019 and 2020 is because all teams play two games each season against the clubs in the other two divisions in their conference that finished in the same place in the standings. So after capturing the NFC North title in 2018, it was predetermined that the Bears would face the NFC West champions on the road (Rams) and the NFC South winners at home (Saints) in 2019. After finishing third in 2019, the Bears played the third-place finishers in the NFC West on the road (Rams) and NFC East at home (Giants). As a result of finishing second in 2020, the Bears will play the second-place finishers in the NFC South on the road (Buccaneers) and the NFC East at home (Giants).
In recent years, how have teams fared after going 8-8 in back-to-back seasons? Do they generally rebound or get worse? (Asking for a friend.)
Well, Paul, tell your "friend" that there really isn't much of a pattern. Since 2010, five NFL teams have posted 8-8 records in consecutive seasons. Of those, the 2014 Steelers won the AFC North with an 11-5 mark; the 2013 Cowboys went 8-8 for a third straight year; and the other three declined: the 2012 Raiders (4-12), 2015 Dolphins (6-10) and 2017 Colts (4-12).
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.