Chicago Bears Schedule: 8 Games You Don't Wanna Miss

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IISeptember 2, 2011

Chicago Bears Schedule: 8 Games You Don't Wanna Miss

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    The Bears' final preseason game is tonight against the Cleveland Browns, which means that the regular season is right around the corner.

    The Bears open up their season on September 11th at home against the Atlanta Falcons. In fact, the Bears opening three opponents are against playoff teams from a year ago and that is certainly no easy assignment.

    Overall, the Bears schedule sits as the 23rd most difficult in the league, with an opponent winning percentage at .488.

    They also find themselves tangling with the AFC West this season when the two conference intermingle for four weeks.

    As a whole the Bears have a very intriguing schedule, but here are eight games you'll want to try especially hard to tune in for.

Week 1: Atlanta Falcons

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    The Bears open up their 2011 campaign against the defending NFC South champion, the Atlanta Falcons. The game is at home in Soldier Field where the Bears were 5-3 in the regular season a year ago.

    This game presents a certain level of importance because it's always beneficial for a team to start a season on the right foot.

    It should be noted that it's especially important for the Bears because of who they play the following two weeks. If they were to slip up against Atlanta, it's going to be very tough to make it up in Week 2 and Week 3.

Week 2: New Orleans Saints

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    In the second week of the season the Bears take a trip down to the Big Easy to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

    The Saints are the second straight NFC South opponents for the Bears to open up the season.

    Depending on what the result of the Bears' opening week game versus Atlanta is, the importance of their result could be increased tenfold.

    It's crucial for the Bears offense to be clicking by this point of the season in order to not fall behind defending Super Bowl champion, Green Bay.

Week 3: Green Bay Packers

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    I don't think I need to stress the importance of Chicago's Week 3 matchup with division rival and Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.

    Despite being played in only the third week, this game has plenty of playoff significance because it basically determines who is going to take early control of the NFC North.

    I'm going to be paying extra attention to how the new-look offensive line handles the relentless pass rush of Clay Matthews and the rest of the Packer defense.

Week 5: Detroit Lions

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    If this were two years ago, there would be no way I would include a matchup with the Lions on this list. But this is 2011 and a news flash to all: The Lions are good.

    We all remember what happened with how the Bears beat the Lions on the controversial no touchdown by Calvin Johnson a year ago. There might be some extra motivation for the Lions when the Bears travel to Detroit for this matchup.

    This game is one I'm really looking forward to this season, large in part to the fact that it's on ESPN's Monday Night Football.

Week 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    This game has so many great story lines in it, it's incredible.

    Aside from the fact that the Buccaneers are bringing in one of the most emerging offenses in football, and the Bears have one of the most experienced defenses, this game boasts something different.

    This showdown between Tampa Bay and Chicago is being played in Wembley Stadium in London, England as part of the NFL's annual overseas game.

    The Buccaneers just missed out on the playoffs last year and will be hungry to prove they can get there this year. This matchup will have a lot of playoff implications in only Week 7.

Week 9: Philadelphia Eagles

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    This matchup is a rematch of a Week 12 battle that Philadelphia and the Bears got in last year, which saw the Bears victorious 31-26.

    This year, on paper, the Eagles have a much better team adding Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Cullen Jenkins, among other players.

    The game is in Philadelphia and is on ESPN's Monday Night Football, so it'll be exciting to see how the Bears handle the hostile Philly environment in early November.

Week 11: San Diego Chargers

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    On November 20th the Bears play host to the San Diego Chargers in what should be their most difficult out-of-conference game.

    Philip Rivers and company have a very optimistic outlook on their season this year and expect to win the AFC West, so you can expect them to enter this game riding high.

    For the Bears, it's at home and how they play in this Week 11 matchup could very well dictate the mentality they play with the rest of the season.

    One of the most important games of the season for the Bears, in my opinion.

Week 16: Green Bay Packers

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    This game could very well decide the division champion.

    A year ago, the Bears and Packers played in Week 17, and it was only the Packers who looked like they were "playing."

    Luckily, for us fans, the game isn't Week 17 this year so we will see some tough, bone-crushing divisional football.

    The Packers and Bears is always a game that is must-see, but it's even more high profile when both teams will be battling for the division, and it's in primetime on NBC, in the frozen tundra we call Lambeau Field.