The Chicago Bears enter the 2022 season with high hopes for second-year quarterback Justin Fields, who should get the opportunity to start his first full season in the NFL.
Last season, Chicago cycled through Andy Dalton, Nick Foles and Fields under center, which didn't bode well for the franchise as it finished 6-11 and missed the playoffs for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons.
But while the 23-year-old is expected to make an impact in 2022, the Bears haven't provided him with many offensive weapons thus far after losing star wide receiver Allen Robinson II to the Los Angeles Rams.
Byron Pringle, Dazz Newsome, Darnell Mooney and Equanimeous St. Brown figure to be Fields' top targets, and he can also rely on tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery.
However, the NFC North should be pretty competitive in 2022, with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings expected to lead the way. In addition, the Detroit Lions could challenge for second place in the division.
The NFL unveiled the 2022 regular-season schedule on Thursday, and Chicago's first challenge will come in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers. Here's a full look at the schedule and some analysis on key opponents.
2022 Chicago Bears Schedule
Full television schedule can be found on the team's official website.
The Bears haven't finished at the top of the NFC North since the 2018 season, and they aren't expected to do so in 2022, especially in what is expected to be a pretty difficult division with Aaron Rodgers returning to the Packers.
Chicago has had particularly bad lack against Green Bay since the 38-year-old took over as the team's starting quarterback in 2008. The Bears have won just five games against the Packers since 2008, with their last coming in 2018.
As long as Rodgers is around, the Bears probably aren't going to have much luck against the Packers, and that'll be the case in 2022.
As for the Vikings, the Bears have had a little more success against Minnesota, but they haven't won a game against the franchise since 2020, having lost both games to Kirk Cousins and Co. during the 2021 campaign.
With Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook set to return to Minnesota in 2022, the Bears might not have much luck against the Vikings this year.
The Detroit Lions present a different opportunity for the Bears. Chicago won both games against Detroit last season, though the Lions drafted Michigan star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, which won't make things easy on the Bears.
As for non-divisional opponents, one of Chicago's most exciting matchups comes against the New England Patriots on the road. It will be a battle of the 2021 first-round quarterbacks in Fields, who was selected 11th overall, and Mac Jones, who was the No. 15 selection.
The Bears haven't defeated the Patriots since 2000, so this presents Fields with an incredible opportunity to put his name in the record books. But it won't be easy.
Jones had an incredible rookie season, arguably one of the best we've seen from a first-year quarterback in a while. In addition, he has some solid offensive weapons in Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers, who aren't easy to defend.
Another second-year quarterback matchup will come when Fields and the Bears face Zach Wilson, the 2021 second overall pick, and the New York Jets. This should be an easier matchup for Chicago, as New York hasn't had a good season since 2010.
However, it should at least be an interesting second-year quarterback battle, and it'll be a nice showcase for some of New York's top rookies, such as Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and Garrett Wilson.
Another difficult opponent for the Bears will be the San Francisco 49ers, which reached the NFC title game in 2021. It will also mark another second-year QB battle between Fields and third overall pick Trey Lance.
Lance is one of the most promising quarterbacks out of the 2021 class, and considering he has significant offensive weapons in Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, this will be one of the most difficult matchups of the season for the Bears.