The Chicago Bears haven't had a winning season since 2012, but fans of the team may be starting to see the light at the end of what has been a long rebuilding tunnel.
New head coach Matt Nagy, a former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, will be paired with sophomore quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in a duo the organization hopes will turn the offense into a threat.
Trubisky will have new weapons to work with in 2018. The team signed wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton in free agency.
Those players should round out a nice group of skill positions for the Bears, with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen already at running back and the team hoping 2015 first-round pick Kevin White can finally stay healthy and make an impact in the pass game.
There will be questions about a defensive line, however, that only has Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman locked in as established difference-makers. Can Leonard Floyd continue to ascend toward stardom (and stay healthy) in year three? The Bears have talent in the secondary, but will the linebackers next to Floyd stack up?
Still, the defense was the team's strength in 2018 and many of those players return. If the offense takes the step forward many people anticipate after the aggressive offseason, Chicago could be one of the league's most improved teams this season.
Here is a look at the complete schedule for the Bears in the 2018 regular season, per NFL.com.
Bears' 2018 Schedule
Week 1: at Green Bay Packers on Sep. 9 at 8:20 PM ET on NBC
Week 2: vs. Seattle Seahawks on Sep. 17 at 8:15 PM ET on ESPN
Week 3: at Arizona Cardinals on Sep. 23 at 4:25 PM ET on FOX
Week 4: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sep. 30 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: at Miami Dolphins on Oct. 14 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 7: vs. New England Patriots on Oct. 21 at 1 PM ET on CBS
Week 8: vs. New York Jets on Oct. 28 at 1 PM ET on CBS
Week 9: at Buffalo Bills on Nov. 4 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 10: vs. Detroit Lions on Nov. 11 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 11: vs. Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 18 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 12: at Detroit Lions on Nov. 22 at 12:30 PM ET on CBS
Week 13: at New York Giants on Dec. 2 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 14: vs. Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 9 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 15: vs. Green Bay Packers on Dec. 16 at 1 PM ET on FOX
Week 16: at San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 23 at 4:05 PM ET on FOX
Week 17: at Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 30 at 1 PM ET on FOX
The Bears have a pretty brutal 2018 schedule. The NFC North is tough enough, but the Bears also have to face 2017 playoff teams in the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots at home and Buffalo Bills on the road.
For those keeping track at home, that's five total games against playoff teams from last year when you throw in the Minnesota Vikings. But they also have to face a number of teams that should be improved in 2018.
The Green Bay Packers get back Aaron Rodgers. The New York Giants were decimated by injuries last season and had a locker room that nearly ate itself alive, though a clean bill of health and new coaching staff should help in both regards. The San Francisco 49ers will have Jimmy Garoppolo under center for a full season. The Arizona Cardinals upgraded at quarterback in Sam Bradford and get superstar David Johnson back from injury. Ryan Tannehill will be healthy in Miami. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the talent to take a step forward.
Plus, the Bears have a number of games against teams that missed the playoffs last year but were in the running, namely the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions.
This is no pushover schedule. As Jeff Dickerson of ESPN wrote, "According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bears' strength of schedule based on 2017 opponents' record is .520, tied for the eighth-hardest in the league."
The Bears should be a better team in 2018, but their schedule doesn't appear to be doing them any favors.
The Bears went 0-6 against the NFC North in 2017. If they are to have any chance at securing a wild-card berth next season—which is probably a long shot in the loaded NFC, but stranger things have happened—they need to improve that record significantly.
NFC North contests are always battles, and there's an argument to be made that the Vikings are one of the favorites in the NFC, period. The return of Rodgers means the Packers will be a playoff contender, and Detroit has posted consecutive winning seasons under Matt Stafford and Co.
The Vikings may actually be better in 2018, with Kirk Cousins upgrading the quarterback position and Sheldon Richardson adding to an already strong front four. Plus, Minnesota will get back rookie standout Dalvin Cook to bolster the run game.
The Packers made some big changes this offseason, saying goodbye to Jordy Nelson but hello to Jimmy Graham, who should thrive in Green Bay's offense. They bolstered their defensive front as well, signing Muhammad Wilkerson. And obviously, the return of Rodgers alone makes them a postseason threat.
The Lions perhaps had a quieter offseason than their NFC North rivals, but they addressed a major need, adding a true power back in LeGarrette Blount to give the run game more punch.
In other words, none of these games will be easy. But if the Bears don't go at least 3-3 against the NFC North, missing the playoffs for an eighth straight season will probably be a foregone conclusion.