The new schedule is an indicator that the NFL might not be high on the Bears’ outlook this year.
The Bears only are scheduled for two prime time games this year: Monday night at San Diego on Nov. 9 and Thanksgiving night at Green Bay.
It marks the Bears’ fewest prime time games since 2005 when they only made one appearance. In fact, the Bears have played at least four prime time games every season since 2005. They have been featured on five prime time games in each of the last three seasons.
The networks love airing Bears games in prime time. The Bears, with their vast history, are considered one of the national teams in the NFL. Their appeal usually produces solid ratings.
So if the Bears are even close to being considered respectable, 8-8 or 9-7, they will receive more primetime games than teams like Buffalo or Tampa Bay with comparable records.
However, the NFL, which makes the schedule and assigns games to the respective networks, obviously is leery of the Bears coming off a 5-11 season. Ultimately, the league wants good teams playing in its showcase games. Bad teams increase the possibility of lopsided games, which is a ratings killer.
Now there are a couple things to consider here. With the flex schedule in place for NBC during the second half of the season, the Bears could get a game moved to Sunday night if they perform well.
Also, the Bears will be showcased early with Sunday afternoon games. Expect Fox’s No. 1 crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to be on hand for the Bears-Green Bay season-opener at Soldier Field. The Bears’ trip to Seattle on Sept. 27 could be CBS’ main doubleheader game that week. That will be a crossover game for CBS, which typically airs the AFC.