The 2016 Chicago Bears preseason schedule was released on Thursday, and the Bears have some big challenges awaiting them.
For what it’s worth — which isn’t much, considering the relatively little value that preseason games have outside the 32 organizations in the NFL — the Bears will face a stiff challenge to determine which fringe players on their roster deserve a chance to hang around for the regular season.
The Bears will open the 2016 preseason at Soldier Field against the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The game has extra significance given that head coach John Fox was the former coach of the Broncos, and he helped lure a handful of Broncos free agents to the Bears this offseason.
The Bears will follow up that contest with another tough one in Foxborough against the New England Patriots, who came up a game shy of Super Bowl 50 after being bruised and battered by a physical Broncos team in the AFC conference title game.
In the third preseason game, the all-important “dress rehearsal” contest in which the starters will likely play into the third quarter, the Bears will host a Kansas City Chiefs team that reeled off 10 straight victories to close the regular season last year. This impressive streak came after the Chiefs began the season 1-5, with one of those losses coming at the hands of the Bears, when Jay Cutler orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback victory. There’s not much call for revenge in a preseason game, but several Chiefs players surely will remember that collapse.
Finally, as is tradition, the Bears will conclude the meaningless preseason in the meaningless fourth game against the meaningless Cleveland Browns. It’s a Browns team, no less, without the awfully exciting, awful Johnny Manziel running around making playground highlights.
The 2016 NFL regular season schedule is expected to be released sometime this month.