Drew Brees

Bears open season against defending NFC champion Falcons, check out full 2017 schedule

Bears open season against defending NFC champion Falcons, check out full 2017 schedule

Week 1: vs. Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, Sept. 10, 12 p.m.)

A very good team got stronger in its defensive core with addition of defensive tackle Dontari Poe to help one of NFL's worst run defenses. Super Bowl losers can struggle the next year and Falcons need to get past devastating loss to the New England Patriots.

Moon's call: L

Week 2: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, Sept. 17, 12 p.m.)

The Bucs are difficult case study in what the Bears haven't been able to do over the past several seasons: get the franchise arrow pointing conclusively up. Tampa Bay was 2-14 in 2014 while the Bears were collapsing under Marc Trestman, got the quarterback thing right by selecting Jameis Winston No. 1 overall and have gone 6-10 and 9-7 the past two seasons, missing the 2016 playoffs only by a tiebreaker. The Week 10 game vs. the Bears last season was a Jay Cutler low point.

Moon's call: L

Week 3: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, Sept. 24, 12 p.m.)

One of two 11-win opponents (Falcons) for the 2017 Bears. The Steelers haven't been sub-500 since 2003 — when Ben Roethlisberger arrived — and reached the playoffs the past three seasons. May be toughest opponent on Bears schedule.

Moon's call: L

Week 4: at Packers (Thursday, Sept. 28, 7:25 p.m.)

Bears have produced surprises — good and bad — in Lambeau, including going up 10-6 early in the second half of their game in Green Bay last year with a defensive touchdown before losing Brian Hoyer and Kyle Long to arm injuries and collapsing defensively.

Moon's call: L

Week 5: vs. Minnesota Vikings (Monday, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m.)

Jay Cutler's last Bears win was over the Vikings, who've shaken up their roster, signing new offensive tackles' Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and running back Latavius Murray to improve the offense, and underachieving defensive end Datone Jones from Green Bay for the defensive line.

Moon's call: W

Week 6: at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, Oct. 15, 12 p.m.)

A top-10 defense and a stable quarterback situation (Joe Flacco) make Ravens a consistent threat, and beating the Bears to sign safety Tony Jefferson upgrades their secondary. Credit Ravens for creative thinking, going by cruise ship to game in London rather than by airplane.

Moon's call: L

Week 7: vs. Carolina Panthers (Sunday, Oct. 22, 12 p.m.)

Another sufferer of the Super Bowl curse now looking to regain dominance, bringing back Julius Peppers and Mike Adams to defense. Head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman can't afford another underachieving year with Cam Newton in place.

Moon's call: W

Week 8: at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Oct. 29, 12 p.m.)

The Saints traded Brandin Cooks to the Patriots but Drew Brees, Bears GM Ryan Pace's template for a franchise quarterback, predicts Saints' rise despite being sub-.500 in four of the last five seasons. Coby Fleener is matchup problem for Bears, who haven't handled good pass-catching tight ends well.

Moon's call: W

Week 9: Bye

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Week 10: vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, Nov. 12, 12 p.m.)

The Packers underwent massive offseason changes, and new tight end Martellus Bennett adds a threat but the Bears simply need to end second-half collapses regardless of specific Packers on the field. As long as Aaron Rodgers dresses, the Bears remain underdogs.

Moon's call: L

Week 11: vs. Detroit Lions (Sunday, Nov. 19, 12 p.m.)

Matthew Stafford directed eight comeback wins in 2016 but the Lions lost their final three games and were blown out at Seattle in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Bears have lost seven of last eight to Lions. Turnover on the offensive line makes the Lions offense an unknown until the parts mesh.

Moon's call: W

Week 12: at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, Nov. 26, 12 p.m.)

Eagles made their big quarterback move in least year's NFL Draft (Carson Wentz) and handled Bears easily in Soldier Field. Now Bears have to deal with motivated Alshon Jeffery, presuming injury issues don't return for the talented wide receiver.

Moon's call: W

Week 13: vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, Dec. 3, 12 p.m.)

"The Brian Hoyer Bowl" is probably a touch strong for this meeting of 2016 bottom-feeders, both making wholesale changes and owning top-3 picks going into the draft. The 49ers were the Bears' only victim over final eight games last season. Kyle Shanahan becomes fourth head coach in past four years in down-spiral since Jim Harbaugh.

Moon's call: W

Week 14: at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, Dec. 10, 12 p.m.) 

Bengals flop in playoffs but they get there under Marvin Lewis (6 of last 8 years). And 11 picks in the 2017 draft should add talent to a good core of defensive tackle Geno Atkins, quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green.

Moon's call: L

Week 15: at Lions (Saturday, Dec. 16, 3:30 p.m.)

Bears have lost four straight in Ford Field, the last two by field goals, including Week 14 last season when Josh Bellamy dropped a pass for a fourth-down conversion, all this after the Bears rallied from 10 down to lead 17-13 but could not stop a 76-yard go-ahead Lions drive.

Moon’s call: L

Week 16: vs. Cleveland Browns (Sunday, Dec. 24, 12 p.m.)

The Browns have lost 13 straight away from their lakefront as quarterback issues fester — cutting ties with Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, The Browns have had 26 different starting quarterbacks since 1999. And now they have Brock Osweiler after his failed trip to Houston, plus an expected addition via the draft.

Moon's call: W

Week 17: at Vikings (Sunday, Dec. 31, 12 p.m.)

Bears haven't won in Minnesota since 2011 and their last two losses there were by 21 and 28 points, as Vikings have been on the rise and Bears on the decline both during recent seasons and as competitive franchises. Bears desperately need prove-it road win to start regaining relevance in NFC North.

Moon's call: W

Moon’s season prediction: 8-8

Jay Cutler experience should push Bears far away from just measurables when choosing next QB

Jay Cutler experience should push Bears far away from just measurables when choosing next QB

Teams routinely evaluate draft candidates starting with measurable traits. Then, once the 40-times, height/weight results and such are tabulated, intangibles like leadership and “football character” enter in as tipping points.

For what the Bears need and want to do this offseason at their  most important position, the Bears need to reverse the process. Do it backwards.

The Bears’ first turn on the draft clock does not come around for upwards of two months, maybe effectively before that if trading draft choices for a Jimmy Garoppolo happens in the meantime. But with the start of the league year and its trading window approach, the talk around Jay Cutler is popping up more and more, whether he’ll command anything in a trade or whether to just cut ties and move on.

But the Cutler experience should be and quite possibly is figuring into what the Bears will do if a quarterback is what they target and select, presumably in the first round. And based on Cutler as a case study, subtle and not-so-subtle indications are that GM Ryan Pace is looking beyond the usual “measurables” in evaluating quarterback prospects, as he absolutely should be.

In this one position, it becomes imperative that the Bears go off-script, outside the box, and look first, hardest and longest at something that won’t show up on any stopwatch or tape measure.

“You want to look for a player who has lifted his program for the most part,” Pace said during his time at this year’s Senior Bowl last month. “That's something that's there. Quarterbacks we've been around, I think Drew Brees, for example, when he was at Purdue, he lifted that program. That's one of the things we look for. That's definitely a factor added into about 30 other things you factor into that position.”

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Why this resonance so loudly over the Bears is because for the last eight years they had a designer quarterback who unquestionably checked every measurable box: size (6-3, 225 pounds, mobility, footspeed, arm strength), yet failed to lift his team the way Pace was accustomed to from his time in New Orleans around Brees.

North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky is Cutler: 6-3, 209 pounds, big arm. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer is Cutler: 6-4, 230 pounds, big arm, mobility.

Tellingly perhaps, Pace also cited another intangible in a way that suggests it will influence his and the Bears’ draft board: “It's your football intelligence, it's your accuracy, it's your ability to quickly process.”

But Trubisky was a starter just one year (2016). Kizer “led” the Irish to a 4-8 season and a 14-11 overall mark in his starts over two years.

Deshaun Watson, in the National Championship game the past two years, is similar in physical stature (6-3, 209) to Kizer and Trubisky, Garoppolo, too, for that matter. But “lifted his program” should be a monumental tipping point here.

And experience. Garoppolo had one spectacular year, his senior season, at Eastern Illinois. His first three years were nothing special, marked by heavy interception totals and barely 60 percent completions. Pace’s weighted criteria have experience high up.

“Yeah, [experience] carries a lot of weight,” Pace said. “I think there’s nothing that can really substitute [for] that. It’s already a big jump from college to the NFL as it is, so the more of that you have, the more beneficial it is.”

Measurables were why Russell Wilson (size) didn’t go until the third round, and why Tom Brady (foot speed) lasted until the sixth. For the Bears, the hard-to-gauge intangibles should be their first evaluation points, far ahead of the physical skills and talents that they have had here since 2009.

Fantasy Football: 2016 quarterback sleepers and busts

Fantasy Football: 2016 quarterback sleepers and busts

If you're drafting a quarterback early, you're doing it all wrong.

Stick to building a more well-rounded team and wait to get your signal-caller until at least Round 5.

The talent pool at the position is insanely deep and unless you end up with one of the top five players we have pictured below, the rest are like comparing apples to apples.

If you use our draft strategy and need some advice on quarterbacks outside the top five, the CSN Fantasy crew offers up some input on who to target, which sleepers to keep an eye on and who to stay away from for the 2016 season.

For specific draft questions, drop us a line on Twitter @CSNFantasy or use #CSNFantasy and we'll give you our take.

Top Targets

Drew Brees, NO: Ahhh, old reliable (and no, that wasn't a crack on his age). Brees has been a top fantasy quarterback for most of our fantasy lives and there is no reason to think that will change in 2016. Yes, he's 37 but that number isn't what it used to be as guys like Brees, Tom Brady and pre-2015 Peyton Manning proved. Last season, Brees had seven games where he tallied at least 300 passing yards and multiple TDs, including his 505-yard, 7-TD game in Week 8. Let everybody else reach for Cam Newton and A-aron Rodgers and snag Brees in the fifth or sixth round to complement the stellar WRs and RBs you can get with your first few picks. — Tony Andracki

Andrew Luck, IND: Take Luck's 2015 season and throw it in the garbage. Luck struggled to stay upright behind a porous offensive line and missed seven games (the only time he's missed during his four-year career). Fully healthy and only 26-years-old, Luck appears poised to deliver a Top 5 fantasy scoring season in a pass-heavy Colts offense with arguably one of the league's best receiving tandems in T.Y. Hilton and the emerging Donte Moncrief. If Luck starts slipping in your draft (very likely because of his injuries last year), don't let him pass you by. — Scott Krinch 

[RELATED: 2016 Fantasy Football running back sleepers and busts]

Sleepers

Derek Carr, OAK: Entering his third NFL season, I'm pegging Carr for a breakout. He has all the tools to become a Top 5 fantasy QB — physical tools, great weapons around him, a good offensive system and a team that will need to rely on him to throw early and often. Carr was fantastic in stretches last season, but lacked consistency in his sophomore campaign. Watch him take a step forward this year as Amari Cooper develops into a star and Clive Walford puts his name on the map. — TA

Jameis Winston, TB: If your strategy is to wait until one of your final picks to grab quarterback, Winston is your guy. Winston was last year's No. 13 fantasy quarterback and somehow comes into the 2016 season as the No. 18-ranked signal-caller. Yes, he's going to throw his fair share of picks, but he's also capable of delivering 30-plus combined touchdowns (he had 28 during his rookie year). Winston is surrounded by a plethora of weapons in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Charles Sims. Take a flyer on Winston and you'll be thanking us later. — SK

​[RELATED: 2016 Fantasy Football wide receiver sleepers and busts]

Busts

Carson Palmer, ARI: This isn't a knock on Palmer so much as it is about value. I like Palmer, but at the end of the day, he's 36, he faded badly down the stretch (including in the playoffs) and he's had issues staying healthy in his career. There are so many solid fantasy QBs out there, you don't need to reach for one. But if you get Palmer at the right price, pull the trigger. He fell to me at No. 100 overall (the 11th QB off the board) in our CSN draft, so I had to take that. But that also means I need to make sure to grab a solid backup QB as insurance. — TA

Tyrod Taylor, BUF: Look, I'm not going to bash Taylor because I think he's actually a great fit for the Bills offense. My gripe with him is that he's getting drafted ahead of the likes of Blake Bortles, Philip Rivers, Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins. All four quarterbacks put up more fantasy points than Taylor last year and each guy is surrounded by better weapons on offense (Taylor has Sammy Watkins and a random cast of characters). Owners are going to reach for Taylor because of his 2015 numbers. Don't be that guy. — SK