The Bears' 2019 schedule is officially out, though we've known for a while now which teams the Bears would play this season.
Now that we know the order of things, it's time for some #Sweet, #Sweet #Schedule #Content. Up first? We're going to take a look at the 5 juciest on-field matchups of the Bears' 2019 campaign.
It's the NFL, so things are destined to change; Khalil Mack was traded on Labor Day Weekend, after all. It's possible -- even probable, knowing our luck -- that some of these make no sense when the season kicks off from Soldier Field on September 5th.
1. Eddie Jackson vs. Aaron Rodgers (Week 1/Week 15)
Rodgers fractured a bone in his leg during the first half of their Week 1 matchup and still threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson had the game-sealing, division-clinching interception when they played in Week 15, and then promptly ended his season (and the Bears, tbf) by spraining his ankle on the play. Rodgers doesn't need to defend his abilities to anyone, and coming off an All-Pro season, Jackson's quickly become widely-regarded as one of the top safeties in football. Jackson won't be blitzing Rodgers as much as running mate HaHa Clinton-Dix will, but watching him play centerfield against Rodgers in passing situations is worth the price of admission.
2. Pat Mahomes vs. Khalil Mack (Week 16)
This might be the best individual, on-field matchup of any game, on anyone's schedule? Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP, vs Mack, the reigning guy-who-can-beat-the-NFL's-best-linemen-with-one-arm. Picture it now: Leonard Floyd gets around the edge, forcing Mahomes out of the pocket. Mahomes scrambles wildly as we all lean forward on our couches, anticipating the next cool sidearm throw. He tucks the ball, and 6 yards plus Khalil Mack are in between him and a first down. Football!!!!!!!
3. Roquan Smith vs. Saquon Barkley (Week 12)
This will be the 2nd time in two years that the 2018 NFL Draft classmates will face off, with the first coming in that wonky Week 13 game last season. In that 30-27 OT loss, Smith lead the Bears in total tackles (8) while splitting his snaps pretty evenly between run defense (29) and pass coverage (34). Barkley took round 1, however, racking up 125 yards on 24 rushes. Plus it's the battle of 'Qu(a/o)n's!
4. Ezekiel Elliott vs Akiem Hicks (Week 14)
Almost 1/3rd of Elliott's rushes in 2018 went through the A-gaps (5.4 YPA on the right, 3.8 YPA on the left), so Hicks should have his hands full come Week 14. Luckily for the Bears, Hicks is a monster against the run. He was Pro Football Focus' 3rd best DL vs the run game, posting a 92.9 rating. He also had the most stops in the NFL last year (34) while being the only player in the Top-10 for Stop % that played in all 16 games.
5. Mitch Trubisky vs. Derwin James (Week 8)
It's the infamous Year 2 for Mitch Trubisky, who will be expected to make a sizeable jump now that he's familiar with Matt Nagy's system. He was *bad* on long throws down the middle of the field last year, posting a 34.0 pass rating on throws of 20+ yards between the numbers last year. The good news is that he was much, much better to the left (97.5 passer rating) and right (98.1). He'll be going up against James, who in only one year has established himself as one of the league's premier safeties. James, who finished (a very disputable) 2nd in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race, ended the year with 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 2 defensive TDs (among other stellar numbers), good for a 87.8 grade from PFF.