Chicago Sun-Times

Sizing up possible prime-time matchups for Bears

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We've got less than 3 1/2 hours until the NFL releases the 2009 schedule.

The Bears have been a popular team in prime time since Lovie Smith's breakout season in 2005.

The Bears were on ``Monday Night Football'' twice in 2006, once in 2007 and once last season. They have been on ``Sunday Night Football'' three times in 2006, twice in 2007 (they were flexed out of a third SNF appearance at Seattle after a poor start) and appeared on Sunday night three times last season. They appeared on Thursday night once in 2007 and once in 2008.

So, the league has scheduled the Bears for prime time five times in 2006, five times in 2007 (reduced from six by flex scheduling) and five times in 2008.

The bet here is the Bears get four prime time dates added when the schedule is released at 6 p.m. The lure of the league's second-largest television market with a new quarterback in Jay Cutler makes the Bears a best bet to be an evening attraction. We already know they will open the season Sept. 13 at Green Bay on NBC's ``Sunday Night Football.''

The guess here is they get two more Sunday night dates, one Monday nighter and an NFL Network appearance on a Thursday. That's just a guess, of course. You would think the league itself would want to capitalize on Cutler fever.

What are some prime possibilities for night games?

At home we think the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles are all good possibilities.

On the road, Atlanta and Baltimore stand out as prime targets. We could see ESPN building up Mike Singletary vs. his former team in a Monday nighter from San Francisco also.

The suspense will end soon enough. Check back here for Four Down Territory and full coverage of the schedule.

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How cool is it that Cutler's first game in a Bears jersey will be against the Broncos and his first regular season game as a Bear will be against the Packers.

Sounds like a storybook beginning for a storybook career.

This is going to be the longest summer ever. I'm ready for some football!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 14, 2009 2:40 PM.

Draft value chart has WR Nicks slipping to middle of 2nd round was the previous entry in this blog.

Four Down Territory, April 14: Did Cutler by Angelo, Smith more time? is the next entry in this blog.

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