A new coaching staff with a different offensive system makes for uncertainty, so a schedule with seven games against 2012 playoff teams only adds to the difficulty ahead for the Chicago Bears.
Facing quarterbacks Eli Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers challenges the defense, but the Bears will benefit from playing home games in those games against the Giants, Saints, and Packers. However, they'll have to face Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger and Rodgers in road games against the Redskins, Steelers, and Packers.
All told, it looks like a much more difficult slate than 2012 because the cupcake quotient is lower. Gone are the sure wins over Jacksonville and Tennessee, replaced by a handful of teams near .500 like the Steelers and Rams, and playoff teams like Baltimore and Cincinnati. Detroit should also be much more difficult than in 2012.
Of particular interest will be the home-and-home against rival Green Bay, since Lovie Smith was fired in part due to his inability to beat the Packers. How will the new coach fare?
Bears 2013 schedule
Home: Dallas, New York Giants, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota.
Away: Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota.
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLCHI.