2021 NFL schedule: Three Bears games for fans to circle

Editor's note: NFL.com is breaking down all 32 team schedules for the 2021 season. Here are the three games Chicago Bears fans should circle on their calendars this fall:

Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams, Week 1, Sept. 12, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)

The NFL often signals how it feels about a team's chances at success in a given year by the number of prime-time games it gives a club and the placement of those national-audience bouts. The league spoke loudly about how it feels regarding Chicago, trusting Matt Nagy's squad to open Sunday Night Football as the league celebrates the first game in SoFi Stadium with fans anticipated in the stands. The question is whether we get prime-time Andy Dalton or rookie Justin Fields under center to open the season. Playing on the road, under the lights, on a national stage versus a playoff team could give Nagy pause to start the rookie out of the gate. Fields has played in pressure-packed games in the past -- and excelled -- so the hope is that's not part of the equation for Chicago coaches. Seeing the rookie in Nagy's offense to open the season would give Bears fans a needed jolt for the future. The NFL further indicated that it believes the Bears could be a contender in 2021, scheduling four prime-time tilts, including two Monday-nighters, and another national-audience game on Thanksgiving. With Fields in Chicago, the excitement is on the rise.

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 7, Oct. 24, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

In the 2020 matchup, Tom Brady famously became discombobulated in Chicago and forgot it was fourth down. The G.O.A.T. bounced back, taking his team to the Super Bowl. The Bears floundered the rest of the season. In a pivotal year for Nagy's squad, Chicago once again has a new QB. Perhaps the coach slow-plays the rookie signal-caller to open the season. But it'd be a stunner if Fields wasn't the starter at this point in the schedule. The Bears didn't mortgage their future to draft the quarterback, only to watch him ride the pine most of the season. Against a Super Bowl champion defense in Tampa, Fields would be put to the test. With the Bucs, Steelers and Ravens all in a row, it's a string of stingy defenses that will tell us a lot about the rookie QB's ability and acumen. Facing the Super Bowl champs is always a game to circle. When the greatest player of all-time is included in that game, circle it seven times.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, Week 6, Oct. 17, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Often the butt of jokes from their North rivals due to QB instability in Chicago, Bears fans have reveled in the Aaron Rodgers saga unfolding in Green Bay this offseason. How that situation plays out will indicate how a heretofore lopsided tug of war unravels in the years to come. Will Rodgers continue to torture his NFC North counterparts? Does it become a budding Justin Fields-Jordan Love rivalry? If Rodgers remains in Green Bay, the attrition on defense in Chicago could be put to the test early in the season against a QB who has proven he can dice up the Bears even in the best of times. If Rodgers is gone, Bears fans will undoubtedly rejoice and view it as their chance to recapture the edge in the NFL's oldest rivalry.

Check out the full Bears schedule below (all times ET):

Sept. 12 at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Sept. 19 vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Sept. 26 at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oct. 3 vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oct. 10 at Las Vegas Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

Oct. 17 vs. Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oct. 24 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Oct. 31 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Nov. 8 at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Nov. 14 -- BYE

Nov. 21 vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Nov. 25 at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving), 12:30 p.m. (FOX)

Dec. 5 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Dec. 12 at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)*

Dec. 20 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Dec. 26 at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

Jan. 2 vs. New York Giants, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Jan. 9 at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. (FOX)

*Sunday night games in Weeks 5-17 subject to change; Week 18 game TBD

**NFL Network and Amazon simulcast subject to change

The 2021 schedule has been revealed.Purchase your tickets to see the action live, here.

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