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updated: 4/20/2017 9:30 PM

Bears release 2017 schedule, start with Falcons

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The Bears open their 2017 schedule at home against the 2016 NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, the first of four straight games against teams that had winning records last year.

The Bears play each of their first six games and eight of the first 10 against teams that were .500 or better last season.

Coach John Fox's team, which is coming off a 3-13 season, will play six of those first 10 games at home but finish with four of its last six games on the road.

After hosting the Falcons (11-5 in 2016), the Bears travel to Tampa to face quarterback Mike Glennon's former team, the Buccaneers (9-7). Then it's back home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the AFC North last season with an 11-5 record.

Each of the first three games are on Sunday. In Week Four, the Bears travel to Green Bay for a Thursday night game against Packers, last year's NFC North champions at 10-6. It's the sixth consecutive season the Bears have played at Green Bay in prime time and the eighth time in nine years. The Bears are 2-6 in those games.

The following week, the Bears play their only other scheduled game in prime time, when they entertain the Minnesota Vikings (8-8) on Monday night.

The Bears' off week comes in Week Nine. That's followed by back-to-back NFC North home games against the Packers and Lions, who made the 2016 playoffs as a wild-card team at 9-7.

On paper, the last six weeks are clearly the easiest part of the schedule, with just one game against a team that had a winning record in 2016. The Bears visit Philadelphia in Week 12 to play the Eagles (7-9 last year), who signed former Bears Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in March during free agency.

The homestretch includes a Soldier Field game against the San Francisco 49ers (2-14), followed by road games against the Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1) and the Lions on Saturday, Dec. 16. A home game against the Cleveland Browns (1-15) is followed by the season finale in Minnesota, where the Bears concluded the 2016 season with a 38-10 defeat.

Saturday's game against the Lions is at 3:30, and all 13 Sunday games are scheduled for noon, although some could be flexed to a later start.

Chicago Bears 2017 schedule

Week 1 FALCONS, noon, Sunday, Sept. 10

Week 2 @Buccaneers, noon, Sunday, Sept. 17

Week 3 STEELERS, noon, Sunday, Sept. 24

Week 4 @Packers, 7:25, Thursday, Sept. 28

Week 5 VIKINGS, 7:30, Monday, Oct. 9

Week 6 @Ravens, noon, Sunday, Oct. 15

Week 7 PANTHERS, noon, Sunday, Oct. 22

Week 8 @Saints, noon, Sunday, Oct. 29

Week 9 Open

Week 10 PACKERS, noon, Sunday, Nov. 12

Week 11 LIONS, noon, Sunday, Nov. 19

Week 12 @Eagles, noon, Sunday, Nov. 26

Week 13 49ERS, noon, Sunday, Dec. 3

Week 14 @Bengals, noon, Sunday, Dec. 10

Week 15 @Lions, 3:30, Saturday, Dec. 16

Week 16 BROWNS, noon, Sunday, Dec. 24

Week 17 @Vikings, noon, Sunday, Dec. 31

*all caps means home game.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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