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Bears to open season against Bengals

CHICAGO – Every NFL fan in America should know Marc Trestman by the end of the season.

The Bears learned they would play 25 percent of their regular-season games in prime time, including once each month, as part of the NFL schedule that was released Thursday. That number could increase for the Bears if other late-season games are flexed into prime time.

Locked into place are four contests in the national spotlight. They include a pair of ESPN “Monday Night Football” appearances on Nov. 4 at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers and Dec. 9 at Soldier Field against the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears also will visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 22 for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” and they will host the New York Giants on Oct. 10 as part of the NFL Network’s slate of Thursday night games.

Before his prime-time debut as the 14th head coach in franchise history, Trestman will have a pair of noon games on the lakefront. The Bears will open the regular season Sept. 8 against Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals, and they will remain home in Week 2 for a Sept. 15 game against the division rival Minnesota Vikings.

Not since 1999 have the Bears opened the regular season with back-to-back home games. They have won the past three consecutive season openers at Soldier Field against Detroit, Atlanta and Indianapolis, and they are 17-3 in season openers at home since 1984.

With 53 opening-day wins in team history, the Bears lead all NFL franchises. They have won nearly 60 percent of their Week 1 games with a 53-35-5 overall record.

However, as last season showed, the end of the season could loom larger than the beginning. The Bears jumped to a 7-1 start in 2012 but lost five of their next six games and eventually missed the playoffs, which prompted Lovie Smith’s dismissal after nine seasons as coach.

With that said, the Bears final six games of the regular season include four road contests against St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland and Philadelphia. The Bears also will host the Cowboys in the fourth-to-last game of the regular season, and they will host the Packers on Dec. 29 at Soldier Field in the regular season finale.

Here is a look at the Bears' week-by-week schedule for 2013:

Week 1 / Sept. 8 / BENGALS / Noon / CBS

Week 2 / Sept. 15 / VIKINGS / Noon / FOX

Week 3 / Sept. 22 / @ Steelers / 7:30 p.m. / NBC

Week 4 / Sept. 29 / @ Lions / Noon / FOX

Week 5 / Oct. 6 / SAINTS / Noon / FOX

Week 6 / Oct. 10 / GIANTS / 7:25 p.m. / NFLN

Week 7 / Oct. 20 / @ Redskins / Noon / FOX

Week 8 / Bye

Week 9 / Nov. 4 / @ Packers / 7:40 p.m. / ESPN

Week 10 / Nov. 10 / LIONS / Noon / FOX

Week 11 / Nov. 17 / RAVENS / Noon* / CBS

Week 12 / Nov. 24 / @ Rams / Noon* / FOX

Week 13 / Dec. 1 / @ Vikings / Noon / FOX

Week 14 / Dec. 9 / COWBOYS / 7:40 p.m. / ESPN

Week 15 / Dec. 15 / @ Browns / Noon / FOX

Week 16 / Dec. 22  /@ Eagles / Noon / FOX

Week 17 / Dec. 29 / PACKERS / Noon / FOX

*-subject to flexible scheduling

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