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Bears have primetime-heavy schedule

The Bears will play five games in primetime, help open a new stadium and play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1999.

The NFL released its 2014 schedule Wednesday, and the Bears will open the season at home in a Sunday noon game against the Bills.

In Week 2, the Bears play their first primetime game on a Sunday night, as they will travel to the Bay Area to play the first regular-season game in Levi’s Stadium against the 49ers.

The primetime slate continues in Week 3 in the Meadowlands against the Jets on “Monday Night Football.” That will be the key jaunt of the season, as the Bears return home to host the rival Packers, and Julius Peppers, at noon in Week 4. They will play in Lambeau on primetime for the second year in a row, facing the Packers on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 10.

The other games under the lights for the Bears will be in Week 14 against Henry Melton and the Cowboys on “Thursday Night Football” and the next week against the Saints on “Monday Night Football” at Soldier Field.

The Bears have back-to-back games against the AFC East midseason. They host the Dolphins in Week 7 at noon and travel to Foxborough to take on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots in Week 8 at noon. They follow those two games with a bye in Week 9.

Against the NFC South, the Bears play in Carolina against Ron Rivera’s Panthers in Week 5, in Atlanta against Mike Tice, Devin Hester and the Falcons in Week Six, and the game everyone will have circled – the Bears host Lovie Smith, Josh McCown and the Buccaneers in Week 12 on Nov. 23.

Bears fans can plan for Thanksgiving in Detroit. For the first time since 1999, the Bears will play the Lions on Turkey Day – they played the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in ’04. The Bears then host the Lions in Week 16.

The Bears will conclude the season against the other divisional foe, the Vikings, at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. They host the Vikings in Week 11.

Bears 2014 schedule

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7 vs. Bills, noon, Fox

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14 @ 49ers, 7:30 p.m., NBC

Week 3: Monday, Sept. 22 @ Jets, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28 vs. Packers, noon, Fox

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5 @ Panthers, noon, Fox

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12 @ Falcons, noon, Fox

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19 vs. Dolphins, noon, CBS

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26 @ Patriots, noon, Fox

Week 9: Bye

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9 @ Packers, 7:30 p.m., NBC

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16 vs. Vikings, noon, Fox

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23 vs. Buccaneers, noon, Fox

Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 27 @ Lions, 11:30 a.m., CBS

Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 4, vs. Cowboys, 7:25 p.m., CBS

Week 15: Monday, Dec. 15 vs. Saints, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21 vs. Lions, noon, Fox

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28 @ Vikings, noon, Fox

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