By Chris Emma

By Chris Emma–

(CBS) Mark your calendars. Football is on its way.

Not too far removed from their worst season on the 16-game slate, the Bears can now look ahead to a new beginning with the 2017 NFL schedule officially released.

Week 1 brings the defending NFC champion Falcons to Soldier Field for the season opener. The Bears follow with three potentially tough games, with a trip to Tampa for a game with the Buccaneers in Week 2, a home game against the Steelers in Week 3 and a short week before a Thursday contest against the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 4. This will mark the seventh straight year with a primetime contest in Green Bay.

The Bears will play 13 of their 16 games on Sundays. The game Week 4 contest in Green Bay marks the first primetime game, and the following matchup against Minnesota in Week 5 is on a Monday night. The Bears-Lions game in Week 15 is on a Saturday.

After the Week 4 game in Green Bay, the Bears play just three times on the road between then and Week 12, a game in Philadelphia with the Eagles. The Bears host the Browns on Christmas Eve at Soldier Field, then finish the campaign for a second straight season in Minnesota with the Vikings.

Here is the full schedule, as made official with the NFL’s release on Thursday evening.

Week 1: Sept. 10, noon CT vs. Falcons

Week 2: Sept. 17, noon CT at Buccaneers

Week 3: Sept. 24, noon CT vs. Steelers

Week 4: Sept. 28, 7:25 p.m. CT at Packers

Week 5: Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m. CT vs. Vikings

Week 6: Oct. 15, noon CT at Ravens

Week 7: Oct. 22, noon CT vs. Panthers

Week 8: Oct. 29, noon CT at Saints

Week 9: Bye

Week 10: Nov. 12, noon CT vs. Packers

Week 11: Nov. 19, noon CT vs. Lions

Week 12: Nov. 26, noon CT at Eagles

Week 13: Dec. 3, noon CT vs. 49ers

Week 14: Dec. 10, noon CT at Bengals

Week 15: Dec. 16, 3:30 p.m. CT at Lions

Week 16: Dec. 24, noon CT vs. Browns

Week 17: Dec. 31, noon CT at Vikings

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Watch & Listen LIVE