Chicago Bears and Caleb Williams will find out their 2024 schedule soon. Here’s a wish list to maximize the QB’s star power.

Now that the NFL draft is over and rookie minicamp is in the rearview mirror, we’re closing in on the league’s next big unofficial holiday: schedule release day.

The buzz within league circles is that it will occur this week, potentially Wednesday night, with the inevitable schedule leaks likely coming earlier that day.

The Chicago Bears — with No. 1 pick Caleb Williams as their new headliner — are suddenly a big draw and likely to be featured on prime time often in 2024. And while the Bears have known their opponents since last season ended, there’s eagerness inside Halas Hall to learn how the schedule will be sequenced.

The Bears open the preseason Aug. 1 in Canton, Ohio, in the Hall of Fame Game against the Houston Texans, an opponent they also will face during the season. The Bears also are slated to “host” a game in the NFL’s international series at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, likely in October.

As the schedule release nears, we’re making a direct request for an ideal Bears itinerary. This isn’t a prediction or even a wild guess at how the schedule will take shape. It’s a wish list, an appeal to the schedule makers to maximize the theater for the Bears.

Week 1: Bears at Lions on ‘Monday Night Football’ (Sept. 9)

As the curtain lifts on the Williams era, why not start with a significant division road test under the lights? When Bears general manager Ryan Poles vowed, on Jan. 24, 2022, that his team would “take the (NFC) North and never give it back,” the Green Bay Packers were the reigning division champions. Then the Minnesota Vikings took the division crown the following fall. Now the Lions are entering a season as defending NFC North champs for the first time, and they seem built to hold their spot atop the division until further notice.

Week 2: Packers at Bears on ‘Sunday Night Football’ (Sept. 15)

To be honest, we really wanted this one in Week 1. But the Packers already are committed to opening their season in Brazil, so we’ll have to wait a week. No problem. The home opener still would have oomph. Capitalize on the game’s oldest rivalry by welcoming the league’s newest budding star to his new stage. Let Williams open his career at Soldier Field on a big stage in front of a jacked-up home crowd and national TV audience. And give him a pressure-packed challenge in trying to help end the Bears’ 10-game losing streak against the Packers.

Week 3: Bears at 49ers (Sept. 22)

The reigning NFC champions would provide a valuable early measuring stick for the Bears, especially for an on-the-rise defense led by Montez Sweat, Tremaine Edmunds and Jaylon Johnson.

Week 4: Patriots at Bears (Sept. 29)

In what seemed like a big breakout game for Justin Fields two years ago, the Bears went to Foxborough, Mass., and thumped Bill Belichick’s team 33-14. Now the Patriots have a new coach in Jared Mayo and a new quarterback in No. 3 pick Drake Maye. That presents a new opportunity for the Bears to win a game they’re supposed to.

Week 5: Panthers at Bears (Oct. 6)

Last year’s No. 1 pick, quarterback Bryce Young, faces this year’s No. 1 pick, Williams. Also, prepare for a week’s worth of social media reminders and TV graphics on the ridiculous collection of talent the Bears acquired as a result of trading the top pick in the 2023 draft to the Panthers.

Week 6: Jaguars vs. Bears in London (Oct. 13)

The Jaguars played back-to-back games in London last season, hosting the Falcons in Week 4 and then serving as the road team for a game against the Buffalo Bills at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the next week. This season the Jaguars’ two-week stay across the pond should culminate with a game against the Bears.

Week 7: Bye week

After the overseas trip, the Bears could benefit from an early breather and then reset for a demanding 12-game finishing stretch.

Week 8: Bears at Texans on ‘Sunday Night Football’ (Oct. 27)

C.J. Stroud was last season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, throwing for 4,108 yards and 23 touchdowns while leading the Texans on an improbable return to the playoffs. Williams is likely this year’s OROY favorite and will be looking to author a similar script with the Bears. A Sunday night audience would love to get a look at two of the league’s most promising young quarterbacks.

Week 9: Bears at Cardinals (Nov. 3)

The Cardinals have paired rookie wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. with quarterback Kyler Murray. Williams has his own rookie receiver in Rome Odunze — not to mention accomplished veterans DJ Moore and Keenan Allen. Certainly this sets up to be a more entertaining matchup than the Bears’ 27-16 defeat of the Cardinals on Christmas Eve last year.

Week 10: Seahawks at Bears (Nov. 10)

The Seahawks’ Mike Macdonald is one of four first-time head coaches on the Bears schedule. The others: the Patriots’ Mayo, the Panthers’ Dave Canales and the Titans’ Brian Callahan.

Week 11: Titans at Bears (Nov. 17)

The Titans replaced Mike Vrabel with Callahan and are trying to squeeze the most out of Will Levis as the potential franchise quarterback. Levis has talent in his receiving corps in DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley and two first-round picks on his line in Peter Skoronski and JC Latham.

Week 12: Bears at Packers (Nov. 24)

A football junkie like Williams should be in heaven during his first trip to Lambeau Field. It is, after all, the place where Williams’ favorite quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, started for 15 seasons. Make this the Sunday afternoon spotlight game and away we go.

Week 13: Vikings at Bears on Thanksgiving night (Nov. 28)

The Bears have gone on the road for Thanksgiving in five of the last 10 seasons. But why lean on an early game in Detroit as custom when the Bears can play a prime-time game next to Lake Michigan against Justin Jefferson and the Vikings?

Week 14: Bears at Commanders on ‘Thursday Night Football’ (Dec. 5)

In some circles, there was serious debate about whether Williams was a better prospect than fellow Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels, whom the Commanders selected at No. 2. Why not test the premise in front of the Amazon Prime Video audience in early December?

Week 15: Bears at Colts (Dec. 15)

A quick trek south gives the Bears another reunion with Matt Eberflus’ former team. Depending on the health and developmental progress of Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson, could it also be a December reunion with 39-year-old Joe Flacco?

Week 16: Rams at Bears (Dec. 22)

Matthew Stafford was 5-6 at Soldier Field as the quarterback of the Lions. He threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns in his last game in Chicago late in the 2020 season.

Week 17: Bears at Vikings (Dec. 28)

Turn on the prime-time lights one more time for a key divisional showdown Saturday in Minneapolis.

Week 18: Lions at Bears (Jan. 5)

The Bears have played either the Packers or Vikings in the regular-season finale in 10 of the last 11 seasons. Let’s change it up for 2024. And let’s hope something significant is at stake as the reigning division champion Lions make their annual visit to Chicago.