The NFL’s 100th season will open with the 199th meeting between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
The league announced Monday that it would forgo the traditional opening-night matchup in which the Super Bowl winner hosts the first game of the season on the Thursday of Week 1.
Instead, one of the NFL’s classic rivalries will open the season on Thursday, Sept. 5, from Chicago’s Soldier Field in prime time (8:20 p.m. ET on NBC). The league also announced that the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will open their season on Sunday Night Football at home against an opponent to be determined.
“As an organization, we are thrilled to be kicking off the 100th season of football in the NFL,” Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement. “As a charter franchise, we cannot think of a better way to begin our centennial season than by hosting our longtime rival in prime time at Soldier Field.”
The announcement was made at the NFL annual meetings in Phoenix.
Last season, the Packers hosted the Bears at Lambeau Field to open the historic 100th season of football in Green Bay (the Packers were founded before the NFL came into existence).
The Packers won that game but lost in Week 15 at Chicago, where the Bears clinched the NFC North title.
The Packers hold a 97-95-6 series advantage, including playoffs, but did not retake the series lead until they beat the Bears in Week 4 of the 2017 season. That marked the first time they had held the series lead since 1933. The 2019 NFL opener will mark the first game for new Packers coach Matt LaFleur, who was hired in January.
With the Patriots slated to open Week 1 at home on Sunday Night Football, the question becomes which team will play the defending champions. One intriguing possibility is the revamped Cleveland Browns, who are scheduled to travel to Gillette Stadium at some point during the 2019 season.
“You’re gonna play what the schedule-makers deem,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said of the possibility while speaking at the NFL annual meeting Monday. “The NFL is hard. You play for the challenge that lies ahead.”