Over the last few years, the NFL has had the defending Super Bowl champion open up the season with a home game (), but for the league's 100th anniversary season, things will get changed up a bit.
Instead of the Patriots hosting a game on Thursday night, it will be the Bears and Packers kicking off the season on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC. , but it is finally official -- Chicago will host Green Bay in Week 1 to begin the historic season.
The matchup between the two blue-chip franchises will be the 199th meeting in their long-standing NFC North rivalry. The Westgate has the Bears favored (8-5) to win the division, with the Packers (2-1) and Vikings (2-1) right behind them. FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey set the opening line for this matchup at Bears -4.
It's nice timing too, with the Packers rebooting a bit over the last two years and now looking to take advantage of the final years of Aaron Rodgers' career by adding Matt LaFleur as their new head coach. Several high-profile defensive additions as well as a pair of first-round picks have the Green Bay faithful excited for a bounce-back season.
Chicago couldn't be more thrilled for the Bears: in Matt Nagy's first season, Chicago traded for Khalil Mack and stormed to a stunning division title. Mitchell Trubisky enters his third season with plenty of weapons and the prospect of taking another leap and really delivering on his draft status. The Bears were dominant in 2018 but might not have flashed their full upside.
Putting that matchup in prime time in Week 1 to open the season only adds to the juice that already comes with every Bears-Packers game.
For the Patriots, they will open up their title defense on Sunday night, also on NBC as the first game in the network's "Sunday Night Football" package.
New England will raise yet another championship banner ahead of the game, which will begin at 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 8. The Patriots' opponent will be announced with the rest of the schedule when it is released closer to the draft.