National Football League confirms Bears versus Packers will be 1st game of 2019 season

Patriots officially will open season on Sunday night, not Thursday

Traditionally, the Super Bowl champions from the previous season host the inaugural game to start the season, but the National Football League has made an exception ahead of its 100th season.

NBC will host the contest on Thursday, September 5, under a rights deal that allows for certain non-Sunday night broadcasts. Typically, the defending Super Bowl champion would host an opposing team for the first regular-season game of the year. The Patriots' opponent will be announced with the rest of the schedule when it is released closer to the draft.

Over the last few years, the NFL has had the defending Super Bowl champion open up the season with a home game (unless the Orioles screw things up), but for the league's 100th anniversary season, things will get changed up a bit.

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The league's most historic rivalry will make the beginning of the centennial season, as was long rumored this offseason.

The Packers hold a slight advantage in the all-time series, with the Bears now 94-96-6 against Green Bay. The Bears returned the favor in Chicago, clinching the NFC North title with a win over the Packers at Soldier Field in Week 15. The NFL opener will mark the first game for new Packers' coach Matt LaFleur, who was hired in January.

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