Departing from its usual custom of allowing the Super Bowl champions to host the opening game of the following season, the NFL said its 100th season will open with the league’s oldest rivalry, between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
NBC will host the contest on Thursday, September 5, under a rights deal that allows for certain non-Sunday night broadcasts. Fox took over Thursday nights last season in the first of a multi-year deal, seeing increased ratings on the former laggard night as the league bounced back with stronger viewership overall.
The Bears-Packers contest at Chicago’s Soldier Field will be followed by a game September 8 on NBC to be hosted by the New England Patriots, winners of Super Bowl LIII last month. The league will announce its full schedule for 2019 season later in the spring.
The Bears and Packers have met 198 times in their history. At Lambeau Field in Green Bay, the Packers later in the season will host the 200th edition of the grudge match. Green Bay leads the all-time series — which began with Chicago’s 20-0 shutout in 1921 — by a margin of 97-95-6.
Last season, the Bears won the NFC North division before bowing out early in the playoffs. A healthy upswing in local viewership of Bears games helped push overall NFL ratings up as the league moved past the issues that had dogged the 2016 and 2017 seasons, including anthem protests and concerns about a primetime glut. Green Bay missed the playoffs with a 6-9-1 record, firing head coach Mike McCarthy during the disappointing campaign.
If you’re already looking forward to Super Bowl LIV, mark your calendar for February 2, 2020. The game will be played in Miami and broadcast by Fox.