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NFL announces Packers-Bears game to open 2019 season on Thursday Night

Instead of the Super Bowl winner opening the season, the NFL is giving a nod to history for a milestone year.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T

It’s official: the NFL will kick off its 100th season with another edition of its oldest and most-played rivalry.

Normally, the league begins each season with last year’s Super Bowl winner hosting a rival or other premier matchup on the Thursday of week one. However, for the 2019 season — the 100th campaign in the league’s history — the plan has changed, in a nod to history. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will play in the upcoming season’s kickoff game, to be held at Soldier Field in Chicago. The exact date of the game will be September 5th, with kickoff taking place at 7:20 PM Central Time.

Although the matchup had been widely speculated previously, the league made the announcement official on Monday afternoon during this week’s annual meeting.

This will be the 199th meeting between the two legendary franchises in their storied history, and the 197th in the regular season. The Packers hold a 97-95-6 lead overall, and they took the head-to-head lead early on in 2017 with a 35-14 victory. That put the Packers ahead in the rivalry for the first time in over eight decades. Meanwhile, the playoff history is tied at one win apiece.

In addition, the two franchises rank first and second in the number of members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who are claimed by individual franchises. 28 individuals who spent significant time with the Bears are in the Hall, while the Packers claim 25.

With this game taking the Thursday Night time slot, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will instead open their season on Sunday Night. Their opponent has not been announced yet.