The National Football League has announced its opening-night game for the 2019 season, and it is a departure from the norm. The opening game won’t feature the Super Bowl champions as is typical but rather the Green Bay Packers taking on the Chicago Bears as part of a celebration of the NFL’s 100th season. The Packers and Bears were among the league’s first franchises dating back to 1920-21.
NFL announces #Packers at #Bears will be the Thursday night opener for the 100th NFL season.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 25, 2019
The champion New England Patriots will instead play on Sunday Night Football, with the opponent yet to be announced.
#Patriots will host Sunday Night Football in Week 1. Opponent TBD.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 25, 2019
That has to be an AFC title rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs, doesn’t it?
Well sure, until you consider the other options. Here is who the Patriots have as home-game options for the 2019 season:
Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets
You could see where the NFL could consider Dallas or New York because of market size. There is also the possibility of the new-look Cleveland Browns, considering all their offseason acquisitions (highlighted by wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.).
There is also a case to be made for the league wanting to save Patrick Mahomes-Tom Brady III for later in the season, when top playoff seeding may more tangibly on the line.
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra speculated about the Chiefs playing on banner night back on February 24.
PATRA: The NFL loves playoff rematches in the opener, and this one would bring everything to the table. The last two Chiefs-Pats games were marvelous showcases, each coming down to the wire. K.C. boasts regular season MVP Patrick Mahomes to pit against Tom Brady. Bill Belichick versus Andy Reid. The Pats’ Super Bowl-winning D against Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Dee Ford staying onside. The stories go on and on. Perhaps the NFL would rather save this tilt for later in the season, but if the league wants to kick off the 2019 campaign with a bang, it cannot go wrong with this matchup.
Patra also suggested the Browns and Steelers as top options. The NFL typically releases the next season’s schedule a week or so before that year’s draft. That would be around April 18 this year.
Do you want to see the Chiefs play the Patriots Week 1 on Sunday Night Football?
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