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GREEN BAY - To open its 100th season, the NFL will showcase its oldest rivalry.

The Green Bay Packers will travel to Soldier Field on Sept. 5 for a Thursday night kickoff against the Chicago Bears, the league announced Monday. The defending Super Bowl champion typically hosts the NFL’s first game of the season, but the league broke from tradition to honor its history.

It’ll be the 199th game between the two rivals, with kickoff set for 7:20 p.m. CDT on NBC. The Packers will host the rivalry’s 200th game at Lambeau Field later in the season.

For the Packers, the game will kick off their 100th birthday. The team was founded Aug. 11, 1919, a year before the NFL was formed. It completed its 100th season last year.

“We were excited about it. I thought it would be good for us,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said. “I think it’s obviously good for the league. You have traditional rivals, the longest rivalry in the NFL. … It should be a great way to kick off the season.”

It will also give new Packers coach Matt LaFleur an immediate perspective of his team’s intense NFC North rivalry. Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy was in those shoes one year ago, traveling to Lambeau Field for his first game. The Packers won the 2018 opener behind Aaron Rodgers’ remarkable second-half comeback from a 20-0 deficit.

The Packers last opened their season on the road in 2016. They last played in the NFL’s season opener in 2014 at the Seattle Seahawks, who were the league’s defending champions.

That was also the last time the Packers lost a season opener. They’ll carry a four-game winning streak in their season openers into Soldier Field.

It will be the third time in five seasons the Packers open against the Bears. They last opened their season in Chicago with a 31-23 win in 2015.

Murphy said opening the season on a Thursday night doesn't necessarily mean the Packers won't play another Thursday game later in the year.

Super Bowl champion New England will host the season's first Sunday night game Sept. 8 against an opponent to be announced later.

 

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