The 2018 NFL season just ended eight days ago, but there are already apparent leaks of the 2019 NFL schedule. According to John Ourand of the SportBusiness Daily, the Packers and Bears are likely to open the 2019 season in a game at Soldier Field. This would go against tradition of the defending Super Bowl champions opening the season with a home game, and it would be the first time since 2006 that the defending champions don’t open the season.
2019 is the NFL’s 100th anniversary season, and it has been long rumored that the league wants a historic rivalry to open the year, with the Super Bowl LIII champions instead playing in the first Sunday night game of the season. It appears this will happen, as the Packers and Bears are the oldest rivalry in the sport, battling 198 times since their first matchup in 1921.
The SportsBusiness Daily reports the Giants are the most likely option to face the Patriots in Foxboro a few days after the season opener, but the NFL is said to also be considering the Browns, Chiefs, and Steelers. The Giants have played in the first Sunday Night Football game three times since 2013, and the big-market appeal—along with star power on both sides and a matchup between teams that played in the Super Bowl twice since the 2007 season—makes them a logical and likely choice.
The Bears and Lions will also reportedly play on Thanksgiving for the second straight season, while the Dolphins will reportedly face the Cowboys, which is a bit of a surprise.
The NFL schedule releases in the spring, usually in April.