Bears to open NFL season versus Packers

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PHOENIX – With the Bears and the NFL both celebrating their 100th seasons this year, the league will kick off its 2019 campaign at Soldier Field.

The NFL announced Monday that the Bears will host the Green Bay Packers in the regular-season opener Thursday night, Sept. 5. The two longtime rivals have played 198 games against each other, with the first meeting in 1921.

“As an organization, we are thrilled to be kicking off the 100th season of football in the NFL,” said Bears chairman George H. McCaskey. “As a charter franchise, we cannot think of a better way to begin our centennial season by hosting our longtime rival in prime time at Soldier Field.”

The NFL also announced Monday that a free fan event will be held at Grant Park on the afternoon and evening of the Thursday night opener. It will include a pre-game concert and appearances by former Bears players. Fans will then have the chance to remain at Grant Park to watch the Bears-Packers game on video screens.

After losing to the Packers 24-23 in last year’s season opener on Sunday Night Football at Lambeau Field, the Bears clinched the NFC North championship with a 24-17 victory over Green Bay Dec. 16 at Soldier Field.

The defending Super Bowl champion typically hosts the NFL’s Thursday night regular-season opener. But the league made an exception this year to commemorate its 100th campaign.

This year will mark the sixth time the Bears will play their season opener in prime time. They beat the Giants 34-19 in Chicago in 1987 and the Cowboys 22-6 in Chicago in 1996 and lost to the Packers 38-24 in Green Bay in 1997 on Monday Night Football. They also defeated the Colts 29-13 in Indianapolis in 2008 and lost to the Packers 21-15 in Green Bay in 2009 and again last year on Sunday Night Football.

This will be the 14th straight season the Bears will play the Packers in a prime-time game. Since 2006, the teams have met seven times on Sunday Night Football, three times on Monday Night Football and three times on Thursday Night Football. The Bears have played the Packers in Green Bay in prime time each of the past eight seasons. This year’s opener will be the first night game between the two teams at Soldier Field since a 20-17 Bears win in 2010.

This year will mark the 34th time the Bears will open the season against the Packers. The Bears are 17-14-2 in those games, losing the last three 21-15 in 2009, 31-23 in 2015 and 24-23 last year. The Bears last beat the Packers in a season opener in 2006 when they blanked Green Bay 26-0 in what was the only home shutout in quarterback Brett Favre's career with the Packers.

The rest of the NFL’s regular-season schedule is expected to be announced in mid-April. In addition to opening against the Packers, the Bears will also host the Lions, Vikings, Cowboys, Giants, Chiefs, Chargers and Saints at Soldier Field. They will play the Raiders in London and also visit the Lions, Packers, Vikings, Eagles, Redskins, Broncos and Rams.

The Bears and the rest of the NFC North will play all four teams in both the NFC East and AFC West. The two games based on where the Bears finished in last year’s standings will be against the Saints and Rams, who won their respective divisions.

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