Packers-Bears rivalry takes place of traditional NFL kickoff game featuring the Super Bowl champs

Traditionally, the first game of each NFL season is hosted by the league's defending champions – but not this time around. 

The New England Patriots, who won Super Bowl LIII, are instead kicking off the regular season on Sunday night at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The first game of the season on Thursday night will instead be the Green Bay Packers traveling to take on the Chicago Bears. 

But, why?

[Watch live local and primetime NFL games free with the Yahoo Sports app]

The NFL is choosing to kick off its 100th season with its most iconic rivalry. Though there are plenty of teams that could be considered rivals across the league, the Packers and Bears are the most historic.

The teams are separated by a mere 200 miles and have met 198 times in total, with Green Bay leading the all-time series 97-95-6. The franchises have met more times than any other pair of teams in history. 

The teams have also won a combined 22 NFL championships, five of which have come in the Super Bowl era. Since 1970, the Packers and Bears have both been in the NFC North division, leading to at least two matchups every single season. 

In 2019, the NFC North is looking like the toughest division in the league, making Thursday night's game – and the next meeting between the Packers and Bears Week 15 – all the more interesting. 

But don't worry, Patriots fans. You'll still see your banner raised in primetime on Sunday. 

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.