BOSTON (CBS) — New England fans have gotten used to life with the Patriots as Super Bowl champs. With that usually comes a banner ceremony and the NFL spotlight on a Thursday evening during the first week of September.

That may not be the case this year, as the NFL is reportedly leaning toward kicking off the 2019 season with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers — not the defending Super Bowl champions, according to the Sports Business Journal. While you’re likely screaming conspiracy theory, accusing the NFL of not wanting to showcase the Patriot raising their sixth Super Bowl banner, there is some historical significance to kicking off 2019 with the Bears and Packers:

The NFL is leaning toward having Chicago host the season’s first game as part of its 100th season celebration, allowing it to showcase the league’s oldest rivalry. The Bears and Packers first played in 1921 and have faced each other 198 times

So where does that leave the Patriots and their upcoming banner ceremony? They would likely open on Sunday Night Football on Sept. 8, becoming the first defending Super Bowl champ not to appear in the NFL’s opening game since 2006.

Likely opponents for the 2019 opener at Gillette Stadium include the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers or an AFC Championship Game rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The NFL will release its full schedule sometime in the next two months.


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