Patriots

Patriots

The NFL reportedly is considering breaking with tradition at the expense of the New England Patriots.

The league is "leaning toward" having the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, Sept. 5, to kick off the 2019 NFL season, John Ourand of the SportsBusiness Journal reported Monday.

If this happens, the Patriots would become the first defending Super Bowl champion since 2006 not to play in the NFL's first game of the season.

The NFL is celebrating its 100th season in 2019, which is why it's considering featuring Bears-Packers -- the league's oldest rivalry -- in its Thursday night opener on NBC.

Per Ourand, the Patriots would bump to NBC's "Sunday Night Football" game if Bears-Packers is on Thursday night.

It's still unclear who New England would play, but it likely would be a high-profile opponent: Ourand speculates the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers all are on the table.

The Patriots' 2019 opponents already are set, but the official schedule likely won't be finalized until April, according to Ourand.

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