BOSTON (CBS) – New England fans have become accustomed to life with the Patriots as Super Bowl champions. That usually comes with a banner ceremony and the NFL spotlight on a Thursday night during the first week of September.
This may not be the case this year, as the NFL is reportedly leaning toward the 2019 season with the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, not the defending Super Bowl champions, according to the Sports Business Journal. While it's likely that he's screaming conspiracy theory, accusing the NFL of not wanting to show the Patriots raising their sixth Super Bowl banner, there's something of historical significance at the start of 2019 with the Bears and Packers:
The NFL is keen to have Chicago host the first game of the season as part of its 100 season celebration, allowing it to showcase the league's oldest rivalry. The Bears and Packers played for the first time in 1921 and faced 198 times.
So where does that leave the Patriots and their next banner ceremony? They would probably open Sunday night on football on September 8, becoming the first defending Super Bowl champion not to appear in the first NFL game since 2006.
Possible rivals in the 2019 first game at Gillette Stadium are the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers or an AFC Championship Game rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The NFL will release its full calendar in the next two months.