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The Chicago Bears — and the NFL — are kicking off their 100th season in 2019. Naturally, it’s important to feature the founding team in a prominent way.

The NFL announced Monday that the Bears will kick off the 2019 season by hosting the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, Sept. 5, at Soldier Field. The NFL has annually reserved that Thursday night opener for the defending Super Bowl champions since 2003. The Bears, however, were bestowed that honor, given the significance of this season.

“As an organization, we are thrilled to be kicking off the 100th season of football in the NFL,” Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said, via the team’s website. “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.”

Bears cannot have another season opener like 2018

My sensible brain is at war with my meatball heart right now.

My brain knows that the Bears-Packers game is “just another game.” Just one game out of a slate of 16. A loss would be but a blip on the radar. A momentary stumble from which they quickly recover.

However, my meatball heart says this is like the Super Bowl. This is a heated, bitter rivalry in which the Packers have held the advantage since Brett Favre took his first snap for the Cheeseheads in 1992. And the last thing the Bears need to endure is an embarrassing defeat akin to the second-half collapse in last year’s season opener at Lambeau Field.

Truthfully, pride is the only thing that can be wounded in a Week 1 loss to the Packers.

Yes, it’s a division game and every team should strive to win them all. But no team that misses the playoffs can say with a straight face, “We missed the postseason because we lost in Week 1.”

That’s a lousy — and lazy — way of analyzing one’s season. A team’s last loss is the first one they should point to. There are 15 more chances to avenge an opening night loss.

If we’ve learned nothing from last season, we know at least the following. As devastating as it was to lose to the Packers in the manner in which the Bears did, they survived. For as bleak an outlook it appeared to be, it became a distant memory. Despite the importance of the game, the Bears finished the season 12-4 and were the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.

Still, my meatball heart says I want a storybook start to this historic season.