So who will Packers open 2011 season against?

For those who don’t want to get sucked into CBA discussion just yet, we can begin speculation who the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers will open the 2011 season against on Kickoff Weekend.

Yes, we’re operating under the assumption there will be football in 2011 and that it will start on time. The owners and players both know they have too much to lose to screw this thing up right now.

So, let’s take a look at who the Packers could open up with in prime time on Thursday, Sept. 8, at Lambeau Field. The NFL has given the first game of the season to the defending Super Bowl champion since 2004 and that tradition is expected to continue.

Two of the eight teams the Packers are scheduled to host jump out at you when you scan the list of their 2011 opponents: Chicago and New Orleans. The Bears and Packers would be a rematch of the 2010 NFC Championship Game. That is what the league featured this past season when the Saints hosted the Minnesota Vikings for the Thursday night kickoff game – a rematch of the 2009 NFC title game. The NFL could choose the Saints and Packers and have the previous two Super Bowl champions on display.

The Packers will also host Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Denver, Oakland, Detroit and Minnesota. The Buccaneers could be an interesting team in 2011 after they improved to win 10 games. But that looks like a matchup that might be better suited for a Monday night audience. The draw of Bears-Packers and Saints-Packers would both pack a bigger punch. It's fair to assume Green Bay will be slotted with five prime-time games from the start. The NFL schedule is typically released in April.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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