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Who will the Packers host in the NFL’s Thursday night opener?

Shutdown Corner

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The NFL schedule will be released sometime in the next few days, labor agreement or not. One of the biggest questions ahead of the release is who the Green Bay Packers will face in the traditional league's Thursday night season opener. Shutdown Corner looks at the chances for the eight teams who will visit Lambeau Field this year and assigned completely arbitrary percentages to all the possibilities:

8. Detroit Lions -- The Lions haven't played in primetime since 2002. Recent news that the team's nabbed a nationally televised appearance in the preseason was greeted with excitement in the Detroit area, so getting the league's marquee regular season spot may be a ways away. WAYS away. Chance: 0%

7. Denver Broncos -- Unless John Fox announces that John Elway will return to play quarterback and Tim Tebow will play all the other 21 positions on the field, don't expect to see the Mile High crew in Lambeau. Chance: 0%

6. St. Louis Rams -- Pros: Surprise 2010 playoff team, next potential quarterbacking star, underrated running back. Cons: Are St. Louis Rams. Chance: 2%

5. Minnesota Vikings -- In theory, this should be a zero. But in theory, communism works and Brett Favre would have stayed retired the first time. Chance: 3%

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- There's going to be one team that gets too many primetime games based on last year's late-season push. (See: Cleveland Browns, 2008; San Francisco 49ers, 2010.) My bet for this year is the Bucs. Chance: 3%

3. Oakland Raiders -- Of course, it could be the Raiders, too. We give them the slight edge here because of the team's national following but not too much of one because showing Al Davis on live TV might be considered an FCC violation. Chance: 5%

2. Chicago Bears -- One of the top rivalries in football, a rematch of last year's competitive (if slightly boring) NFC championship game and a golden opportunity to show countless replays on Jay Cutler casually standing on the sideline. It's a perfect opener for the NFL and NBC except for one thing: Since the tradition of the defending Super Bowl champions hosting the Thursday night opener began in 2004, a divisional matchup has only been featured once (in 2008, when the New York Giants played the Washington Redskins). Chance: 42%

1. New Orleans Saints -- A matchup of the last two Super Bowl champions, each of which are helmed by marquee quarterbacks, would be a nice way for the NFL to start the process of healing after the lockout. If the game is half as good as it sounds, that process should last all of three hours. Chance: 45%

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