Packers vs Saints kicks off NFL season

It's back to football and the countdown is on for the TV teams, too.  The NFL will open the regular season on NBC, Thursday with a matchup of the last two Super Bowl Champions as the Packers host the Saints from Lambeau Field with coverage starting at 6:30 Central time. The first "Sunday Night Football" game of the season matches the Jets and the Cowboys from Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Coverage starts with "Football Night in America" at 6 p.m. CT.

"We are absolutely thrilled with our opening weekend," said analyst Cris Collinsworth, who will again team with Al Michaels to call the action each Sunday night.  "To get Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, the past two Super Bowl winners, playing on that opening Thursday night; two teams that believe in passing first, passing second, and passing third, and putting up a lot of points. We got a chance to watch the Saints in preseason and they were absolutely razor sharp as has been Aaron Rodgers and the Packers."

It's been quite a year for the Packers' QB.  A Super Bowl MVP.  The talk show circuit and last week, the #12 Aaron Rodgers jersey became the league's top seller.  Teammate Clay Matthews is #2.

League champs haven't always fared well the following season.  The Saints discovered that when they were eliminated at Seattle last January.  Opening night will bring the last two Super Bowl winners to the field, something studio analyst Rodney Harrison is looking forward to.

"We get an opportunity to see how Green Bay plays out in terms of how they can handle success and everything that's happened to them; how hungry they are; can they repeat? Drew Brees and the Saints losing, getting blown out in the playoffs last year by Seattle. I'm looking forward to it and I'm ready to go."

The Packers make at least three appearances on Sunday Night Football this season.

On October 9, it's a rematch of last year's NFC Divisional playoffs, which the Super Bowl champion Packers won 48-21. Matt Ryan leads the Falcons, who were an NFC best 13-3 last season, against the Packers and Super Bowl MVP Rodgers.

On Christmas night, it should be plenty chilly as two familiar foes will be wrapping up the holiday in prime time.  Bears-Packers is not only a rematch of last year's NFC Championship game but also the oldest rivalry in the history of the NFL. The two teams have met 182 times dating back to 1921 with the Bears holding the edge in the series 92-84-6. This is only the second time in history that these two teams are meeting on Christmas Day (2005).