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Packers won't play in 2012 Kickoff

Mar 27, 2012 -- 3:10pm
Photo/Getty Images

PALM BEACH, Fla. – If you were planning to attend the annual NFL Kickoff game, expecting to see your beloved Green Bay Packers, you can stop searching for flights and hotel accommodations.

Instead, the league announced at the annual NFL Meetings Tuesday that the defending Super Bowl XLVI-champion New York Giants will play host to their NFC East division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, on Wednesday, Sept. 5 at MetLife Stadium.

The Packers were widely expected to be the Giants’ opponent, for obvious reasons: The game would have pitted the past two Super Bowl champions and Super Bowl MVPs (Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning) against each other, and the Giants eliminated the defending Super Bowl XLV champions from the playoffs last year with their NFC Divisional Playoff victory at Lambeau Field on Jan. 15.

The game will be shown on NBC, as usual. Last year’s Giants-Cowboys game on NBC in the regular season finale delivered the largest audience in the history of Sunday Night Football, an average of 27.6 million viewers.

The game marks the ninth time that the defending champion has kicked off the following season, and the champions are a perfect 8-0 after the Packers beat the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 8, 2011.

According to NBC, Cowboys-Giants has been a traditionally big draw for the network’s prime-time NFL games. Here are NBC’s all-time top 10:

1. 27.6 million, Cowboys-Giants, 1/1/12 (2011 SNF Week 17)
2. 27.5 million, Vikings-Saints, 9/9/10 (2010 Thursday Night Opener)
3. 27.2 million, Saints-Packers, 9/8/11 (2011 Thursday Night Opener)
4. 25.8 million, Cowboys-Jets, 9/11/11 (2011 SNF Week 1)
5. 25.73 million, Eagles-Cowboys, 12/12/10 (2010 SNF Week 14)
6. 25.68 million, Vikings-Packers, 10/24/10, (Favre Return to Lambeau II)
7. 25.3 million, Cowboys-Redskins, 9/12/10 (2010 SNF: Week 1)
8. 24.8 million, Giants-Cowboys, 9/20/09 (Dallas Cowboys Stadium Debut)
9. 24.5 million, Giants-Cowboys, 12/11/11 (2011 SNF Week 14)
10. 24.2 million, Packers-Patriots, 12/19/10 (2010 SNF Week 15)

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