America’s most popular pastimes, politics and football, nearly collided tonight — but there’s no reason to miss either one.

First, President Obama is addressing a joint session of Congress at 7 p.m. to lay out his plan for boosting employment. The talk is a response to an August jobs report showing no net gain in the U.S. work force and unemployment stuck at 9.1 percent.

The topic is a vital one, and the president’s prescription for resolving it deserves to be seen and evaluated by every American — even if it did get pushed back a day due to a GOP presidential debate last night, and then was forced into an early start tonight because of football.

Which many viewers are also awaiting, especially in Wisconsin and Louisiana: The NFL’s opening game, with the New Orleans Saints taking on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The winners of the last two Super Bowls are both expected to do well this season, but the home field has made the Packers a 4-point favorite with oddsmakers.

New England fans, of course, are awaiting the Patriots’ kickoff Monday at 7 p.m. at the Miami Dolphins, with the Pats a mere 1-point favorite. The game is early because ESPN has slated a Broncos-Raiders face-off at Denver at 10:15 p.m. — so it’s going to be a late night (or early morning) for hard-core fans.

For New England’s “other team,” the New York Giants, fans can catch them playing the Washington Redskins at 4:15 p.m. Sunday, with former Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman starting for D.C.

With the economy stuck in a hole, perhaps it’s a blessing that Americans have a diversion to focus on in the coming weeks and months.