NFL Opening Night to Feature Lions-Chiefs as League Bets Big on Detroit

Kansas City is certainly ready for primetime but are the Lions?

The Kansas City Chiefs line up against the Detroit Lions.
The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Detroit Lions to open the season.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL is betting big that the Detroit Lions, who began last year as the only team in the league without a Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football game on their schedule, are finally getting a chance to prove they are ready for primetime as the club will travel to Kansas City to take on Chiefs on the league’s opening night.

The Lions, who did play a nationally televised game last season thanks to their annual appearance on Thanksgiving and ended up playing a second when their Week 18 game against the Packers was flexed into primetime, gained national attention last year by appearing on HBO’s Hard Knocks and followed that up by compiling a surprising 9-8 record under second-year coach Dan Campbell. Detriot, which had not had a winning record since 2017, won eight of their final 10 games in 2022-23 to finish above .500.

It’s a nice story, but the Lions will have their work cut out for them against the defending champs when they unveil the banner marking their Super Bowl LVII victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in front of a packed house at Arrowhead Stadium. The home team is 16-5 overall in the NFL Kickoff Game, and the Chiefs are 2-0, having defeated the champion New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in 2017 as well as knocking off the Texans in 2020 following the prior season’s win over the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

The game will be Detroit’s first visit to Kansas City in two decades as the last time the Lions visited the Chiefs came back in December 2003. It will also be the first time Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff have faced each other since 2018 when the Los Angeles Rams beat the Chiefs 54-51 in a wild game that saw both quarterbacks combine for 10 touchdowns and nearly 900 passing yards. The offensive showcase, which did include three defensive touchdowns, was the first time two teams had each scored at least 50 points in an NFL game.

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In other Week 1 news, the Bills will travel to MetLife Stadium to face the Jets during the first edition of Monday Night Football. Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Patriots, if they do open the season at home, will have Tom Brady in the house. Unfortunately for New England fans, he won’t be playing quarterback but will likely be at Gillette Stadium to see his number get retired and perhaps watch a statue get unveiled. (Rumor has it Brady’s return will come in Week 2 when the Dolphins visit the Patriots for Sunday Night Football.)

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