In a surprise, the NFL announced on Thursday that the Detroit Lions will visit the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL Kickoff Game on Sept. 7.
The Lions are coming off their first winning season (9-8) since 2017, but the opponent choice for the opening game still came as a stunner to many. The Chiefs have a stacked slate of 2023 home opponents, namely the Philadelphia Eagles (a rematch of Super Bowl 57), the Cincinnati Bengals (a rematch of the last two AFC Championship games), the rival Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins.
And for most NFL Kickoff Games, the league usually pits the defending Super Bowl champion against a playoff team from the previous year.
During an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show”, Onnie Bose, the NFL Vice President of broadcast, explained why they chose the Lions as the Chiefs’ Week 1 opponent (h/t Charles Goldman of Chiefs Wire):
“There are years where we say, ‘This is the one game we’re going to play on kickoff. This year, we kind of said, ‘There are a lot of games that we’ve got to consider.’ And as we went through the process, the Lions were one of those teams that we left in there. And we really like the narrative around that time, the culture that they’re building there.
The way they finished their season, eight wins out of their last nine of ten games. The last time we saw them on national television was the last game, game 272 of the regular season, and they were beating the Packers in Lambeau to keep Aaron Rodgers out of the playoffs. We really like that. There is a lot of energy there and we feel really good about starting the season with that energy against the Super Bowl champs.”
The Lions have never appeared in an NFL Kickoff Game since the league commenced the annual event in 2002. The Chiefs were in the 2017 kickoff game, where they stunned the defending champion New England Patriots 42-27 at Foxborough.
And of course, the Chiefs opened the 2020 season as the defending Super Bowl champions against the Houston Texans in Week 1 of that year. Kansas City soundly won that game 34-20.WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.