On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs return to the practice field to get ready for the season opener against the Detroit Lions on Thursday Night. As the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Chiefs face a Lions team that narrowly missed the playoffs a season ago. They have a strong leader in Head Coach, Dan Campbell, a young roster, and the energy to make this an interesting game.
Though I won’t go on the line like my friend Nick Wright did this week on his FS1 TV Show, emphatically stating, and backing it up with a tattoo, the Chiefs will be 20-0. The Chiefs likely won’t run the table in 2023.
For that to happen, a perfect storm of events must fall clearing a path for what might be sports ultimate perfection record. The Miami Dolphins went 17-0 in 1972 and only the New England Patriots in 2007 came the closest. However, their perfection ended at the hands of the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
First up the Chiefs must face a Lions team that has some solid playmakers, they are well coached and fired up to be playing in Kansas City to open the season. Of all the choices the NFL had with the season opener, the Lions were probably the team I feared most.
You always get nervous playing a team that was on the brink of a playoff spot, has a wildly aggressive Head Coach, who accepts the challenge he faces to start the season, and has preached upset to his players since the game was announced in May.
Offensively, the Chiefs face a familiar foe in Lions Quarterback, Jared Goff. The last time he played the Chiefs was in 2018 as the Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback, where he won an epic showdown against Patrick Mahomes, 54-51. In that game, he was unstoppable, but so were the Chiefs. Still, Goff will face a much better KC defense than he did five years ago.
To his credit, Goff has rebounded well in Detroit and much of his success a year ago, had to do with Campbell’s confidence in the signal caller. This season, they have high hopes in a very weak NFC North division they can make a playoff run.
Goff is the benefactor of a steady offensive line that all started in front of him last season. At the wide receiver position, though Jameson Williams is suspended to start the season, the trio of Josh Reynolds. Marvin Jones, Jr., and Amon-Ra St. Brown have potential. Add free agent running back, David Montgomery and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, and Goff has a nice mix of youth and experience to work with this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions are led by 2022 draft pick, Aidan Hutchinson, rookie linebacker, Jack Campbell, and free agent cornerback, C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The trio form a solid nucleus for a defense that made great strides last season.
The disadvantage the Lions face Thursday night is real, and it won’t be easy to come out of Arrowhead with a victory. Forget the opponent for a moment, they’ll also be facing one of the most hostile home environments in the NFL. Arrowhead will be busting at the seams in welcoming back their Super Bowl Champions, so that might be harder to overcome than the Chiefs team itself.
In their only preseason game at home, Arrowhead was already in regular season mode. Heck, even the wave lasted about five minutes. To a fan, the Arrowhead faithful was unable to celebrate the Super Bowl LIV team, but that won’t be the case this time. So, I expect the fans will be a big distraction for the Lions.
For the Chiefs players, I find it hard to believe they won’t be hyped and ready to defend their Super Bowl Title and kick off the season with a win. Now, that doesn’t mean the game won’t be back and forth or could be close in the fourth quarter, but in these types of contests, Mahomes usually carries the team to victory.
I expect nothing else on Thursday Night.