KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At last, the wait is over and NFL season is finally upon us, and more specifically, Kansas City Chiefs football is upon us.
The Chiefs will welcome a gritty Detroit Lions team that come into the year expected to be one of the better teams in the NFC.
Super Bowl banner number three will be raised for Kansas City as they look to become the first team to repeat since the New England Patriots did so in 2003 and 2004.
And that journey begins at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night. Here’s a look at how the two squads match up.
There’s not really much that needs to be said about quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He comes into the year, coming off one of the best individual seasons in NFL history, winning an MVP, Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP.
He has already proven himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league’s history in just five seasons. He goes into the year with the same expectations which he continuously seems to exceed.
On the other hand, you have Jared Goff. The former 1st pick has proven to be among the better signal-callers in the league with his steady play.
He finished last season with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions and really played well at the end of the season.
Goff may not be among the league’s elite, but he is a solid QB who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
The Chiefs boast the best tight end in the league in Travis Kelce and have a surplus of receivers Mahomes can distribute the ball too.
That list includes Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Rashee Rice. The receiving core is young and deep, the deepest Mahomes and Andy Reid may have ever had at their disposal.
The running back situation will be interesting. Isiah Pacheco ended last year very strong but he is returning from injury, so it will be interesting how many carries he gets. Jerick McKinnon performed well beyond expectations, showing himself as a dangerous threat in the pass game.
And then you have Clyde Edwards-Helaire who’s been up-and-down during his time with the Chiefs.
The Lions boast up and coming receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who—after a solid 2022 season—is primed to be among the league’s elite pass-catchers this year. They will be without second-year wideout Jameson Williams, who was suspended for six games.
But they have some veteran depth with Kalif Raymond and Marvin Jones Jr.
They lost running back Jamaal Williams to free-agency. Williams led the league in rushing touchdowns.
Detroit used their first pick in the draft on Jahmyr Gibbs. The Georgia Tech product will look to lead the Lions rushing attack along with David Montgomery, who they acquired in free-agency back in March.
The tandem will give the Lions a steady dose of power and speed.
The Chiefs defense comes into the season as their biggest question mark, especially if veteran Chris Jones continues to hold out. The defense came on strong at the end of the season, especially in the secondary, where the Chiefs are still very young.
L’Jarius Sneed is one of the most underrated corners in the league and Trent McDuffie is primed to have a breakout year. Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson also should be much improved.
Justin Reid is one of the better safeties in the league and he’ll be alongside Bryan Cook.
There is also a lot of youth among their edge rushers with Felix Anudike-Uzomah, George Karlaftis, Mike Danna and BJ Thompson. If Jones isn’t available, they will have to step up in a big way.
The strongest part of the Chiefs defense is their linebacker group. Willie Gay and Nick Bolton give the Chiefs one of the best linebacker duos in the league. The addition of Drue Tranquill should also help bolster things.
For the Lions, they have Aidan Hutchinson, who is one of the league’s best young pass rushers. On the other side of him is veteran and KCMO native Charles Harris.
In the safety, they have former Philadelphia Eagle CJ Gardner Johnson, who joins his new team after leading the league in interceptions last season. They also added defensive back Cameron Sutton in the offseason. Their secondary should be much improved.
Many would argue that Andy Reid is currently the best coach in the NFL. In fact, The offensive guru is one of the best in NFL history.
Reid has been with the franchise for a decade now, helping lead them to unprecedented levels of success.
Since Reid’s arrival the Chiefs usually always get off to fast starts. They are 9-1 in Week 1’s under Reid.
The fiery Dan Campbell is under the headset for the Lions. Campbell has a unique coaching style, that could be considered rambunctious.
He seems to do a good job motivating his players with his approach, but Campbell will now be expected to get results from his team as they have high expectations going into his third season.
Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has proved to be one of the best and most clutch in the league. Outside of the occasional extra point struggles. Butker is as reliable as they come.
Tommy Townsend is also one of the league’s best punters. Richie James will handle both kick and punt return duties for the Chiefs. It was be interesting to see if special teams coach Dave Toub interchanges the returners like last season.
The Lions have one of the best returners in the league in Raymond. He was third in the NFL in return yards per game last year at 13.2.
He can make defenses pay and does a good job getting the Lions in good field position.
The Chiefs will be getting everyone’s best shot once again, something they’ve grown accustomed to the past five seasons. The Lions come into this game and season after a strong finish to last year, increasing their playoff expectations
While the Chiefs will likely be without Jones, it will be interesting to see how they hold up against the Lions, especially the pass-rush.
With the Chiefs’ success in Week 1s and a deeper and likely even better offense along with the atmosphere of Arrowhead behind them, the Chiefs should be favored. But it won’t be easy against a solid Lions team and a dark horse NFC contender.