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2023 NFL Schedule release: Kansas City Chiefs to host Detroit Lions in Kickoff Game

The 2023 season will kick off with two of the most high-powered, entertaining offenses the NFL provides.

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will open their title defense against the Detroit Lions at 8:20 p.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 7 on NBC.

Patrick Mahomes and the NFL's league-leading offense spearheaded a dramatic Super Bowl victory last year, lifting their second Lombardi Trophy in four seasons. They'll attempt to become the first club since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

The road starts with a matchup against the upstart Lions.

Despite yet another offseason overhaul at the receiver position, the Chiefs are expected to remain a force. After trading Tyreek Hill last year, K.C. led the NFL in scoring with 29.2 points per game. This time around, leading receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman departed. Yet, we don't expect the Chiefs to miss a beat with Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and second-round rookie Rashee Rice in line for sizable workloads. Oh, and don't forget: Star tight end Travis Kelce remains the go-to target and could feast on opening night.

A young Chiefs defense surged down the stretch thanks to the growth of its rookie corners. They'll be tested off the bat by Ben Johnson's creative Lions attack in Week 1, but if they continue their developmental track, it should be a good showdown. The Chiefs still have Chris Jones bulldozing through the middle of the offensive line and added first-round pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah to last season's first-rounder George Karlaftis on the edge.

This K.C. team, led by the best quarterback on the planet, is built for the long haul.

Detroit is an interesting selection to open the season in prime time, especially with options like Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Miami and the L.A. Chargers available. In choosing the Lions, the league office is putting massive faith in Detroit -- more than they've ever shown.

Since the inception of the Kickoff Game in 2002, the Lions haven't sniffed consideration in the NFL's showcase opener. Rightfully so. In two decades, there's been little shine from the Lions.

That's all turned under head coach Dan Campbell.

Now the Lions are the 2023 offseason darling, projected by many as the best team in the NFC North. With Jared Goff guiding an entertaining offense, Detroit put up the fifth-most points (26.6) last season. Amon-Ra St. Brown is an ascending receiver, and the Lions added running backs David Montgomery and first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs to the mix in the offseason.

Detroit revamped its secondary, adding corners Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley and the multifaceted C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Facing Mahomes and Kelce in Week 1 will put Aaron Glenn's crew to the test off the bat.

In picking Detroit to kick off the season in K.C., schedule-makers could be looking for a shootout to showcase. Since Mahomes took over as the starter in 2018, Andy Reid's club has averaged 39.4 points per game in five season-openers. Detroit, meanwhile, offers one of the more creative offenses in the league under Johnson's guidance.

There is a risk in putting the Lions in the opener. Detroit hasn't started seasons out well under Campbell. The Lions began the 2022 season 1-6 and 2021 0-10-1. But after the Lions won eight of 10 games to close last season, including a thrilling Week 18 game in Green Bay in prime time, the NFL's betting Mahomes won't turn things into a blowout.

The Lions entered the offseason with a load of excitement coming off their near playoff run. Placing Campbell's squad in the season-opener against the Super Bowl champs is the NFL's way of saying they believe the hype.

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