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Which game should kick off the 2024 NFL season? Ravens-Chiefs among top options

The 2024 NFL Draft is in hindsight. Now we turn our attention to the 2024 NFL regular-season schedule, which will be unveiled later this month.

Presuming the NFL sticks with the tradition of having the previous season's Super Bowl winner host the NFL Kickoff Game, we can once again expect the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs to be the home team for the first contest of the year. And we know Kansas City's home opponents will be the Broncos, Chargers, Raiders, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Bucs and Saints. With this in mind, we asked our analysts to answer the following question:

Who would you most want to see the Chiefs play to open the 2024 NFL season?

Jeffri Chadiha

PICK: Baltimore Ravens

One of the popular beliefs coming out of last year’s AFC Championship Game was that the result came down to Baltimore blowing it instead of the Chiefs winning it. That makes for great theater in a rematch to start the season. Kansas City is chasing its third straight championship. The Ravens need to prove they didn’t waste their best chance to win a title in the Lamar Jackson era by melting down and relying on a bizarre offensive game plan. We obviously won’t know who’s going to win the AFC after one game. But we definitely would have a better sense of whether the Ravens actually can overtake the Chiefs as we move deeper into the season.

Marc Ross

PICK: Houston Texans

At this time last year, the Texans were just hoping to build on a promising draft haul. That was before a transcendent rookie season from quarterback C.J. Stroud and head coach DeMeco Ryans, who led Houston to the AFC South title and a playoff victory. The Texans have done a lot of great things this offseason, acquiring big-time talent such as Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs, and now their sights are set on dethroning the reigning champion. Stroud would get his chance right off the bat to go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes, the current NFL standard at the position. What better storyline than an up-and-coming team trying to take down the champs? I’m here for it.

Scott Pioli

PICK: Las Vegas Raiders

I’d love to see the Raiders visit the Chiefs for the season opener. It’s a historic rivalry and the last time these teams took the field together, the Silver and Black came out victorious, 20-14, on Christmas Day. Their bitterness has spilled over since the teams began playing each other in the AFL, when the Chiefs were known as the Dallas Texans. These contests are never short on surprises or intensity. Who can forget the 1969 AFL Championship or The Brawl from 1970 or the TWO brawls on Oct. 5, 1986? 

My personal experience with this rivalry takes me back to 2011, when I was general manager for the Chiefs. We had the chance to capture back-to-back AFC West titles and needed to win the final three games of the regular season. We won two games but fell to the Raiders on Christmas Eve, when Hall of Famer Richard Seymour blocked two field goals, the second of which came on the final play of regulation, as the Raiders went on to earn a 16-13 overtime victory. That stung!

The current Raiders are being built to reflect their new head coach Antonio Pierce, a tough and smart leader. As interim HC last season, Pierce stated prior to Christmas game against the Chiefs: “They’re creative, they have fun doing it. ... We saw the ‘Ring Around the Rosie’ deal they did last year. All fun and games, that’s cool.

“But at some point, the best way to stop a trick play is to do what? Hit it in the mouth.” 

Maurice Jones-Drew

PICK: Cincinnati Bengals

The only active AFC quarterback who’s been able to best Patrick Mahomes in the postseason is Joe Burrow. There’s been nothing quite like a Chiefs-Bengals clash when those two players are healthy and ballin’, and while a Thursday night in September won’t have the same oomph as one in January, there will be no shortage of superstars or highlight-reel plays. 

Judy Battista

PICK: Baltimore Ravens

A repeat of the AFC Championship Game would start us off right -- with a Patrick Mahomes/Lamar Jackson showcase. And maybe Derrick Henry will remind the Ravens to run the ball to give us an early look at how AFC supremacy might shake out in 2024. 

David Carr

PICK: Los Angeles Chargers

I know the Chargers are amid somewhat of a rebuild, but they just hired a national-title-winning coach in Jim Harbaugh, creating a new buzz around the team. This contest is more about the head coaches who are both coming off championships -- just at different levels -- than top-tier quarterback play. Regardless of the stages the team's rosters are in, this is sure to be a competitive game full of fireworks.

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