The Kansas City Chiefs are your Super Bowl champions once again after beating the San Francisco 49ers in overtime 25-22. Kansas City became the NFL’s first repeat champion since the New England Patriots in 2003-04, and the Chiefs are now poised to attempt a three-peat. Travis Kelce and Andy Reid apparently willso the Chiefs have a real chance.
The road to a three-peat begins in Week 1, where the Chiefs will host their season opener for the second year in a row. Who could the Chiefs face first next season? Which teams are on the table and who would be the best opponent? Let’s rank the Chiefs’ eight local opponents that could come to Arrowhead in September.
The 9-8 Saints missed the playoffs in 2023, and new quarterback Derek Carr didn’t exactly endear himself to the Saints faithful in his first season. New Orleans has talented weapons like Chris Olave and Alvin Kamara, and a decent defense led by Dennis Allen. But scheduling the Saints in Week 1 wouldn’t be a sexy move.
The Bucs surprised a lot of people in 2023 by winning the NFC South with a 9-8 record and then upsetting the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in Super Wild Card Weekend. Baker Mayfield had a career year with Mike Evans, and both players have said they want to return to Tampa Bay in 2024. The Bucs lost Dave Canales but gained an interesting offensive coordinator in Liam Coen, so the offense should be a little different. Mayfield is a fun player who could be even more comfortable in Year 2 with the Bucs.
The Broncos ended a 16-game losing streak against the Chiefs last October, but Denver fans would like to ignore the fact that Mahomes was suffering from the flu less than 24 hours before kickoff. Opening your season against a division opponent adds some intrigue, but we don’t know who the Broncos’ quarterback will be.
Another spot of revenge against a divisional opponent. The Raiders, of course, beat the Chiefs in Kansas City on Christmas Day behind Antonio Pierce’s stout defense. There’s optimism in Vegas now, and it’s always fun to see Maxx Crosby chasing Mahomes down the field, but this is another situation where we don’t know who the starting quarterback will be.
Welcome to the NFL, Jim Harbaugh. The Chargers always seem to be one of those teams that gets hype during the offseason and can’t live up to it, but with Harbaugh taking over in place of Brandon Staley, you need to keep an eye on them.
Justin Herbert’s offenses averaged 24.4 points per game, the second-most points per game average for a quarterback with a losing record since 1950. Herbert has been disappointed with his defense since his entry into the league. He recorded the most completions (1,613) and passing yards (17,223) in a player’s first four seasons in NFL history, and also tied Mahomes for second most passing touchdowns (114) in his first four seasons. With Harbaugh now the head coach, we could open a new chapter in this prime-time rivalry in Week 1.
The first meeting between Mahomes and CJ Stroud. This may be a budding rivalry between the AFC and one we will see often in the years to come. The Offensive Rookie of the Year became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game last season and led the league in passing yards per game (273.9) and TD-INT ratio. Only two other quarterbacks have done this in the last 50 seasons! Stroud immediately found success with weapons like Nico Collins and Tank Dell, and DeMeco Ryans improved the defense. Houston has allowed the sixth fewest rushing yards per game in 2023 after the Texans ranked last in that category in 2022.
The Texans were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2023. Instead, the front office crashed the draft with NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, resulting in gave the Texans the division and a playoff victory. Maybe they will be contenders in 2024.
What a way to welcome Joe Burrow back to the field after his 2023 season-ending wrist injury. Let’s send him straight to Arrowhead to face their main AFC rival in Mahomes. Burrow is actually 2-0 against Mahomes in the regular season and 1-1 against him in the playoffs. The Chiefs-Bengals rivalry has been entertaining to say the least. Kicking off the 2024 season with this game would be a fun idea.
The most intriguing game of week one for the Chiefs would undoubtedly be the Ravens – the team the Chiefs upset in the AFC Championship Game. Lamar Jackson won MVP this season, but that award couldn’t have been as sweet to receive considering his offense fell flat against the Chiefs defense, which held the Ravens to a game-high 81 yards on the floor and the lowest time of possession (22). :30) in Jackson’s career.
The Ravens were probably the best team in the NFL this past regular season. They became the first franchise to lead/co-lead the league in scoring defense, sacks and takeaways, while OC Todd Monken returned Jackson to MVP form in his first year as offensive coordinator. This is the season opener the NFL world has been hoping for.