International affair: Detroit Lions might play Kansas City Chiefs in Germany in 2023

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions have not played an international game in nearly a decade. If that streak ends this fall, they will face one of the marquee teams on their 2023 schedule in Germany.

The NFL announced “home” teams for its five international games in 2023, and the only one on the Lions’ schedule is the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs will play a game in Germany against an opponent to-be-determined later this spring. The New England Patriots (in Germany) and Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills (all in London) also will host international games next season.

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The Lions have not played an international game since 2015, when they lost to the Chiefs, 45-10, in a Chiefs home game played in London. They were scheduled to play the Jaguars in London in 2020, when the NFL canceled its international games due to COVID-19.

Under the 17-game schedule, the NFL alternates host teams for most international games between AFC and NFC teams, with four teams from the conference playing nine home games in a season — the AFC in 2023 — designated to host a neutral-site game every year.

Every NFL team will give up one home date during the current eight-year scheduling cycle.

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The Chiefs, one of the NFL’s biggest draws with presumptive league MVP Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, have several appealing home games on their schedule next season. Along with division matchups against the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City hosts the Lions, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears.

The Broncos beat the Jaguars in London this season, the Dolphins played a game in London in 2021 and the Bills are scheduled to play overseas against a different opponent this fall.

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While that would seem to leave the Lions on the short list of potential international opponents for Kansas City this fall, if the NFL were to move the Lions-Chiefs game to Germany, the Lions could go 28 years between games in Kansas City.

They have not played at Arrowhead Stadium since Dec. 14, 2003. Under the NFL’s current scheduling formula, they are not slated to return to Kansas City until 2031.

The Lions last played the Chiefs in 2019 at Ford Field, losing in the final minute, 34-30, to the eventual Super Bowl LIV champions.

All five international games this season were intraconference games.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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