Report: Detroit Lions to face Kansas City Chiefs in NFL Thursday night kickoff game

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions won’t have to wait long to find out if they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2023.

The Lions will play the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL’s Thursday night season opener Sept. 7 at Arrowhead Stadium, reported.

The Chiefs beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII and will be aiming for their fourth Super Bowl trip in five years this fall. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is coming off his second MVP season, and the Chiefs have reached double-digit victories in eight straight years.

Historically, the defending NFL champion has kicked off the season with a Thursday night game, but the primetime spot is new for the Lions.

NFL schedule 2023: Release date, Detroit Lions games, opponents

The Lions have never played in the kickoff game since its inception in 2002, and last year they were not scheduled for any primetime games before being flexed into a Sunday night game − the final game of the regular season − in Week 18.

The Lions finished 9-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year, but won eight of their final 10 games (including that season finale against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field) and will enter this fall as the favorites to win the NFC North.

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One of the youngest teams in the NFL last season, the Lions revamped their secondary in free agency and added three potential Day 1 starters in the draft to a talented returning nucleus on both sides of the ball.

Both Lions coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes have embraced the lofty expectations surrounding their team, with Holmes saying after the draft he believes the Lions have the talent to win a playoff game for the first time since the 1991 season.

“I (was asked at the combine) what’s the goal of the offseason, and I just said, ‘Look, we don’t want to take a step back,'” Holmes said last month. “We don’t want to stay stagnant, and we appreciate and we are extremely proud of the success that we had last year, but we didn’t make the playoffs. We didn’t make the playoffs and that’s not good enough. So we got to get to the point as a football team where we can put ourselves in a position where we could get in the postseason and hopefully make some noise.”

The Lions will make plenty of noise if they can win their opener against a team long considered one of the gold standards in the NFL, and at a venue that has been murderous on road teams in recent years.

The Chiefs are 14-3 in home games the past two seasons, and Mahomes has won 16 straight regular season games against NFC opponents. Kansas City has not lost an opener since 2014, Mahomes’ true freshman season at Texas Tech.

The Lions have not won their season opener in 2017, when they beat the Arizona Cardinals, 35-23, at Ford Field. They have not won at Arrowhead Stadium since 1988.

After unveiling select holiday, primetime and international games over the past 24 hours, the NFL will release full schedules for all 32 teams at 8 p.m. tonight.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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