Lions at Chiefs – 5 things to watch

The 2023 NFL schedule will begin with an interconference game between the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs, the current Super Bowl champions, on Thursday Night Football on NBC in Kansas City.

It’s the first step in what the Chiefs believe would be a return trip to the Super Bowl and back-to-back victories. The Lions have the opportunity to demonstrate that the recent excitement surrounding them is justified and that they are prepared to compete in the NFC playoff picture.

Five things to watch out for in tonight’s game include the following:


Against the league’s #1 passing offense from the previous season and the reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Cam Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Brian Branch all make their Lions debuts tonight.

Sutton, Gardner-Johnson, and Branch are now joined by Kerby Joseph and Jerry Jacobs in what appears to be a secondary that has improved significantly in terms of its capacity to cover, grab footballs, and force turnovers. Any member of the Detroit offense will tell you how much harder it was during camp to move the ball in the air against this Detroit secondary than it had been in previous seasons.

This one will undoubtedly put the secondary to the test. Since being appointed the starter in Kansas City, Mahomes has started five of his career Week 1 games and has completed 121 of 169 passes for 1,542 yards, 18 touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a passer rating of 133.9. In Week 1 games throughout NFL history, it’s the most touchdown throws without an interception.


David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs have completely replaced D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams in Detroit’s backfield. With Montgomery and Gibbs carrying the load, the Lions believe they have a chance to be even more dynamic than they were last season, when they rushed for more over 2,000 yards and scored 23 running touchdowns.

It will be intriguing to see how offensive coordinator Ben Johnson uses both backs in his scheme as Montgomery and Gibbs are anticipated to have a significant impact in the passing game.

According to Johnson, “I believe they are both very adaptable, so we might use Gibbs in some ways that people don’t quite think we might use Gibbs or Montgomery in the same way.” We’re going to use them everywhere, but I’m extremely interested to see what they can achieve this week on the field here.


Running behind arguably one of the NFL’s top offensive lines, which will have all five of its star players available for the first time in two seasons, will be advantageous for Montgomery and Gibbs.

For the first time in a regular season game, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Penei Sewell are anticipated to line up together, which is kind of amazing to think about given how strong Detroit’s offensive line has been the previous two seasons. Watching should be entertaining.

Chris Jones, an All-Pro defensive tackle, won’t likely play for the Chiefs. He’s still refusing to sign a contract, thus he’s anticipated to miss tonight’s game. Kansas City is bringing in some new players tonight after experiencing a lot of turnover along their defensive front. The offensive line in Detroit has the advantage up front on paper. With their play-action pass game and run game, can those men help Detroit control the tempo offensively?


One of the most recognizable and reputedly loudest venues in the NFL is GEHA Field at Arrowhead. It goes without saying that Chiefs supporters will be fired up for a Thursday night home game that will be nationally televised to open the season on the same night they will hoist the banner for their 2022 Super Bowl victory.

Players for the Lions who haven’t played at Arrowhead, like quarterback Jared Goff, are eager for the chance but aware of the difficulties the setting will present.

How well can the Lions’ offense maintain its quiet counts and keep everyone in sync? Week 1 is a significant test for that aspect of the operation.


Since the time of Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell, Detroit’s defensive line has had more talent and depth than ever before. Throughout training camp, we witnessed and heard about the enormous strides forward that players like Alim McNeill and Aidan Hutchinson have made.

What effect would Charles Harris having a healthy body have opposite Hutchinson at the SAM linebacker position? With eight sacks in his first seven games played last season, will James Houston continue where he left off? Levi Onwuzurike had a very successful camp despite missing the entirety of the previous season due to a back issue. Can he have the kind of effect that the Lions anticipated for when they selected him in the 2021 second round? What is Josh Paschal capable of in Year 2?

The Chiefs believe this is the greatest offensive line they have put together in front of Mahomes, despite the addition of two new tackles in Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith. Can Detroit successfully combine their rush and cover to make things challenging for Mahomes? It might be crucial to Detroit’s success.

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