Who will Chiefs play to kick off 2024 season? Ranking the eight potential matchups for NFL champions

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The Kansas City Chiefs are once again your Super Bowl champions after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in overtime 25-22. Kansas City became the NFL’s first repeat champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots, and the Chiefs are now set up to attempt a three-peat. Both Travis Kelce and Andy Reid will apparently be back in 2024, so the Chiefs have a real shot.

The road to a three-peat begins in Week 1, where the Chiefs will host their season opener for the second straight year. 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 home opponents that could make the trip 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 some talented weapons like Chris Olave and Alvin Kamara, and a decent defense led by Dennis Allen. But scheduling the Saints in Week 1 would not be a sexy decision. 

The Bucs surprised many people in 2023 by winning the NFC South with a 9-8 record, and then upsetting the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in Super Wild Card Weekend. Baker Mayfield had a career year working 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 look a bit different. Mayfield is a fun gamer who could be even more comfortable in Year 2 with the Bucs. 

The Broncos snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Chiefs last October, but fans in Denver would like to ignore the fact that Mahomes was dealing with the flu less than 24 hours before kickoff. Opening up your season against a divisional opponent does add some intrigue, but we don’t know who the Broncos quarterback will be. 

Another revenge spot against a divisional opponent. The Raiders, of course, defeated the Chiefs in Kansas City on Christmas Day behind Antonio Pierce’s stout defense. There’s now optimism in Vegas, and it’s always fun to watch Maxx Crosby chase Mahomes around the field, but this is another situation where we don’t know who the starting quarterback will be. 

Welcome back to the NFL, Jim Harbaugh. The Chargers are always seemingly one of those teams that receives hype in the offseason they can’t live up to, but with Harbaugh calling the shots instead of Brandon Staley, you have to keep an eye on them. 

Justin Herbert’s offenses have averaged 24.4 points per game, which are the second-most points per game averaged by a quarterback with a losing record since 1950. Herbert has been let down by his defense ever since he entered the league. He’s registered the most passing completions (1,613) and passing yards (17,223) in a player’s first four seasons in NFL history, and tied Mahomes for the second-most passing touchdowns (114) in his first four seasons as well. With Harbaugh now the head coach, we could start the new chapter of this rivalry in prime time in Week 1. 

The first meeting between Mahomes and C.J. Stroud. Maybe this is a budding AFC rivalry we will see plenty of in the years to come. The Offensive Rookie of the Year became the youngest quarterback to ever win a playoff game this past season, and led the league in passing yards per game (273.9) and TD-INT ratio. Only two other quarterbacks have done that over the last 50 seasons! Stroud found success with weapons like Nico Collins and Tank Dell immediately, plus DeMeco Ryans improved the defense. Houston allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game in 2023 after the Texans ranked dead 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 crushed the draft with the NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, leading to the Texans winning the division and a postseason victory. Maybe they are a contender in 2024. 

What a way to welcome Joe Burrow back to the field following his 2023 season-ending wrist injury. Let’s send him straight to Arrowhead to face off against his chief AFC rival in Mahomes. Burrow is actually 2-0 vs. Mahomes in the regular season, and 1-1 vs. him in the postseason. The Chiefs-Bengals rivalry has been entertaining to say the least. Kicking off the 2024 season with this matchup would be a fun idea. 

The most fascinating Week 1 matchup 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 felt as good to receive considering that his offense fell flat against the Chiefs defense, which held the Ravens to a season-low 81 rushing yards 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 ever 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 is hoping for. 

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