Chiefs begin defense of Super Bowl title with Lions visiting for Thursday night NFL opener

DETROIT (9-8) at KANSAS CITY (17-3)

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EDT, NBC


SERIES RECORD: Chiefs lead 9-5.

LAST MEETING: Chiefs beat Lions 34-30 on Sept. 29, 2019, in Detroit.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Lions plus-7; Chiefs minus-3.

LIONS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is one of three players in NFL history with at least 90 catches in each of his first two seasons and the only Detroit player with at least 900 yards receiving in each of them. St. Brown will be going against a young Kansas City pass defense that could struggle unless the defensive front generates some pass rush.

CHIEFS PLAYER TO WATCH: The easy choice is QB Patrick Mahomes, who is coming off his second straight league MVP award. He threw for a franchise-record 5,250 yards last season while leading the NFL with 41 touchdown passes against just six interceptions. But off-the-radar picks are WRs Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross, who will be making their regular-season debuts and will be counted upon to pick up the slack for JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman.

KEY MATCHUP: Lions DL Aidan Hutchinson and LB James Houston against Chiefs OTs Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith. Hutchinson and Houston were the first Detroit rookies to have at least eight sacks apiece last season. They’ll be going against two new, albeit veteran, offensive tackles that Kansas City brought in to replace Andrew Wylie and Orlando Brown Jr.

KEY INJURIES: Lions CB Emmanuel Moseley (knee) recently returned to practice after spending training camp on the PUP list. It is unclear whether he will be active Thursday night. … All-Pro TE Travis Kelce could miss the game for Kansas City after hyperextending his knee in practice on Tuesday. WR Kadarius Toney (knee), CB L’Jarius Sneed (knee) and DT Turk Wharton (knee) are expected to play after each missed significant portions of training camp.

SERIES NOTES: The Chiefs have won two straight and six of their past eight against Detroit. The Lions have not beaten Kansas City since a 48-3 rout on Sept. 18, 2011, and their most recent win at Arrowhead Stadium was on Oct. 23, 1988.

STATS AND STUFF: The Lions are opening against the defending Super Bowl champions for the second time. They tied the Packers to open the 1967 season. … Detroit finished with a winning record for the first time since 2017 last season and fell just short of its first postseason appearance since 2016. … The Lions have not won a division title since 1993, when they played in the NFC Central. … The franchise has one playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL title, and that was on Jan. 5, 1992. … Lions QB Jared Goff and Mahomes last met on Nov. 19, 2018, when his Rams beat the Chiefs 54-51 in the third-highest scoring game in NFL history. … Goff is riding a streak of nine starts and 324 passes without an interception. Both are the longest in Detroit history. … Detroit had the fewest turnovers in the NFL with 15 last season. … The Lions’ David Montgomery is one of six RBs to eclipse 1,000 yards from scrimmage with six touchdowns each of the past four seasons. … Hutchinson finished with 9 1/2 sacks, the most among NFL rookies. Houston was second with eight and the Chiefs’ George Karlaftis third with six. …. The Chiefs have won seven consecutive AFC West titles and hosted the past five AFC championship games. … Kansas City is 9-1 under Andy Reid in season openers. That includes the past eight, five of which came with Mahomes as the quarterback. … Reid can tie Tom Landry for third on the career wins list with his 270th. … Mahomes has thrown 18 touchdown passes without an interception in openers. … Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce have 46 touchdown connections. They need five more to tie Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham for third in NFL history. … Kelce has caught a pass in 143 straight games, the longest streak in franchise history. He needs five TD catches to pass Tony Gonzalez (76) for second in club history. … RB Jerick McKinnon has scored in six straight games, and would tie Dwayne Bowe for the longest in Chiefs history with one Thursday night. … Kansas City allowed 26 sacks last season, the third fewest in the NFL. … The Chiefs led the NFL with 7,032 yards of offense and 61 touchdowns last season. Detroit was third in yards with 6,460 and fourth in TDs with 54.

FANTASY TIP: The Chiefs appear unlikely to have DT Chris Jones amid his holdout. With little pass rush and a young secondary, Goff and the rest of Detroit’s playmakers on offense could have a big day at Arrowhead Stadium.



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