Is this cause for concern or a minor blip on their way to glory again?
The Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning overlords of NFL success lost their opening game of the 2023 season to the Detroit Lions.
In three recent seasons that they’ve made the Super Bowl or won it, (2019, 2020, and 2022) they’ve never lost on opening day. Making for an unwanted signal in 2023. Granted, they’ve lost in their Super Bowl-winning seasons across the regular season – but how important is it to start well? Getting that winning feeling straight off the block sets up a winning mentality. They’ve now got to carry that weight of not winning into week two, something they’re unaccustomed to.
While it’s very easy to read the headline and scorecard, then say that the Chiefs lost and they are terrible. That’s simply not the case. The franchises haven’t simply crumbled into mediocrity since February. The proof is that the Chiefs lost by a single point only and at sections, dominated the game. Those looking for positive signs need only dissect the second-quarter dominance. 14-0. On another day this quarter could have decided the game by itself. Lions’ Jared Goff wasn’t necessarily much better than Patrick Mahomes on the day, arguably his work just paid off more.
There is an argument to be had that if Travis Kelce was on the field during the season opener, the Chiefs could have won. He’s not just a tight end. He’s a team leader. If Mahomes is out of sight, the other players look to Kelce for inspiration, or they look at him regardless. He commands respect, and responsibility and drives success. He’s dating Taylor Swift too. Hopefully, the pop star isn’t too much of a distraction from his career. Some slightly lewd outlets are calling it the best catch of his career. Whether or not she gets a special AAA pass to Arrowhead Stadium, fans will be hoping she has something to cheer for as the team needs Kelce to succeed.
Offensive coordinators might not be the totality of a successful era for a franchise but it certainly helps to have a good one. Eric Bieniemy was indeed a good one. He worked for the Chiefs in said role throughout their dominant phase, earning himself two Super Bowl wins along the way. He’s now gone to work for the Washington Commanders in a role that combines offensive coordinator and assistant head coach duties. Oh, and they won their first game. Was he the true winning component over Mahomes and Andy Reid? Matt Nagy is the new man in the OC position and he’s already being called out for questionable decisions.
Despite the official NFL rankings still putting the Chiefs above the Lions, this result shows that the Lions are here to at least challenge for postseason football. The world has changed a fair bit since 2016 – and that’s the last time since the Ford Field faithful were rewarded with participation in the playoffs. Jahmyr Gibbs, the rookie running back was imperious on his debut. Tight end Sam LaPorta and defensive back Brian Branch also impressed, as this new look Lions could be able to get the franchise back to the 2016 standard and beyond.