After an almost six-month break, trades galore and an off-season full of drama, the National Football League (NFL) is back for season No. 104.
As is now customary, the annual curtain raiser sees the Super Bowl champions kick off the football season and, this year, the Kansas City Chiefs play host to the Detroit Lions in the season opener.
With Patrick Mahomes and Co. returning to Missouri as champions, the atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium will be electric as the Chiefs look to be the first team to run it back since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.
How to watch
The NFL season begins on Thursday, September 7 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The game is set to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET.
The season opener will be shown on NBC and Peacock in the US.
Fans outside of the US can also follow the action via the NFL’s Game Pass on DAZN.
How the teams fared last season
The Kansas City Chiefs enjoyed a season to remember in 2022/23.
Led by superstar quarterback Mahomes, the Chiefs boasted the joint-best record in the NFL after going 14-3 in the regular season.
Kansas City then beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals to earn a spot in Super Bowl LVII, where it beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35, in a thrilling classic.
The Detroit Lions showed glimpses of promise in what was overall an underwhelming season compared to their counterparts on Thursday, finishing the 2022 campaign with a 9-8 record and second place in the National Football Conference (NFC) North division.
The Lions did not advance to the playoffs and will be looking to go better this time around.
What to look out for?
MVP Patrick Mahomes
The opening game of the season will see reigning NFL MVP Mahomes put on a show in front of his home crowd.
The 27-year-old helped end Kansas City’s 50-year wait for an NFL championship in 2020 and he has since become an icon in the city for his performances for the Chiefs.
Following the Super Bowl LIV win against the San Francisco 49ers, Mahomes led the Chiefs to a second title in four years last season after winning an entertaining, incredibly high-scoring game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mahomes took on Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in an offensive battle for the ages and the veteran came out on top against the new kid on the block.
The Chiefs ended up winning the duel 38-35 in the third-highest scoring Super Bowl of all time as Mahomes wowed again with his wide-ranging armory on offense, despite an ankle injury hampering his movement.
As a result of clutch performances like these, the two-time MVP has become the face of the league in recent years and at times looks like he is playing a different game compared to the rest of those on the field.
Mahomes will be looking to have another sensational year as he heads into the new season, leading the Chiefs to what he hopes will be another Super Bowl victory.
Will Travis Kelce feature?
A cloud is already hanging over the Chiefs’ opener – and potentially even longer – with Tuesday’s news of tight end Travis Kelce’s injury.
“Kelce hyperextended his knee today,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid told reporters after practice. “We’ll just see how he does going forward.”
While the star TE’s availability for Thursday’s opener is still in doubt, there is better news for Chiefs fans as, per NFL insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, the injury does not look to be a long-term problem.
Young cubs becoming Lions
The Lions have some exciting talent on their roster and none more so than Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahmyr Gibbs.
St. Brown is a supremely talented wide receiver and is widely tipped to have a standout season in Detroit after a breakout year last time round. The 23-year-old will look to get his campaign off to a good start in a tough setting.
Running back Gibbs was selected with the No. 12 pick in the 2023 draft and is anticipated to be a problem for opposition defenses.
The 21-year-old may be smaller in stature, but this almost goes unnoticed when he steps on the field with his lightning speed a serious threat. Making his NFL debut, he will look to lay down a marker for the rest of the league to pay attention to.
Whatever happens on Thursday night, fans around the world will be ecstatic at the return of America’s biggest sport.