Predicting the Chiefs’ Week 1 Opponent: Ranking 8 Candidates To Face Kansas City in 2024 Season Opener

Who will the Chiefs play to kick off the 2024 NFL season? We rank all eight candidates, including the Chargers, Bengals, Texans, and Ravens.

The NFL‘s 2024 schedule release is finally here — well, almost. The league will officially announce every game on the 2024 docket at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 15.

As the defending Super Bowl champions, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will host the 2024 season opener. Who should Andy Reid’s team face to kick off next season? Let’s rank all eight candidates.

Who Could the Chiefs’ Week 1 Opponent Be?

8) New Orleans Saints

The Saints have gone 25-26 over the past three seasons, straddling the line between competence and irrelevance. An offense led by Derek Carr, Alvin Kamara, and Chris Olave can win the NFC South, but this probably isn’t the Week 1 selection the NFL is looking for.

New Orleans didn’t add any exciting pieces or change coaches this offseason, so there’s little chance of Dennis Allen’s team facing the Chiefs to open the season.

7) Las Vegas Raiders

Sure, the Raiders beat the Chiefs in Week 16, while head coach Antonio Pierce hopes to institute a set of “Mahomes Rules” to take down Kansas City in 2024.

Las Vegas signed DT Christian Wilkins to help with that effort, then added do-it-al TE Brock Bowers in the 2024 NFL Draft. Still, the league won’t put a Gardner Minshew or Aidan O’Connell-led offense on the field for a season opener.

6) Denver Broncos

Like the Raiders, the Broncos offer divisional intrigue. Sean Payton might be a draw, while fans will want to tune in to see rookie quarterback Bo Nix make his first start against Mahomes.

But Denver’s preseason win total (5.5) is tied for the second-lowest in the NFL. The league wants a competitive game on opening night, not a blowout.

5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers won their third straight NFC South title in 2023, following it up with an upset victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round. Tampa Bay is going for it again, with Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans back on new contracts.

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A Tom Brady-less Super Bowl LV rematch wouldn’t be the worst choice, but the NFL has better Week 1 matchups at its fingertips.

4) Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Harbaugh’s NFL return is almost enough to make the Chargers interesting, and watching Justin Herbert square off against Mahomes is always a treat. But Los Angeles’ 5.5-win total matches Denver’s, so a Chargers vs. Chiefs game might be more exciting in theory than in practice. K.C. has beaten the Bolts in 17 of their last 20 tilts.

3) Baltimore Ravens

Realistically, the NFL is probably choosing between three potential opponents for the Chiefs’ season opener, with the Ravens undoubtedly being on that list after losing to Kansas City in January’s AFC Championship Game.

Baltimore lost talent over the offseason, but Lamar Jackson is fresh off his second MVP campaign, while Derrick Henry, Zay Flowers, and Mark Andrews represent a formidable offensive core.

The Ravens finished 13-3 in 2023 and were arguably the NFL’s best team heading into the postseason. Yet, their 17-10 title game loss to the Chiefs felt like such a dud that the NFL might want to go in another direction to kick off the 2024 campaign.

2) Cincinnati Bengals

While Jackson faced Mahomes in last year’s AFC Championship, Joe Burrow and the Bengals went up against the Chiefs in each of the previous two conference title games. Cincinnati defeated Kansas City in 2021-22 to earn a Super Bowl appearance, while the Chiefs edged out the Bengals in 2022-23.

Last November, Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury, but he’s throwing again and is expected to be ready for training camp. Getting stars like Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins on the field is what the season opener is all about.

1) Houston Texans

Jackson and Burrow are clearly worthwhile opponents for the Chiefs, but we’ve already seen those matchups. The NFL gave us an intriguing Lions-Chiefs game to start the 2023 campaign, and we’re projecting another up-and-coming club to face the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Texans looked like they’d become everyone’s favorite 2024 Super Bowl pick as soon as they were eliminated from the postseason in January. With C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. — the reigning Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, respectively — on their roster, Houston’s upside appeared uncapped.

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But the Texans didn’t stop there. Houston bolstered its offense with trades for WR Stefon Diggs and RB Joe Mixon, re-signed TE Dalton Schultz, then fortified DeMeco Ryan’s defense with EDGE Danielle Hunter, DT Denico Autry, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, and a bevy of other free agent signings.

Mahomes and Stroud could be competing for AFC titles for the next decade. Let’s put their first head-to-head matchup under the brightest possible lights.

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