When a team wins a Super Bowl, a lot of the analysis and processing has to do with the game that was just played, and its ramifications on various legacies. The aftermath of Sunday's Kansas City win over San Francisco in Super Bowl LVIII was flush with talk of legacies, dynasties, and, let's face it, Taylor Swift.
Once the dust settles, though, there are other ripple effects from the Chiefs' win over the Niners, and one of those is the impact on the 2024 schedule. The new tradition in the NFL is for the winner of the Super Bowl to host the season opener on the first Thursday night of the regular season. Last season, the Chiefs hosted the Detroit Lions, and back in 2020, after their 2019 Super Bowl win, they hosted the Houston Texans in what ended up being step one in firing Bill O'Brien a month later.
Since that 2020 season opener, the Chiefs have been the best team in football. The Texans have been the exact opposite, until this past season, in which the Texans reasserted control over the AFC South. Now, with the Texans slated to be one of the Chiefs opponents at Arrowhead Stadium this coming season, could we see a repeat of 2020, and see the Texans open the season in Kansas City in prime time?
It sounds sexy enough, right? Patrick Mahomes versus C.J. Stroud in prime time? Sure! But let's see what the completion looks like. Here are the Chiefs' eight home opponents this season:
AFC WEST OPPONENTS: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders
AFC CROSSOVER DIVISION (AFC North) OPPONENTS: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals
NFC CROSSOVER DIVISION (NFC South) OPPONENTS: New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
AFC CORRESPONDING STANDINGS OPPONENT: Houston Texans
So where do the Texans rank in terms of cachet in this ensemble of eight teams? Let's get the obvious ones out of the way. There is zero chance that the Chiefs open the season on Thursday night against the Saints, Buccaneers, or Raiders. I would put Denver at a near zero chance. So that leaves us with these four teams, and I'll rank them in order of likelihood:
4. Los Angeles Chargers
This is the one division game that makes sense. Patrick Mahomes versus Justin Herbert is a fun quarterback matchup, and the debut of Jim Harbaugh as the Chargers' head coach is absolutely a big national story.
3. Houston Texans
Could the Texans head back to Arrowhead for a Thursday night opener with C.J. Stroud and DeMeco Ryans four years after doing it with Deshaun Watson and Bill O'Brien? The Texans head into the offseason with that kind of buzz, for sure. There was no bigger star on Radio Row at the Super Bowl last week than Stroud.
2. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are kind of the forgotten team in the AFC, as they lost Joe Burrow to injury ten games into the season. In Burrow's two fully healthy seasons in the NFL thus far, he has faced the Chiefs in the postseason, going 1-1 in those two games, and having performed well enough there to where people called Arrowhead Stadium "Burrowhead." Them's fighting words!
1. Baltimore Ravens
A rematch of the AFC title game. The Super Bowl MVP versus the regular season MVP. Andy Reid versus his pupil John Harbaugh. This would be my bet.
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