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The Fallout of Thursday Night’s Opening Night NFL Game

Cam looks at how the NFL season will shake-up following Thursday night’s opening game between the Lions and Chiefs.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 07: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions celebrates their 21-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 07, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

As the NFL enters Week 1 of the season, the biggest headline heading into Sunday’s games is what has already happened in Thursday’s game. If the remaining 271 games are anything like opening night, it should make for a fairly entertaining season, albeit a sloppy one.

Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs were without All-Pro TE Travis Kelce due to a knee injury, and All-Pro DT Chris Jones due to a contract dispute, but they should have won this game. 

Despite choppy and uneven play in the first half, the Chiefs entered halftime with a 14-7 lead, thanks mainly…of course, to Patrick Mahomes. And it didn’t appear the loss of Kelce or Jones would matter. Not only did they have the seven point lead, they got the ball to begin the 3rd quarter, but were outscored 14-6 in the second half.

And at one point in the first half, Mahomes had seven completions to seven different receivers…he was distributing the ball, and finding the open man. The problem for Mahomes wasn’t finding open receivers to get the ball to, it was them not being able to hold onto the ball. He ended up only completing 53.8% of his passes.

WR Kadarius Toney had more drops than catches. He caught one pass all night for only one yard on five targets. He had three drops, with one falling into the arms of Detroit’s Brian Branch who ran it back for a TD. With the spector of sports gambling everywhere, a passing thought, (pardon the pun), had to cross Commissioner Goodell’s mind about the reason behind Toney’s drops…his performance was that glaring.

But it wasn’t just Toney, fellow WR Skyy Moore also had a case of the dropsies. All in all, it was a poor offensive performance. In short third and fourth down scenarios, they were awful, which actually carried over from last season. They refuse to QB sneak with Mahomes which has become problematic, which is ironic because Mahomes is an effective runner, as he led the team on Thursday with 45 rushing yards.

What this means for the NFL is that at least until Kelce comes back, the Chiefs are human and can be beaten. What it means for the AFC West is that the other three teams have a little more hope than they had entering Thursday. And what it means for the NFC North is that the Lions have put the rest of the division on notice that they are legit.

With the Raiders going to Denver to play the Broncos, one of those teams will lead the AFC coming out of Sunday, with a division victory under their belt. And the Chargers could be tied, playing the Dolphins at home. A win and they will also be atop the AFC West. Obviously, one game does not make for an entire season, but it should be enough to wake the defending champs up. 

For the Lions, the hype-train rolls on with more momentum than ever. They have sold out the entire season and have people on their waiting list to get season tickets. After Sunday, they know they will be in first place regardless of what happens, tied with either the Packers or Bears, who are playing each other in Chicago. And the rest of the league knows the Lions are real, and will be a tough matchup the rest of the way.

Although it didn’t come out of Cris Collinsworth’s or Mike Turico’s mouth, (shame on them for not saying it)…who knows, we may have watched a preview of the Super Bowl matchup this year.