Why the Chargers will likely play in the first game of the 2024 season

Chiefs and Chargers could play the first game of the 2024 NFL season, as the league traditionally kickoffs with an eye-catching game featuring the reigning Super Bowl champions. Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert put on a show when facing each other.
Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The LA Chargers will not know their schedule until mid-May, even if the team already knows who it is playing next season. However, Super Bowl LVIII may have been very revealing on who the Chargers will play first.

The Kansas City Chiefs were crowned back-to-back Super Bowl champions after beating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime of Super Bowl LVIII. It is the third championship in five years for Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, and they are on the verge of reaching a Brady-Bellichick-type-of-dynasty. It is also Mahomes' third Super Bowl MVP, making his legacy even greater.

As Super Bowl LVIII champions, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the first game of the 2024 NFL season. The defending champions often open the season at home, barring extracurricular circumstances.

In 2013, the Baltimore Ravens had parking issues with the MLB's Baltimore Orioles, so they played their first game at Denver. The only other time in recent history the defending champions didn't open the season at home in the first game was 2019. In honor of the NFL's 100 anniversary, the league highlighted the Packers-Bears rivalry instead of showcasing the defending champions New England Patriots.

The NFL traditionally schedules a deeply meaningful or high-quality game to be the season opener on Thursday night. For example, the Denver Broncos faced the Carolina Panthers in the first game of the 2016 season in what was a Super Bowl 50 rematch. Also, the reigning champions Kansas City Chiefs faced the much-hyped Detroit Lions in last September's season starter.

With all this in mind, we can narrow down the list of teams that the Chiefs might play to start the 2024 season. The Chargers, being a division rival, are one of those teams.

Why the Chiefs could play the Chargers in the first game of 2024

Every time the Chargers and Chiesf face each other they put on great games, like when the Bolts won in Arrowhead in Week 3 of the 2021 season. Both teams have elite quarterbacks, and Justin Herbert wants to get to the next level to compete against the Chiefs and their dynasty.

However, head coach Jim Harbaugh's hiring is the main reason why the Chargers might play in the season's opener. A Chargers-Chiefs Week 1 matchup would be the reigning Super Bowl-winning head coach vs the reigning National Championship-winning head coach. It writes itself.

Chargers fans expect Harbaugh to change the culture of the franchise as early as Week 1. Fans aren't the only ones that are excited about Harbaugh in LA, as the buzz around the new Chargers head coach has been palpable.

In the upcoming months, the NFL will listen to the Harbaugh buzz, and determine if makes sense to have the Chargers featured in the first game of the season. If not, there are other potential suitors for that first game.

The Chiefs could also play these teams in the first game of 2024:

There are several other teams that can make a strong case to play the Chiefs in Week 1. The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans are all scheduled to play the Chiefs at Arrowhead.

The Ravens game is perhaps the favorite among them all– even the Chargers one. Not only would reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson battle Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, but it would also be this year's AFC Championship Game rematch.

The Bengals game is also significant. Both teams met in the AFC Championship games in 2022 and 2023 – each winning once – and Joe Burrow wants to show he can beat Mahomes again. Finally, we would have a Stroud-Mahomes showdown if the Texans go to Arrowhead in Week 1. However, that match-up is the least likely, given that they do not have a strong rivalry either in the regular season or the playoffs.

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