Chiefs vs. Lions: Key matchups to watch for Week 1

Watch for these 3 matchups in the season opener between KC and Detroit.

Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions
Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions / Leon Halip/GettyImages
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The Kansas City Chiefs host the Detroit Lions for the NFL season opener. Thursday night features 2 teams with high expectations on display. Now that the offseason is officially in the rear-view mirror, we can focus on a few of the key matchups.

1. Chiefs Offensive Tackles vs Lions Edge Rushers

Aug 19, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (74) against
Aug 19, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (74) against / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs new-look offensive tackles are facing a tough edge rushing duo for the Detroit Lions. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and linebacker James Houston combined for 17.5 sacks last season. Chiefs left tackle Donovan Smith was signed as a free agent to replace Pro Bowler Orlando Brown Jr. Kansas City’s right tackle Jawaan Taylor was also signed via free agency. 

Smith doesn’t have the same level of individual accolades as his predecessor but he does have top-notch experience winning a Super Bowl protecting Tom Brady. Taylor is undoubtedly an upgrade talent-wise in comparison to the prior right tackle Andrew Wylie. They both looked the part in the preseason helping to provide Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes with time in the pocket. 

Both Hutchinson and Houston look to get after the quarterback. Hutchinson (9.5 sacks) was drafted 2nd overall in 2022 to be the premier defensive end for the Lions. Houston (8 sacks) was a 6th-round gem drafted in 2022 also. He is sudden, bendy, and electric off of the edge. Detroit can play Hutchinson and Houston on the left or right side which allows them to dictate certain matchups. 

- Although Smith and Taylor played admirably in the preseason, what happens when facing talented pass rushers for a full game? 
- How significant will the growing pains be for Kansas City’s offensive tackles in a new offense where the playbook is expanded and chemistry needs to be built?