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NFL’s vice president of broadcast explains why Lions were choice for Chiefs’ season opener

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons preview the first game of the 2023 NFL season between the Lions, who have everything to prove, and the Chiefs, who are coming off a Super Bowl win, on NBC.

Besides their three division opponents, the Chiefs play attractive home games against the Bills, Bengals, Dolphins and Eagles. Yet, they open the NFL’s season with a game against the Lions, the league announced Thursday.

That came as a surprise to many.

NFL vice president of broadcast Onnie Bose said on The Dan Patrick Show that the season-opening game in Kansas City was one of the games “we probably had our most passionate discussion about.”

“They have great home opponents this year,” Bose told Patrick, via Charles Goldman of USA Today. “We could have gone out with a Super Bowl rematch. We could have played Cincinnati, the [AFC] championship rematch. We could have played Buffalo. Any one of those games would have gotten blockbuster numbers. We considered all of them. They’ve got great divisional matchups. The AFC West always matters. The Chargers play great primetime games against the Chiefs. So we left ourselves open-minded.

“There are years where we say, ‘This is the one game we’re going to play on kickoff. This year, we kind of said, ‘There are a lot of games that we’ve got to consider.’ And as we went through the process, the Lions were one of those teams that we left in there. And we really like the narrative around that time, the culture that they’re building there. The way they finished their season, eight wins out of their last nine of 10 games. The last time we saw them on national television was the last game, game 272 of the regular season, and they were beating the Packers in Lambeau to keep Aaron Rodgers out of the playoffs. We really like that. There is a lot of energy there and we feel really good about starting the season with that energy against the Super Bowl champs.”

The bottom line: The stand-alone game to open the season on Super Bowl LVII banner night, with MVP Patrick Mahomes, is going to draw big ratings regardless the opponent.

“A couple of things to factor in there,” Bose said. “One, when you start with the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes — any Super Bowl champion is going to be attractive — but when you’ve got them in there, you’re going to have a high amount of attention, and it’s going to get a lot of viewership. He is kind of our gold standard at this point of the individual player that people are going to tune in to watch.”