Pros and Cons for Chiefs' Season Openers: Hosting Ravens and Bengals Without Rashee Rice?

The Kansas City Chiefs know they'll kick off their 2024 NFL season against two AFC rivals. Is that a blessing or a curse for KC?
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9), left, talks with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87).
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9), left, talks with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87). / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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The Kansas City Chiefs know that they'll begin the 2024 NFL season with fireworks. First, the Chiefs will host the Baltimore Ravens to kick off the year on September 5 in a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game. Then, the Chiefs host what may be the most high-octane rivalry in the NFL when the Cincinnati Bengals come to town in Week 2.

Opening up the year against the Ravens and Bengals means the race for the AFC's No. 1 overall seed (and the first-round bye that comes with it) will be heavily influenced in the first two weeks of the season. Is that a good thing or a bad thing for the Chiefs? It's complicated.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has a reputation as a mastermind with extra time to prepare for opponents. This year, KC will have the rest of the offseason to prep for Baltimore, then KC will have 10 days between their season-opener against the Ravens and their Week 2 showdown with Cincinnati, who will be on shorter rest. Plus, KC won't have to travel until at least Week 3. Add in relative presumed health (though Travis Kelce missed last year's season-opener due to an injury suffered in practice), and it seems like good news for the Chiefs.

On the other side of the coin, these matchups mean the Chiefs will have no runway to get up to speed for the '24 season, and they'll likely have to do it at least somewhat short-handed.

Nothing is official, but it certainly seems like wide receiver Rashee Rice will be suspended for some part of the season, likely knocking him out for at least these first two games. This means Kansas City will have to run their passing game through Kelce, first-year Chief Hollywood Brown, and first-year NFL player Xavier Worthy. Behind them, players like Justin Watson and Kadarius Toney could be up next. That group is better than last year's group of Week 1 wide receivers, but losing Rice brings massive unknowns for the roles and workload of the newcomers.

The Chiefs also appear likely to start either rookie Kingsley Suamataia or second-year Wanya Morris at left tackle, putting one of the youngsters in a high-profile position to kick off the season.

Defensively, the Chiefs will be monitoring defensive end Charles Omenihu's comeback from a torn ACL suffered in the AFC Championship Game in Baltimore. Given the typical ACL recovery timeline, Omenihu appears unlikely to start the season on the field.

For a team seeking a three-peat, September games matter most for what they can mean in January. Opening the year against two fellow AFC contenders is massively impactful. The Chiefs will also host the Houston Texans and go on the road to face the Buffalo Bills in the 2024 season, and depending on when those games fall, the AFC playoff picture could be relatively well-known earlier in the season than usual. If the Chiefs fall to the Ravens and/or Bengals, they could be playing catch-up in the standings, leading for those Texans and Bills showdowns (and truly, every game after) to become that much more important.

Read More: Kansas City Chiefs 2024 NFL Season Schedule Tracker


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Joshua Brisco

JOSHUA BRISCO

Joshua Brisco is the editor-in-chief and publisher of Arrowhead Report on SI.com, covering the Kansas City Chiefs. Follow @jbbrisco.