NFL Season Kicks Off with AFC Championship Rematch

The NFL will release the full schedule for the 2024-25 regular season with a made-for-TV experience on Wednesday. But the league is very adept at teasing the main event by releasing a few nuggets ahead of time, and that is what began on Monday. 

Since 2002, the NFL has kicked off its season with a special Thursday night game, and since 2004, that game has been hosted by the team that just won the Super Bowl. For the second year in a row, it is the Kansas City Chiefs, and their opponent for this coming September is the Baltimore Ravens.

It is a rematch of the AFC Championship Game that was played in Baltimore, but won by the Chiefs. Kansas City was a 4.5-point underdog for that game and won, 17-10. For the rematch at Arrowhead Stadium on September 5, the Chiefs are favored by three points.

Kansas City lost to the Detroit Lions in last year’s kickoff game, but beat the Houston Texans when they hosted it in 2020. The Ravens played in the game in 2013. But as the defending Super Bowl champions, they had to go on the road because of a previously scheduled Baltimore Orioles baseball game. They played at the Denver Broncos and lost, 49-27.

That game was also a playoff rematch from the year before, and the Broncos got their revenge with an incredible seven touchdown passes thrown by Peyton Manning.

Last season, the Ravens were the underdog in three of 17 games, and they finished the regular season 11-6 against the spread. The Chiefs were favorites in 16 of 17 games, and 4-4 against the spread at home.

AFC Favorites

These were the two teams that decided the winner of the Lamar Hunt Trophy last year, and they are both expected to be right there at the end of this coming year, too. The Chiefs are the current betting favorite to win the AFC, paying +300. The Ravens are right behind them at +475.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills are tied for third at +700.

The Chiefs are not expected to get serious competition in the AFC West. They are paying -225 to win their ninth straight division title. Repeating in the AFC North will be a little more challenging for the Ravens, who are paying +115. Joe Burrow is back for the Bengals, the Cleveland Browns were a playoff team last year, and there is a new quarterback in Pittsburgh in the person of Russell Wilson.

MVP Favorites Battle

Ravens at Chiefs to kick off the season is an obvious choice when you consider the 2024 expectations for each team, and the quarterback that is the face of each franchise.

Baltimore is led by Lamar Jackson, who just won his second NFL MVP award. When he won his first MVP in 2019, he was a unanimous winner. In 2023, he received 49 of the 50 first-place votes.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the league MVP in 2018 and 2022, and he’s been the Super Bowl MVP three times.

Mahomes is the preseason betting favorite to win his third MVP, paying +600. Jackson trails Burrow, Josh Allen, and C.J. Stroud, and he is paying +1000.

The NFL previously announced the two teams who will play in Brazil the following day, September 6. The Philadelphia Eagles opened as 1.5-point favorites over the Green Bay Packers, and that is where the point spread sits today.

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