NFL schedule: 9 playoff rematches include Ravens-Chiefs and Rams-Lions on opening week

Even though the Super Bowl rematch between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will not occur until almost the midpoint of the season, NFL fans will be treated to a pair of playoff rematches on the opening weekend.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs begin their quest for an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl title when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 5 in the Kickoff Game while the Los Angeles Rams are at the Detroit Lions in the Sunday night game on Sept. 8.

The two playoff rematches on Week 1 are among nine on this year’s regular schedule, which was released by the league Wednesday night.

The Ravens-Chiefs matchup is a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game, won by Kansas City 17-10. Kansas City heads to San Francisco in Oct. 20, after it defeated the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in the second overtime game in Super Bowl history. It also marks the second straight season the Chiefs will have a Super Bowl rematch after they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a Monday night game last season.

Kansas City will then travel to Buffalo on Nov. 17 in what is becoming a yearly matchup. This will be the fifth straight year the two teams have faced off in the regular season. The Bills have won three straight in the regular season but the Chiefs have won all three in the playoffs.

The Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Detroit’s Jared Goff will face their former teams for the third time, including the playoffs. The Lions won their first playoff game in 32 years when they defeated the Rams 24-23 in an NFC wild-card round game.

Goff recently agreed to a four-year, $212 million contract extension.

The rematch of the NFC championship game between the 49ers and Lions won’t happen until Dec. 30 in San Francisco, which is the last Monday night game of the season.

After the Rams game, the Lions host Tampa Bay on Sept. 15 in a rematch of a divisional round game won by Detroit.

The other playoff rematches are Baltimore at Houston on Christmas Day, Philadelphia at Tampa Bay on Sept. 29 and San Francisco at Green Bay on Nov. 24.

The NFL released the full slate for its 105th season after revealing four international games and both of its Christmas Day matchups earlier Wednesday. The schedule has been released the past couple of years on the second Thursday in May, but was slightly delayed this year.

Even though a memo was sent to teams late last week saying the schedule would be released Wednesday night, it wasn’t until Monday morning that it was finalized.

Hans Schroeder, the executive vice president of NFL Media, said there were meetings over the weekend to tweak things.

Five quarterbacks going in the first round of the draft impacted some of the final decisions.

“We were getting really close at the end of last week and had something we were really happy with Friday,” Schroeder said. “We had a four-hour zoom on Sunday night and had the final winner. It was very similar to Friday but a couple things we liked better. We used every minute to continue to refine it.”

Among other highlights:

NOTABLE DEBUTS

Kirk Cousins’ first game with the Atlanta Falcons will be at home on Sept. 8 when they host Russell Wilson and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cousins signed a four-year, $180 million deal with the Falcons during the offseason.

Wilson is making his Steelers’ debut after being released by Denver. It will also mark the return of Arthur Smith, who is the Steelers offensive coordinator after being fired as Falcons coach.

Caleb Williams, the top overall pick by Chicago in last month’s draft, will make his Bears debut against Tennessee. Chicago then goes to Houston for a Sunday night game on Sept. 15 against the Texans and reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud.

“That’s the beauty of where this league is right now. Here they are. That’s the way this league turns quickly if you get the right pieces in place,” NBC’s Mike Tirico said on the NFL Network schedule release show about Houston.

The top two picks in the draft could meet on Oct. 27 in Washington when the Bears face the Commanders and Jayden Daniels.

MULTIPLE SHORT WEEKS

Including the Kickoff Game, “Thursday Night Football” and Thanksgiving, 12 teams will be playing multiple Thursday games.

The league amended its policy last season where teams could make more than one appearance on Thursday nights.

Six teams — the Jaguars, Titans, Colts, Cardinals, Panthers and Chargers — will not have the short Sunday to Thursday turnaround.

LONDON CALLING

Aaron Rodgers will be facing a familiar opponent, albeit in a different uniform and in a new location.

Rodgers and the New York Jets will kick off this year’s games in London when they are the visiting team against the Minnesota Vikings at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Oct. 6.

Rodgers went 17-11-1 against the Vikings when he was with the Green Bay Packers. The four-time NFL MVP was traded to the Jets last year, but tore his left Achilles tendon on the first series of last year’s opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Rodgers is on track to return to practice without limitations once the Jets begin voluntary spring sessions next week. The league announced Tuesday that the Jets would open the season on “Monday Night Football” at NFC champion San Francisco on Sept. 9.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will spend back-to-back weeks in London for the second straight year and face two of this year’s top three quarterbacks that were taken in the NFL draft. The Jaguars will visit top draft pick Caleb Williams and the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Oct. 13 and then host the New England Patriots, who took Drake Maye third, at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 20.

The Carolina Panthers will host the New York Giants in Germany on Nov. 10 at Allianz Arena in Munich. In March, the league announced the Eagles will host the Packers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sept. 6.

CHRISTMAS DAY GAMES

Netflix has reached a three-year deal with the league to carry games on Christmas Day.

The streaming giant will carry two games this year and at least one game in 2025 and ’26. Kansas City travels to Pittsburgh in the first game before the Ravens and Texans meet in the late afternoon.

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