Lions 'earned' prime-time season opener vs. Chiefs, NFL says

There were countless options with intriguing storylines as the NFL was creating the 2023 schedule, but ultimately the league decided to showcase the Detroit Lions at Kansas City for the prime-time Thursday night kickoff game Sept. 7.

The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs -- led by reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes -- will always draw interest, but it's a big deal for Detroit to receive such national coverage, especially since the Lions were the only NFL team without a prime-time game on the schedule at this point last year.

Mike North, the NFL's vice president of broadcast planning, said Friday that the Lions "earned" the spotlight after winning eight of their final 10 games in 2022 to finish at 9-8. It marked the team's first winning season since 2017.

"Detroit's record down the stretch, what was it, eight of the last 10? And the last time we all saw them, they were going into Lambeau [Field] and ruining the Packers' season," North told reporters on a media conference call. "We always talk about you play your way into prime time, you play your way into the bigger television windows and the Lions have done that.

"Maybe it started a little bit in August with 'Hard Knocks,' and everybody getting to know Coach [Dan] Campbell and learning what a kneecap biter might be someday, but they earned it with their play on the field, and we considered all the options for kickoff, all the Kansas City home opponents and any one of them would've worked," he continued. "We were comfortable with every one of them and that included Detroit on the final schedule."

The Lions are scheduled for four prime-time games in 2023, in addition to their traditional Thanksgiving Day game versus Green Bay on Nov. 23 at Ford Field.

Detroit will return to Lambeau for "Thursday Night Football" against the Packers on Sept. 28, host the Las Vegas Raiders for "Monday Night Football" on Oct. 30 and travel to face the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, Dec. 30, on ESPN/ABC.

Over the past five seasons, the Lions played in just five prime-time games, the fewest in the NFL.

Campbell made an early appearance on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" on Friday and talked about the Week 1 appearance at Arrowhead Stadium.

While Campbell is excited for the opportunity, he's keeping everything in perspective, saying the Lions will try to "showcase what we're about on prime time."

He said the schedule shows the Lions are "gaining respect" across the league, but they have to deliver.

"Here's my first thought, I'll be totally honest with you as to why they would give us Kansas City," Campbell said on the show. "OK, you finished the year a certain way, but it also means that they're betting that we won't get our ass kicked. You may get beat, but you're not going to get your ass kicked. That's what they're saying."