The Detroit Lions haven’t played overseas in nearly a decade, but with the team on the rise, it appears as if 2023 could be the year that changes in a big way.
This year, the Lions will face off agains the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. While it’s been figured that game will be on the road for Detroit, it could also come in an international environment for the 2023 season.
Detroit and Kansas City could be in line to play in Germany for the 2023 season. That’s according to Peter King of NBC Sports. In a recent edition of Football Morning in America, King explained what is likely to happen with one of the international games this season.
As he said, he feels it likely the decision for Kansas City’s international game will come down to the Lions, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins, with Detroit winning out.
“It’s likely that the game Kansas City hosts in Germany (likely Frankfurt) will be against Detroit or Chicago, and possibly against Miami, but I’d think the NFL would want to hold Miami-KC as a doubleheader or primetime game because of its attractiveness. My bet for the Germany game: Detroit versus Kansas City in Frankfurt—because the league won’t want to risk exporting a 2-8 team (and Chicago just might be that) and a non-competitive game in a significant window. I’m not saying Chicago will be an also-ran by mid-November; I’m saying Detroit’s got a better chance of being a contender this year than Chicago does,” King wrote in the piece.
Detroit has largely been ignored in terms of primetime games and big slots, but that could be set to change. In 2022, the team managed a 9-8 finish and were flexed into primetime for the season finale against Green Bay on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. That shows their viability for 2023 in terms of big games, and this would qualify if they could get the nod over Chicago or Miami.
Last offseason, the league revealed that they would be set to host games in Munich as well as Frankfort from 2022 to 2025, with a pair of games set to be played in each host city. Last year, Tampa Bay defeated Seattle 21-16 at Allianz Arena in Munich.
Stud rookie wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown is half German, so this type of event would no doubt be special for him if it happened, and could give the league a shot to market one of their few German stars to an international audience.
For this reason, Detroit could be seen as a team to watch in a big way with regards to a potential game possibly in Frankfort when the series gets announced. They may even be the popular choice in the end.
Chiefs Likely Lions’ Toughest 2023 Opponents
With the schedule formula released a few months, there was a good chance to get a closer look at some of the teams the Lions play. Looking ahead then, it was clear the AFC would present Detroit with some of their biggest challenges next year.
It seems obvious to note that Kansas City Chiefs on the road will likely be Detroit’s toughest test. The Chiefs claimed Super Bowl 54 and now 57 and have three AFC Championships to their credit as well as an elite roster led by Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.
The Lions haven’t played Kansas City at all since the 2019 season, when they endured a narrow 34-30 defeat to the Chiefs at Ford Field despite holding a narrow 10-0 lead early on. Mahomes threw for 315 yards and Kelce had 85 clutch yards receiving on the afternoon. Kansas City would go on to claim the Super Bowl later on after a 12-4 finish.
While Detroit will likely have a middle-of-the-pack schedule in terms of difficulty, the AFC West will offer them some challenges given they will not only play the Chiefs but the Los Angeles Chargers, another playoff team from the 2022-23 season.
If there’s one advantage for Detroit, the environment would likely be far more neutral than GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, where Chiefs fans make game day miserable for the opposition. Kansas City fans would travel well, but the environment in Germany would not be close to the intimidating home field advantage the Chiefs currently have.
Lions History With International Games
The Lions don’t have a long history with playing internationally, but it has happened before twice in a span of years, with Detroit tangling with Atlanta in London and then facing off with Kansas City in 2015.
In their first appearance internationally, the Lions and Falcons squared off in 2014 at Wembley Stadium, with the Lions pulling out an exciting 22-21 victory in the last seconds courtesy of a Matt Prater field goal. It was one of the more exciting Lions finishes in recent memory:
Detroit played the Chiefs in London the very next year in 2015, losing 45-10 in blowout fashion. Since then, the Lions have not gone overseas, and have been one of the teams to avoid the trip as well as the extra long travel. In 2020, rumors swirled that the Lions could play Jacksonville in London, but those rumors never proved true, and the team ended up tangling with the Jaguars at their home in Florida.
The league could be primed to send Detroit back across the pond this season for a game. As always, time will tell whether that ends up being the case, and it’s likely an official announcement will not come until closer to May later this spring.
Lions fans will have to stay tuned to see if their passports will require an update ahead of the 2023 NFL season. If King is to be believed, this could be the case.