Travis Kelce welcomes Chiefs opening 2024 vs. Ravens, Bengals: ‘I’d rather play them early’

The Kansas City Chiefs won’t be easing into the 2024 season as they attempt to go for an unprecedented Super Bowl three-peat.

The Chiefs will face the Baltimore Ravens in the 2024 season opener on Sept. 8, a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game against reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and the team that finished the 2023 season with the league’s best record. Kansas City then faces Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. 

The Bengals have a 3-1 record against the Chiefs when Burrow plays, including in the 2021 AFC Championship Game. Cincinnati’s lone loss to K.C. with its star QB in tow came in a 23-20 thriller at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2022 AFC Championship Game.

That seems like a steep challenge for the Chiefs right out of the gate — but it’s one that star tight end Travis Kelce prefers.

“I do like the potential top teams in the league early,” Kelce said on his “New Heights” podcast. “I’d rather play them early or like midseason. I don’t like playing at the end of season outside of the division. I just feel like it’s too close to the playoffs and if I have a chance to play them in the playoffs, I want to keep that game fresh.”

It’s no secret that NFL players’ bodies, especially that of 34-year-old tight ends like Kelce, get worn down as the season goes on. But Kelce’s point about keeping playoff matchups “fresh” might also come with the Bengals and Ravens in mind. 

On Jan. 2, 2022, Cincinnati defeated Kansas City in a Week 17 regular-season matchup. It marked Burrow’s first time facing the Chiefs. Four weeks later, Burrow and the Bengals staged an 18-point comeback to upset the heavily favored Chiefs in Kansas City to advance to the Super Bowl. 

The Bengals and Chiefs faced off again the following season — but a month earlier, in Week 13. Cincinnati again rallied to beat Kansas City, but this time, Kelce, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs triumphed in the ensuing AFC title game.

Now, the Chiefs and Bengals face off right at the very beginning of the NFL season, meaning several months will pass until any potential playoff rematch. Ditto for the Ravens, whom the Chiefs did not face during the regular season last year before their conference title game clash. 

And Kelce seems just fine with that.

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