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It’s been 207 days since the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. After what feels like an eternity bettors are back to profit on NFL games, and once again Patrick Mahomes is here to end the long break since February.
The Chiefs host the Detroit Lions Thursday night and while many expected Kansas City to run away with it, an injury to superstar tight end Travis Kelce in a Tuesday practice suddenly changes the whole feel for the league’s kickoff game.
Kelce, who led the league in red zone targets and topped all tight ends in yards, receptions, touchdowns, isn’t replaceable. It seems like a sure thing that the Chiefs will be without their future Hall-of-Fame tight end, and the Lions will be looking to pounce.
The Chiefs are also likely without dominant defensive tackle Chris Jones, who has been holding out throughout the offseason seeking a new contract. With no end in sight the team’s best defensive player will likely miss Week 1 as well.
It doesn’t help Kansas City that this is a new Lions team as well. The team moved on from D’Andre Swift and added a strong duo of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, whose thunder-and-lightning skillsets should complement each other nicely.
The defense is completely reformed — Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Brian Branch and Jack Campbell all project as strong starters that this defense lacked in 2022.
All that said, this is still a Chiefs team led by Patrick Mahomes, hence why Kansas City is still favored in this game. Let’s get to the picks.
The line has fluctuated all week with the Travis Kelce and Chris Jones situations becoming a bit more clear. After sitting at nearly a touchdown the Kelce news slid the Chiefs down to 5.5-point favorites. By Wednesday morning Kansas City slipped another point, down to 4.5.
There isn’t much data to pull from when the Chiefs don’t have Kelce, largely because of how unprecedented this injury is for the 33-year-old tight end. Kelce has missed just two games since his 2013 rookie season, both of which were due to rest. He’s been as consistent as it comes, and head coach Andy Reid will have to adapt for the first time in a decade without him.
The Lions were one of the best offenses in the league last season, and should be able to perfect their run game against a defensive line missing its centerpiece. Detroit will likely walk away 0-1, but they can still keep this one close.
The Chiefs were 8-11-2 ATS last season, 24th in the league. The Lions, who took many by surprise last season, stood tall in second place with a 12-5 record ATS.
Detroit +4.5. Avoid the spread if it dips below four points.
The line has dropped two points from 54.5 to 52.5 since the Kelce news. It’s still too high.
Rsking a 33-year-old superstar in Week 1 who is the heart of the receiving game seems like a silly move. Mahomes will certainly find a way too score — and the Lions should grab a few end-zone visits themselves — but 52.5 is a high line.
Jared Goff struggles on the road, averaging 35 fewer yards and a significantly worse passer rating in road appearances last season. The NFL’s opening game in Arrowhead Staidum is sure to feel like an away game in every possible way, meaning the Lions may not run up the score as well as they did last season.
The Lions still averaged 25 PPG in road games without tight end T.J. Hockenson, who now catches passes in Minnesota. That’s pretty darn good, but that seems like the ceiling in this week’s tougher matchup. The Lions only exceeded that number against the Giants and the Bears, who ranked 22nd and 32nd in points allowed on the season.
Under 52.5. Expect this game to finish in the high 40s. Play the under to 50.5 assuming Kelce is ruled out.
What to watch: Lions vs Chiefs
When: 8:20 p.m. EST on Thursday, Sept. 7
Where: NBC, Peacock
DraftKings: Early-win bonus: If Detroit or Kansas City lead by seven points or more at any point of the game, your bet cashes out as a win regardless of the end result.
Caesars: SGP Profit Boost: Create your own same-game parlay for Thursday’s game and use a 50% profit boost given by Caesars on SGPs with +400 odds or longer. Head to Ceasars to claim this offer!
FanDuel: Profit Boost: Opt in for this promotion and receive a 50% profit boost for either a straight bet or a same-game parlay within the Lions/Chiefs game.
bet365: Early payout: Straight bets will be paid out with this promotion if the team you bet on is up by 17 points or more at any point of the game. If the bet is within a parlay, that leg will be marked as a winner. Sign up at bet365 to start betting on the NFL.
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Michael Sicoli has been writing about fantasy football and betting within the NFL space since 2020. He works as a writer and content creator with ClubFantasyFFL and runs an NFL defensive (IDP) newsletter with The IDP Guys. A graduate from Quinnipiac University, Michael is a long-time NFL fan with a love for soccer and the NBA.More info on Michael Sicoli
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