The Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5, 52.5) and Detroit Lions face battle in the opening game of the 2023 NFL season on Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The Lions were the league's most improved club in 2022, finishing 9-8 after being 3-13-1 in 2021, while the Chiefs just won their second Super Bowl in the previous four seasons.
What can we anticipate in terms of betting for the game on Thursday night? How should you account for Travis Kelce's hyperextended knee and the likelihood that he won't be able to play?
Tyler Fulghum, Anita Marks, Erin Dolan, Eric Moody, and Seth Walder, betting analysts, are here to share their perspectives on this wager.
Note: Except where otherwise noted, lines are from Caesars Sportsbook.
The Chiefs (-4.5, 52.5) host a Lions club that had a good end to the last campaign in their home opener. Do you think this game will be a high-scoring contest considering Travis Kelce's (hyperextended knee) and Chris Jones' (contract) uncertain situations?
Marks: At 52.5, I favor the UNDER. For a Kansas City offense that currently lacks a No. 1 wide receiver, Kelce's potential departure would be extremely significant. Without Kelce, finding the end zone will be more tough since he is a touchdown machine. With the signings of Moseley, Sutton, and Gardener-Johnson in the secondary and the selection of Jack Campbell at linebacker this summer, the Lions' defense has improved. The Lions limited five of their opponents to fewer than 20 points throughout their final 10 games of the 2021 campaign. Opening games don't frequently go over.
Fulghum: Despite the likely loss of Kelce, I still favor the OVER in this game. He continues to be the Chiefs offense's top pass-catcher, but Mahomes at home is still Mahomes at home, and there is now a lower number to pass. Remember that the Detroit defense was among the worst in the NFL last year, and while the Lions have improved on paper, I have to see it in person to believe it. I completely anticipate both attacks to play at a quick tempo, put the ball in the air to challenge the opposing defense, and score touchdowns in this game. Jones will be missing from the Kansas City defense, which should make it easier for Jared Goff and the Lions offense to move the ball effectively.
The Lions were among the NFL's hottest teams as the regular season came to a close, and they just missed the playoffs. They are the (+140) favorites to win the NFC North going into 2023. Do you believe this season's Lions hype?
Walder: I'm a little hesitant. Evidently, the offense was successful last season (it finished fourth in EPA per play), and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who is back, deserves a lot of the credit. But after Amon-Ra St. Brown, the receiving group is in doubt, the offensive line is overrated in terms of pass protection, and the defense has made progress but still doesn't appear to be doing much on paper. Although I still believe they will make the playoffs, the Packers are the team I would bet on to win that division based on the current odds.
Fulghum: Though I'm not convinced, I'm cautiously enthusiastic about the Lions being the division favorite. The NFC North remains competitive. Minnesota will decline from last year, but even then, they had a 13-win squad. The Packers are now turning to the extremely inexperienced Jordan Love after losing Aaron Rodgers, but they have by far the most built-up equity as a franchise in this division. The Bears are another team that won't suffer a 14-game losing streak as they did last season. The Lions are expected to improve. How much more or less is the query. For a greater return on investment, I'd much prefer wager on one of the other three teams than Detroit to win this division.
Dolan: The Lions received attention because they improved in the summer and finished the season 8-2. But I'm not a believer in them. In case you missed it, the Lions had the worst record in terms of yards surrendered per game. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cam Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley are some additions the Lions made to their defensive line, but I'm not sure they'll win the division at +140. At 3-1, the Vikings have a better chance of winning the division.
In his sixth NFL season, Patrick Mahomes will attempt to win the award once more. He has a projected 37.5 passing touchdowns for the entire season. Whether you're looking at Mahomes for tonight or his future, how are you approaching him this season?
Walder: Although it may be a dull wager, I prefer Mahomes at +600 to win MVP. He is currently without a doubt the league's finest quarterback, and if he has the best statistics, he will surely prevail. Narratively, it's still available to him: With Kelce possibly missing time, the club is without receivers. Mahomes' case will be strengthened if he can still guide the Chiefs to victory, which I believe he will do.
Fulghum: Everything Seth said is true. In terms of how to approach Mahomes this season, he was spot on. I won't bet against Mahomes in the season opener against the Lions on Thursday night. In his residence. Even with Kelce's absence, Andy Reid had the entire preseason to prepare for this match. Despite the hardships, I have faith that they will fulfill their offensive obligations.
In 10 of the 17 games he played last season, Mahomes passed for 300 yards, including six straight games at one point. He had a throwing yardage prediction of 298.5 against the Lions in the first game. Do you typically seek to wager on the over in this game, or has the likely absence of Kelce changed your mind?
Moody: The over is still the better choice on the Mahomes passing yards prop. He has a 303.3 passing yard per game average since taking over as the starter in 2018. Mahomes' quarterback rating and yards per pass attempt are lower without Kelce on the field, but his completion rate stays the same. Last season, the Lions' defense allowed the third-most passing yards per game in the league, with 245.8. There are still a number of receivers to whom Mahomes can pass, including running back Jerick McKinnon, Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Skyy Moore. If Kelce is out, Noah Gray might have a bigger impact. Without a doubt, head coach Andy Reid will make the appropriate changes. The Lions will struggle to stop the Chiefs' passing attack.
Do you have any other games going on right now?
Dolan: Anytime, Jerick McKinnon TD +160. Last year, while playing for the Chiefs, he set personal records for targets, receptions, and receiving yards. Nine receiving touchdowns and one running touchdown were scored in that game. If the Chiefs are to win this game, they must score, and Mahomes will rely on McKinnon, a teammate with whom he has a terrific rapport. Additionally, this is Week 1's highest board total.
Cameron Sutton OVER 2.5 solo tackles (+130 at DraftKings), according to Walder. I'm basing this on my updated tackles model, which gives him 3.4 solo tackles for this contest, but I also believe Kelce's injury has something to do with it. Mahomes will probably have to throw outside more if the top TE is sidelined, and Sutton will be there.
Skyy Moore OVER 45.5 receiving yards (-129), according to Fulghum. Moore will undoubtedly gain the most from Kelce's absence, in my opinion. In terms of predicted snap rate for this season, Moore was already third behind Kelce and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but if Kelce misses time, he'll move up to first or second and, more importantly, operate in the short and intermediate areas of the field that Kelce would have occupied. Moore receiving more than seven targets on Thursday night wouldn't surprise me.
the name Jahmyr Gibbs 29.5 receiving yards and OVER 3.5 receptions (according to DraftKings). I am totally behind Gibbs. He averaged 10 yards per target while in college and was utilized in roughly 80% of passing plays, which is why he was selected in the first round. According to Lions offensive coordinator Johnson, "Gibbs will be utilized in a variety of ways that will be surprising." Last season, Kansas City's defense struggled to contain running backs against the pass, allowing 112 receptions to the position for an average gain of over 47 yards per game.
David Montgomery is marked. whenever TD. Jamaal Williams, who amassed 17 rushing scores for the Lions last year, is replaced by Montgomery. Montgomery, who served as the Bears' goal-line back, ought to outperform Williams. Jones won't be there, which will make Kansas City's interior defensive line vulnerable to the run.
Isiah Pacheco exceeds 49.5 yards per game in rushing. After hearing about Kelce's hyperextended knee, I was immediately drawn to this prop. When Kelce is out on the field, the Chiefs have leaned more on their rushing game over the previous five seasons. Pacheco led the Chiefs in rushing as a rookie with 830 yards and added 197 more in the postseason, all while being supported by an offensive line that ranked eighth in run block victory percentage. With 2.91 rushing yards gained per carry without making contact, Pacheco was ranked 14th in the league. Pacheco could shine even more this season behind a Chiefs offensive line that features two new tackles. It's also important to remember that during the previous season, the Lions gave up 146.5 rushing yards per game.
Moody: Jared Goff attempts over 35.5 passes. Under first-year offensive coordinator Johnson, who returned to the team after rising as a head-coaching possibility late last season, Goff passed for 4,438 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. This year, Johnson and Goff need to be even more precise. In 2022, Goff averaged 34.5 pass attempts per game. In order to stay up with the high-octane Chiefs offense, he should attempt more passes than that. On Thursday night, the Lions quarterback is likely to rely heavily on running back Jahmyr Gibbs and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Skyy Moore OVER 44.5 receiving yards is a mark. Moore might end up leading the Chiefs in targets if Kelce is out. He is an expert at establishing distance and will frequently be moving away from the slot. The Lions struggled against slot receivers last season, giving up an average of 11 yards per target, a 76% catch percentage, and a 6% touchdown rate.