Reigning Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs will open the 2023 NFL season on Thursday against the Detroit Lions (01.20 Friday UK time) at Arrowhead Stadium.
The big question surrounding Kansas City coming into this season is can they finally go back-to-back? They came very close back in 2020 but ran into the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the current league MVP in Patrick Mahomes spearheading the offense, I suppose anything is possible.
As for the Lions, they have developed into genuine playoff contenders over the past couple of years, and ended last season very strongly, winning eight of their last 10 matches.
The Chiefs are unsurprisingly heavy favourites on the money line for this game at 4/9, with the Lions priced up at 9/5.
The major concern for Kansas City coming into this game is the availability of Travis Kelce, who suffered a knee injury in training on Tuesday, and it remains to be seen whether he will feature for the Chiefs here.
The defense could also take a hit here, as All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones may be unavailable due to an ongoing contract dispute, although Jones himself said that he could play in the season opener.
As for the Lions, Emmanuel Moseley is out with a knee injury and Isaiah Buggs is unavailable due to illness, but Jared Goff will lead the Detroit offense and he has a formidable weapon alongside him in Amon-Ra St Brown at wide receiver.
Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) @ 10/11
The Chiefs’ offense were incredibly dominant last season, and even the prospect of Kelce not featuring doesn’t put me off Kansas City covering the spread.
The Lions’ defense last season was a concern, and Mahomes can exploit that here regardless of the weapons at his disposal.
The Chiefs are 13-1 in their last 14 regular season home games, and they are facing a Detroit outfit that last season didn’t play as well on the road as they did in front of their own fans – the Lions averaged 33.1 points per game at Ford Field and just 19.4 away from it.
So, I’m sticking with the Chiefs to cover the spread here.
Kansas City Chiefs over 30.5 points @ 23/20
Sticking with a similar theme for my next pick – Kansas City have averaged 37.8 points in their five opening weekend games for Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, and I’m expecting a similar output in this encounter.
Detroit’s defense ranked 32nd in yards per play last season, allowing over six yards per snap, which doesn’t fill me with confidence. The Lions also allowed 25.1 points per game last season, which was the 28th-worst record in the league.
As mentioned above, despite the potential absence of Kelce, I don’t envisage Kansas City struggling to rack up the points here – I believe Mahomes can weave some magic at Arrowhead for the season opener.