Social media having a meltdown over injury news in the middle of the week can only mean one thing: the NFL is back. With games officially counting toward records, the time has come to bet on meaningful football again, and it all starts with the Lions and Chiefs. We’ll preview the game before going over my play on the total and some prop bets I’ll be targeting.
The last time the Kansas City Chiefs were on their home field, they were clinching their spot to reach the Super Bowl, and now, with another title under their belt, they are back to start the journey all over again. Once the banner is unveiled and last season is officially put to rest, Andy Reid’s squad will lineup against a Lions team with high expectations in the NFC.
Offensively, Patrick Mahomes is set to run another explosive offense, but he will not have his longtime offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, on the sidelines. However, even with that, the gunslinger still has plenty of weapons around him, including Skyy Moore, Isiah Pacheco, and Travis Kelce, who is questionable for week one with a hyperextended knee.
Dan Campbell’s Detroit Lions will be the first team tasked with slowing the Chiefs' offense, and to do that, they will have to take a step forward after last season. In 2022, the Lions finished 28th in the league in points allowed (25.1) and 32nd in yards allowed per game (392.4). Detroit made some upgrades in the offseason by adding Jack Campbell and Brain Branch through the draft, so while it may be improved, there is still a lack of experience on that side of the ball.
Detroit’s offense is the part of the team that has people the most excited, with the additions of Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam Laporta. After finishing 5th in points per game and 4th in yards per game last season, the Lions' got Jared Goff more weapons to play with after he threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2022. Goff will need all the weapons he can get for Thursday night’s matchup since PFF ranked the Chiefs' secondary as the 7th best unit in the league.
The total for his game is currently set at 52, and I’ll be taking the over for my play. Since 2013, the season's opening game has seen at least 49 points scored in six games, and we are treated to another matchup of explosive offenses. While they may be improved, the young Lions' defense will likely have its fair share of lapses in the first few weeks of the season, and Patrick Mahomes feasts on defensive miscues.
Kansas City is known for its crossing routes and deep balls that always seem open due to the quickness of their receivers and the confusion their offensive concepts can cause. These are not easy to guard for experienced corners, and Detroit has none of those on their roster. That aspect could be a disaster against a Chiefs offense that has scored at least 33 points in the season's opening game since Mahomes became the starter in 2018.
The good news for Detroit is while the Chiefs offense has started fast in week one, their defense has started slow, as they have allowed at least 20 points in the opening game since 2018. Kansas City did finish 2022 ranked 20th in passing yards allowed per game, and Jared Goff now has a viable pass catcher out of the backfield in Jahmyr Gibbs, who the Chiefs defense have never seen before.
Isiah Pacheco Over 10.5 Receiving Yards (-110): Pacheco was taken off the injury report entering this week and is set to be the predominant back in Kansas City this season. The second-year back is also set to play a more prominent role in the passing game, and he went over this total in seven of his last ten games last season, including the playoffs.
Jahmyr Gibbs Over 3.5 Receptions (-125): The talk all offseason was about how Detroit plans to use Gibbs in creative ways, and I think that starts from week one. Detroit takes on a Chiefs defense that allowed the most receptions to running backs last season with 112, and while Gibbs may not see a massive workload in terms of carries, I think the rookie gets his fair share of targets in the passing game.
Isiah Pacheco Over 10.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
Jahmyr Gibbs Over 3.5 Receptions (-125)