The NFL’s 104th season kicks off Thursday night with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs playing host to the upstart Detroit Lions in Arrowhead Stadium.
The game will pit a pair of teams that are favored to win their division. The Chiefs of the AFC West are the second-biggest favorite in the league to win its group (-165, DraftKings) while Detroit is the the pick in the NFC North (+145, FanDuel). The Lions have the second-longest odds among division favorites.
While KC will be chasing its eighth straight West title, the Lions are looking to end the league’s longest drought without a division crown that dates to 1993.
Check out our Lions vs. Chiefs odds, props, and predictions.
NFL Season Odds: Lions vs. Chiefs Spread, Moneyline, and Total
The Chiefs are a 6.5-point favorite across the board with an Over/Under total ranging from 54 to 54.5, which is the highest of any of the 16 Week 1 games.
As of Tuesday morning, the Chiefs were available at -275 on the moneyline, with the Lions at +250.
Last year, the Chiefs were involved in 12 games, counting playoffs, with an Over/Under total of 50 or more points. Their games went Under seven times. Overall in league play, the Under had a 16-10-1 winning record last year at 50+ points.
Dating to midseason 2020, this will be the Lions’ 37th time in their past 42 games that they enter a game as an underdog. But Detroit backers have cashed in, especially in the past two years, for the Lions have gone 19-8-1 ATS in an underdog role under coach Dan Campbell and QB Jared Goff.
Kansas City, meanwhile, was only 6-10-1 ATS during the 2022 regular season, tying for the worst points-spread record for a Super Bowl champ dating to 1976. But they did go 2-1 in the postseason.
Here are current odds from top US sports betting apps. It’s always recommended to shop around various sportsbooks to find the best prices for your bets and to take advantage of multiple sportsbook bonuses.
Lions vs. Chiefs Injury Report
For sure the biggest star most likely to be absent is KC defensive tackle Chris Jones, who had a team-high 15.5 sacks last regular season, tied for fourth most in the NFL. Plus he had two in the playoffs. No other Chief had more than seven.
Jones is in a protracted contract holdout and reportedly not close to reaching a deal.
Meanwhile, Kansas City WR Kadarius Toney, who had been sidelined with a knee injury, was said to be “good to go” by coach Andy Reid. Toney, one of the fastest men in the league, was a midseason pickup from the New York Giants last year.
The Lions have one WR who’s definitely out for Thursday’s game and one who was listed as questionable early in the week but is no longer on the injury report.
Jameson Williams, the team’s first-round pick in 2022 out of Alabama, will miss the season’s first six games while serving a gambling suspension.
Then there’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, who apparently is over his ankle injury. Last season, his 106 receptions were the seventh most in the league.
Lions vs. Chiefs Props
Here are some other interesting ways to bet on Thursday night’s game:
Anytime Touchdown Scorers (FanDuel)
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce: -175
Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: +120
Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco: +110
Lions RB David Montgomery: +100
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes: +290
Lions QB Jared Goff: +1200
Chiefs defense: +600
Lions defense: +900
Over/Under Options (DraftKings)
Over 42.5 points: -640
Under 42.5 points: +401
Over 50 points: -211
Under 50 points: +159
Over 60 points: +163
Under 60 points: -216
Over 67.5 points: +362
Under 67.5 points: -556
Alternative Point Spread (DraftKings)
Lions +20.5: -710
Chiefs -20.5: +432
Lions vs. Chiefs Stats, Analysis, and Prediction
Dating to 2000, defending Super Bowl champs have gone 19-3 straight up at home in games to start the ensuing season (13-6-3 ATS). Excluded is the one game the defending champion Baltimore Ravens opened on the road in Denver in 2013 and were walloped 49-27.
One of those three home losses by a defending champ occurred six seasons ago when the Chiefs routed the New England Patriots 42-27 as a 9-point underdog. It’s the biggest upset of a reigning Super Bowl champ on its home field in Week 1 in the past 36 years.
Plus, coach Andy Reid’s Chiefs have gone 9-1 in openers (7-3 ATS) since he took over in 2013. From 2015-22, KC won eight in a row.
Although the Lions made great strides last year in going 8-2 to close the season after a 1-6 start, they still had the league’s worst-rated defense in yards allowed, including 5.2 yielded per rush which was a franchise-worst. Even during their late-season surge, they were pulverized by Carolina for 320 rushing yards, the second most for any team in a game last season.
One thing the Lions will need to stress throughout the season, and especially Thursday, is reducing turnovers or it could be doom. Over the past three seasons, the Chiefs are 25-0 SU with a positive differential. Detroit, meanwhile, is 1-12 with a negative turnover margin during the Campbell-Goff era from 2021-22.
In summary, the Chiefs will certainly be hurting in the pass rush without Jones and going against one of the best offensive lines in the business. In addition, ex-KC pass-rush specialist LB Frank Clark is playing for Denver these days.
With regard to Detroit’s defense, teams don’t go from being ranked last to really good overnight — especially when facing the reigning MVP in QB Mahomes, who has 18 TD passes and no INTs the past five years in openers. He’ll operate behind a line that yielded only 26 sacks last year, the third-fewest in the NFL. But Detroit did improve its secondary immensely with the signing of ex-Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who tied for the league lead with six INTs last season.
The hunch is both offenses should be productive and that dynamic second-year RB Isiah Pacheco will be a wrecking ball on the ground.
Detroit doesn’t have near the equivalent passing game and will be relying heavily on rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs, the 12th overall pick in the 2023 draft from Alabama, to fill the void left by the departures of D’Andre Swift and 1,000-yard rusher Jamaal Williams. Analysts have raved about Gibbs’ speed and versatility.
This has the makings of a shootout. But likely not matching what occurred in 2018 in the LA Coliseum when Goff faced Mahomes in their only previous matchup. While with the Rams, Goff led his team to a 54-51 victory in the third-highest scoring game in league history.
Prediction: Chiefs and Over
How to Watch Lions vs. Chiefs
Date: Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023
Kick Off: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium — Kansas City, MO
Where to Watch: NBC