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Lions-Chiefs Spread Shrinks Thanks To Critical Kansas City Absences

Can Detroit start 2023 with an upset victory over the defending champs?




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The Detroit Lions open the NFL season on Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and Detroit may be better positioned for an upset victory than it originally expected. 

Throughout the offseason, mobile sportsbooks listed the Lions as 6.5-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl champions. By Wednesday, the Lions were just 4.5-point underdogs to Kansas City at BetRivers, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and DraftKings. FanDuel listed the Lions as 5.5-point underdogs. 

The shift came after news broke Tuesday that Travis Kelce suffered a knee injury in practice. While Kelce isn’t expected to be out long term, his status for Thursday’s game is up in the air. Kansas City is also expected to be without star defensive lineman Chris Jones, who is holding out as he asks for a contract extension. 

As a result, the Lions face a seemingly easier path to an upset. A win (Detroit’s moneyline ranges from +180 to +200 across most mobile sportsbooks) could spark a special season for Detroit, which enters with high expectations for the first time in a long time. 

Lions passing game question marks

Detroit will face its own challenges through the air Thursday, especially at wide receiver.

Amon-Ra St. Brown is a proven commodity, and FanDuel set his receiving yards prop at 77.5 yards. Outside of St. Brown, though, the receiver group faces questions. Jameson Williams won’t play, as he begins his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s sports wagering rules. Can Marvin Jones and Josh Reynolds create separation to give Jared Goff reliable targets?

Goff’s passing yardage prop on FanDuel sits at 256.5 yards. He’ll also have a pair of notable pass-catching rookies at his disposal, as running back Jahmyr Gibbs is expected to play a role in the passing game and tight end Sam LaPorta looks like the starter at the position. 

At FanDuel, LaPorta’s receiving yardage prop is at 29.5, and Gibbs has a similar total of 31.5 yards. 

Shootout on tap?

Both the Chiefs and Lions ranked in the top five of the NFL in total yards and scoring in 2022, and each offense is excited about its 2023 prospects. The Lions return offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who brought out the best in Goff last year. 

With each offense possessing ample talent – the Chiefs may be without Kelce, but Patrick Mahomes is plenty healthy – the total is listed at 52.5 at multiple mobile sportsbooks. 

PointsBet has the total slightly lower, at 52. Caesars Sportsbook goes a tad higher, with the total listed there at 53 points.

Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images