NFL Week 1 gets underway on Thursday with the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs raising their banner in Kansas City, while welcoming in a highly hypes up Lions squad.
Let’s breakdown the betting market on this game, along with some best bets available on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. While it seems like Travis Kelce avoided a long-term injury, he did suffer a knee injury during practice on Tuesday, just two days before kickoff. Given the limited recovery time, Kelce’s age and history with knee injuries, I’m going to factor him in as ruled out for this game — and even if he plays, I’d expect him to be extremely limited.
We’ve seen some massive shifts in betting markets off this news, and while Kelce is a very valuable piece, this just seems like too large of a move to the under and the Lions. The spread has dropped from 6.5 at the time the news hit to 4.5 as I write this article on Wednesday morning. I already began working on my NFL Week 1 Best Bets article, and the first play I put in was a teaser that got the Chiefs down to a pick’em. Because I’m already invested, I’m staying away from getting back in on this game putting out another play with a unit distinction. However, if you’re fortunate enough to have held off, I think we’re getting a discount on the Chiefs now.
You could use the KC ML (-218) as a 2-leg ML parlay piece, or just lay the 4.5 if you want a straight bet on a side for TNF.
Outside of his rookie season, when Patrick Mahomes started with the backups in the final game of the regular season while Alex Smith was still QB1 in KC, Mahomes has played just one NFL game without Kelce. He had 258 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, handily defeating a solid Steelers squad 36-10 at Arrowhead in December of 2021.
The Kelce absence/limitations should open up value both on KC and some props, which we’ll go over below.
Props on the KC side are going to be a wait and see situation for me when this game gets closer to kick. That said, the Chiefs’ team total was 30.5, and we now see a discount off the Kelce news. As I mentioned, Mahomes dropped 36 on the Steelers in his only true NFL start without Kelce, and I do trust him to spread it around to the receivers that he’s going to have (looking like seven will be active)!
Mahomes has been a Week 1 beast since he became the starter in KC, going 5-0 in Week 1 with an average margin of victory of 13 points. He has the Chiefs averaging 37.8 PPG in those Week 1 games, and has been consistent — never fewer than 33.
Meanwhile, since Dan Campbell took over in Detroit, he’s surrendered 41 to the Niners and 38 to the Eagles in his two Week 1 games as head coach.
No Kelce would obviously mean a lot of yards for Mahomes to spread around to his new receivers against a cushy Detroit defense. While Kadarius Toney (also dinged up) and Skyy Moore have a lot of big-play potential, I think MVS is the most stable option. Particularly with JuJu Smith-Schuster departing, that should open up even more for the former Packer. Mahomes developed a good relationship with MVS last season, leading to a monster AFC Championship game. If I get invested in a KC pass catcher, this will be the spot.
Lots to talk about on the Chiefs side of this game, but I’ll wrap up by giving out a bet that I have placed on the Lions side of things. This one opened in the mid-20’s, so I’m late to the party, but I expect a large role for Gibbs.
Not only did the Lions stun us by taking the ‘Bama RB at No. 12 overall, they were ready to do so at No. 6 if they were unable to trade (which would’ve been ahead of Bijan Robinson). Word is that Gibbs has been used a ton as a receiver in Detroit’s playbook, both lining up wide and catching out of the backfield.
I expect a lot of creative ways to get Gibbs in space, more in the passing game than the running game. Matchup and game script also both work in Gibbs’ favor here, so I don’t mind if you even want to reach on some ALT overs as well.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.
The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment.