On September 7, football finally returns to our screens, and with it comes a smash-hit opening-day game in the NFL. Not long ago, seeing a game between the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs will have had most palming aside the Michigan team.
Coming into this season, there’s a renewed sense of hope in Detroit. The AFC West may have been walked by the Chiefs to the tune of 14-3, while the Lions missed the playoffs with a 9-8 record in the NFC North, but Detroit is raring to go. They may even get off to a red-hot start by beating the Super Bowl champions.
A high-scoring game to kickstart the new season
If nothing else, the Lions-Chiefs game always delivers copious points tallies. In 2019, the Chiefs won 34-30, and in 2015, they won 45-10. On the flip side, in 2011, the Lions won 48-3 to make it back-to-back wins after their 2007 triumph of 25-20. Overall in the head-to-head scoring, though, the Chiefs are 9-5 up.
Were the two teams to meet last season, most would have backed the Chiefs to win by a handsome margin. Averaging 29.2 points for per game to the Lions’ 26.6, on top of Detroit averaging 7.5 yards per passing attempt (good for second-worst in the NFL), and a Patrick Mahomes special was very much on the table.
Coming into the season, it makes sense that, based on past results, the Chiefs would walk away as the winners. The oddsmakers are on this side, giving them -278 odds of winning the game along the money line to Detroit’s +225.
The Lions are certainly the underdogs on Opening Day, especially as the Chiefs are at -104 at -7 on the spread. Anyone who wants to win big with the best NFL odds would look to the total points lines. Recent matchups have soared past 55 points, so the over-54 line at -110 will certainly have its suitors.
Important improvements made over the offseason
The Chiefs look to be coming back as strong as they were in 2022, if not stronger. They landed edge defender Felix Anudike-Uzomah and recovered well from losing Frank Clark, Orlando Brown Jr., and Andrew Wylie. Throw in Mike Edwards, Drue Tranquill, and Charles Omenihu, and it’s clear that the defense has solidified.
Then, there’s also the potential in the wide receiver room. Patrick Mahomes can make a star player out of just about any receiver – provided that they stay fit for the season. In 2023, there’s a lot of hope that mid-season signing for KC last season, Kadarius Toney, will take the big leap and finally prove to be a WR1.
As for the Detroit Lions, prior to the start of the season, they are suddenly the favorites to take the NFC North, despite being four wins from the title last season. It’s a testament to how well the Lions have done in the offseason. In fact, it’s been written that they should be given an A+ grade for their dealings.
Adding Brian Branch, Emmanuel Moseley, Cameron Sutton, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to the secondary helps to patch the biggest hole in the defense. At the same time, gains from the sack-happy rookie duo of last season, Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston IV, should make playing the Lions a rather daunting prospect.
Both teams have powered up their defenses, and with the somewhat hopeful attitude surrounding the Chiefs’ receivers collection, the Lions might well be feeling a bit more confident than if they were to have met last season. Going forward, Goff’s expected to put in another strong showing with Amon-Ra St. Brown ready and Jahmyr Gibbs capable of being used in just about any scheme.
Both the Lions and Chiefs are coming to the 2023 campaign with strong teams on paper. Being so evenly matched and with decent defenses, it’d be fair to expect the scoring to be lower than in the past. That said, even with the gains made in Detroit, the Chiefs are the clear favorites.