Chiefs vs. Lions Betting Picks & Odds: Does Darius Slay Absence Provide KC Value?

Chiefs vs. Lions Betting Picks & Odds: Does Darius Slay Absence Provide KC Value? article feature image

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15).

Chiefs at Lions Betting Odds

  • Odds: Chiefs -6.5
  • Total: 55
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Odds as of Thursday and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

At a combined 5-0-1 straight-up and 5-1 against the spread, the Chiefs and Lions will look to continue solid starts to the year. Kansas City is nearly a touchdown favorite on the road, but where’s the value in this line?

Read below to see Sean Koerner’s projected odds, mismatches to note and how our experts are betting this game.

Chiefs-Lions Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Lions

The Lions are in good shape with the exception of Danny Amendola (chest), who hasn’t been able to practice on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Chiefs are in the spot as they were in Week 3 with Damien Williams (knee) expected to be out again. LeSean McCoy banged up his ankle last week, but he practiced in full on Thursday, so he should be good to go. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Chiefs Pass Offense vs. Lions Pass Defense

This matchup has less to do with the Lions and more to do with the Chiefs — and that would probably be the case almost regardless of whoever the Chiefs were playing.

Patrick Mahomes doesn’t always throw the ball deep, although it often seems as if he does. He’s just No. 13 with an average depth of target (aDOT) of 9.3 yards.

But when the Chiefs go deep, they have success: They attack downfield opportunistically. Mahomes has a league-high five passing touchdowns of 40-plus yards. He has an elite 147.9 QB rating on throws of 20-plus yards and leads the league with 13 deep completions, 526 deep passing yards and seven deep touchdowns (per Pro Football Focus).

To put those numbers in context: Just 15.9% of Mahomes’ completions have come on deep attempts, but 44.0% of his passing yards and 70% of his passing touchdowns are via the downfield game.

Basically, Mahomes is like a boxer. For much of the fight, he’s throwing low-impact body blows and setting his opponent up. And then, whenever he sees his opening, he goes for the head with the knockout punch.

As far as opponents go, the Lions aren’t soft, but they are punchable.

fantasy-football-ppr-rankings-wr-week 4-2019
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sammy Watkins

With wide receiver Tyreek Hill (clavicle) sidelined since Week 1, Sammy Watkins has run 66.7% of his routes from the slot. No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay is one of the few shadow men who follows receivers into the slot, and he has held opposing receivers to a low 52.4% catch rate since last year.

But Slay is questionable with a hamstring injury. If he plays, the Lions might not use him in shadow coverage, in which case Watkins would get to face cornerback Justin Coleman in the slot. Watkins is significantly bigger and faster than Coleman: He should win that matchup.

And if Slay does cover Watkins, I’d expect the receiver to beat the hamstrung corner.

On the outside, Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman have emerged as big-time playmakers in Hill’s absence. Over the past two weeks, Robinson has a 9-215-3 receiving line on 10 targets; Hardman, 6-158-2 on 11.

With Slay’s injury, he could struggle to keep up with Robinson and Hardman, and Coleman and outside corner Rashaan Melvin both seem outclassed given Robinson’s size and Hardman’s speed.

And this is to say nothing of tight end Travis Kelce, who will match up primarily with safety Quandre Diggs, who has a 52.0 PFF coverage grade. Kelce should be able to handle him.

The Lions defense has the league’s third-highest aDOT allowed at 10.3 yards: The Lions invite teams to attack them deep.

When a knockout puncher fights an opponent who invites headshots … [insert here GIF of Mike Tyson knocking out Michael Spinks]. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chiefs -5.5
  • Projected Total: 54

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: The Chiefs are a much better football team than the Lions. Kansas City should absolutely be the favorite here, but this is a textbook case of the market simply setting an imaginary number too high.

Mahomes is unstoppable, but the Lions defense is solid enough to slow him down, and their offense is more than capable of keeping up with the Chiefs at home.

The line has moved to -6.5, but the market is backing the Chiefs heavily with 86% of the tickets as of writing (see our live public betting data), so the line could end up going up to 7.5 by kickoff. If that happens and Slay and defensive tackle Mike Daniels are able to suit up, the Lions will be one of my favorite bets of the week. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Freedman: Chiefs -6.5

I’m not saying that you should blindly bet the Chiefs — but they are 3-0 against the spread this year, covering by an average of 7.3 points per game. And I still think the market is undervaluing them.

Since head coach Andy Reid joined the franchise in 2013, no team has had larger offensive reverse home/away splits than the Chiefs. Most teams score more points at home than on the road. But not the Chiefs. Under Reid, they have averaged 2.69 more points on the road than at Arrowhead Stadium.

In other words, the home-field advantage that most teams have when they play pretty much any other team — that’s drastically diminished when they host the Chiefs.

chiefs-raiders-betting-odds-picks-cheat sheet-nfl-week 2-2019
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Andy Reid

As a result, we might expect the Chiefs to be a great team against the spread on the road — and that’s exactly what we see in the historical data. Reid’s Chiefs are 33-16-1 ATS away from home, good for a 32.3% ROI (per Bet Labs). Since joining the Chiefs, Reid has been the most profitable coach to back on the road.

And from a football perspective, I like this line regardless of Reid’s ATS history. As highlighted above, the Chiefs offense should be able to exploit the Lions deep via the passing game. They could easily score 30-plus points.

As for the Lions on offense, they have a mediocre 5.6 yards per play, and that’s despite the points-friendly matchups they had in Weeks 1 and 3 against the Cardinals and Eagles. They’re 2-0-1, but their record seems fraudulent.

Given the road advantage they have under Reid, their explosive passing game and the mediocre opposing offense, the Chiefs could win by double digits.

I wouldn’t bet this past -7, because I want a margin of safety, but I would definitely take this to -7 with even a little extra juice if necessary.

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