Chiefs vs Lions Picks, Odds, Player Props: 6 Best Bets for Thursday Night
Chiefs vs Lions Odds
Thursday Night Football of Week 1 is nearly upon us. That means it's time for Chiefs vs Lions picks, odds, player props and more in our 6 best bets for Thursday Night as we begin the 2023 NFL season.
We've been waiting almost seven months for the NFL to return. The last time we had meaningful NFL football, these Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. But they're not exactly the same Kansas City team that will take the field tonight against the Lions. The Chiefs might be missing key players on both sides of the ball, as Travis Kelce was ruled out for Kansas City just after 5:30 p.m. ET.
Fortunately, they still have Patrick Mahomes, who features heavily in our Chiefs vs Lions picks, odds, player props and best bets.
Our staff of betting analysts is all over this game with this complete betting preview. From Chiefs vs Lions spread picks to totals and plenty of player props, here are our experts' favorite Chiefs vs Lions picks and best bets, as well as the latest Chiefs vs Lions odds and more.
Chiefs vs Lions Picks, Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our NFL betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NFL Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Chiefs vs Lions Spread Pick, Best Bet
The Lions finished ninth in Offensive DVOA last season, and the offense could get better this season. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is back, and the Lions added weapons in the draft (Jahmy Gibbs and Sam LaPorta). Also, the Penei Sewell-Taylor Decker-Frank Ragnow offensive line trio will be rock solid.
Meanwhile, Detroit’s young defensive stars shined in the second half of last season. Aidan Hutchison and James Houston will thrive in the pass rush, while the Lions also overhauled their secondary in the offseason with cornerbacks CJ Moseley, CJ Gardner-Johnson and Cam Sutton while drafting safety Brian Branch.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, are a dominant offense with a league-average defense. Sound familiar?
Kansas City’s defense figures to improve as the season progresses, but that won’t help them in Week 1. Defensive roster turnover and young talent don’t bode well in an early season tilt against an elite NFL offense.
Meanwhile, Travis Kelce is out for this game. Without him, I’m unsure if the Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes offense will roll, especially against Detroit’s vastly more talented secondary.
Meanwhile, all the historical trends are telling us to bet Detroit. Despite the Chiefs’ usual dominance, they’ve been surprisingly ineffective at covering as favorites. The Chiefs are 14-25 ATS as favorites of over a field goal since 2020. Although the market is moving to Chiefs -3.5 at a number of books, you can still get Lions +4.5 at bet365 — and while you're there, make sure to use our bet365 bonus code!
Mahomes scores points, but his defense allows underdogs to hang around.
Meanwhile, hanging around is what the Johnson-Goff offense does. Despite fielding a lousy, ineffective defense, the Lions are 17-9 ATS as underdogs of more than a field goal in the Dan Campbell era.
Two more for the road:
- Week 1 underdogs of 6.5 or more points are 49-31 ATS since 2005 (61%, 19% ROI).
- Week 1 road ‘dogs that missed the previous postseason (e.g., the Lions) are 84-57-5 since 2005 (60%, 16% ROI).
The Lions could win this game outright, but I’ll happily take the points. Use our NFL odds page to make sure you're getting the best line possible when betting the Lions.
Chiefs vs Lions Team Props Picks, Best Bets
By Billy Ward
My favorite NFL prop is back — at least at BetMGM — after coming and going a few times last season. That would be the "Will either team record 3 unanswered scores" bet, found under the "scoring props" tab.
When I first started looking into this bet, BetMGM kept the same price on it for every single game, with the no at +175. That was pretty obviously inaccurate, as some games were certainly more likely to have three straight scores than others.
By charting five years worth of data, I came to the conclusion that this bet correlates far more heavily with the spread than it does the total. With the flat pricing across all games, this made any game with a spread of 2.5 or less a value, and blind-betting those opportunities produces roughly a unit of profit per week.
Now, things are a bit more complicated, as I'm expecting varied pricing on the bet based on the +200 in the opener. However, it certainly seems that books (DraftKings occasionally offers this prop as well) are correlating their pricing to the total, rather than the spread.
While the total matters, the spread is the far more important factor. This prop went up when the spread was at 6.5 points — and I was showing a value on it then — but it's an even better value now that the spread has tightened in reaction to the Travis Kelce injury. An injury that also put a dent in the total.
That's the other way we can find an edge on this prop (and other derivatives). Even if books price the prop perfectly at open, if the spread and/or total move, there's sometimes value in props that they've forgot to adjust.
I have a fair value on this one around +160 (depending on how you weigh the spread vs. the total) following the line movement, making the +200 a great play.
Pick: Either Team 3 Unanswered Scores — No (+200)
Chiefs vs Lions Player Props Picks, Best Bets
Regardless of whether Travis Kelce was on the shelf for this season's opener, my numbers anticipated a bit more of a run-script for the Lions offense. Getting into a shootout with the Chiefs when your second-best proven pass-catcher is 33-year-old Marvin Jones Jr. seems like a bad idea.
My model has Goff for 245 passing yards and that gives us a very minimal 4% expected edge over FanDuel's current number. Normally, this would be a "lean" and move-on type of situation but since it's the opening game of the year, I'll get some light action down.
Pick: Jared Goff Under 258.5 Passing Yards
Chiefs vs Lions Patrick Mahomes Props
This is one of my favorite props of the week.
Mahomes gets a matchup against the Lions, who gave up the most rushing yards to opposing QBs last season — a massive 700 total with the next closest being Miami at 525. While this is slightly inflated due to playing Justin Fields twice and giving up 300 yards total between those two games, Detroit's defense is still a solid matchup for mobile QBs.
The total and spread for this game are also solid here, and Mahomes has some legs. He hit the over at this number in 10 of 17 games last season, averaging over 20 yards per game. Also, Kelce missing this game could cause Mahomes to do some work on the ground here.
I'd bet this line up to 18.5.
Pick: Patrick Mahomes Over 17.5 Rushing Yards
Chiefs vs Lions Jerick McKinnon Props
By Chris Baker
I think McKinnon is poised to benefit from Kelce's absence tonight.
The Lions will likely be starting a combination of rookie LB Jack Campbell and veteran Alex Anzalone. Campbell was fine in coverage in college but was definitely drafted due to his prowess as a run-defender and his toughness. I expect him to have difficulty adjusting to NFL speed, and this is an especially difficult first game given how much pre-snap motion (third in 2022) the Chiefs use.
Anzalone, meanwhile, was graded 42nd out of 70 qualified linebackers in coverage grade according to Pro Football Focus. If Malcolm Rodriguez sees any playing time, he will almost certainly be targeted by Andy Reid as the sophomore had a brutal rookie year in coverage.
I also think the fact that the Lions blitzed at the sixth-highest rate in 2022 benefits McKinnon, as the Chiefs will likely scheme up some screens for him.
This is not an especially difficult matchup for McKinnon on paper, but what really pushes this over the edge for me is the absence of Kelce. You can make a case that McKinnon is actually the most proven receiving threat for Mahomes entering Thursday night since he finished with a higher receiving DVOA and Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement than every non-Kelce Chief in 2022.
The absence of Chris Jones and Kelce should keep this game a bit tighter than it otherwise would be, helping keep the Chiefs in at least a neutral-game script that should help McKinnon clear this pedestrian total.
Pick: Jerick McKinnon Over 25.5 Receiving Yards
Chiefs vs Lions Total Over/Under Picks, Best Bets
By Ricky Henne
The Kansas City Chiefs average 37.8 — 37.8! — points per game in season openers with Patrick Mahomes under center. While Kelce’s knee injury throws a monkey wrench into things, it does provide an edge to those who believe the Chiefs offense can still cook without him.
The Chiefs’ team total was as high as 31.5 a few days ago. Now, with Kelce out, you can grab it as low as 28.5. That three-point shift is drastic. While it shows just how important Kelce is to this offense, I feel it’s an overreaction considering the maestro orchestrating this offense.
We’re blessed every time we get to watch Mahomes take the field, but that’s especially the case in the first week of the season. The reigning MVP boasts a ridiculous 136.9 passer rating over his five season openers, throwing for 1,542 yards, 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
So, if you were willing to back the Chiefs’ total at 31.5 with Kelce, don’t be afraid to back it at 28.5 potentially without him. For me, there’s simply too much history when it comes to Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 1 to ignore.
I do have my limits, though. Kelce’s absence is absolutely a game changer, just not one I feel should cause a full three-point shift, which is why 28.5 is a hard threshold for me.