To open the 2023 NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs begin their championship defense against the Detroit Lions on “Thursday Night Football” from GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored by 4.5 points.
Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.
Nate Christensen (@natech32)
With the news that Travis Kelce and Chris Jones are likely not playing, the team is playing its first game ever without those two pillars. Combine that with having a full stadium for Banner Night — something that wasn’t a factor in 2020 — and the Chiefs are facing new circumstances. I think the Lions will play with a sense of desperation and make it close — but ultimately, I’m going to pick the better quarterback and head coach to win.
Chiefs 34, Lions 30
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
The Lions finished the 2022 season 8-2. They have a very good quarterback and coaching staff and a lot of young, top-drawer talent. They’re not going to go down without a fight. But even with all the questions now surrounding it, this is still an Andy Reid Chiefs team. Since coming to Kansas City, Reid is 9-1 in Week 1 — and hasn’t lost a season-opening game since 2014.
Chiefs 27, Lions 21
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
It sucks that there are multiple factors creating dark clouds over what should be great vibes for Banner Bight. The absence of Chris Jones (and the injury to Travis Kelce) are gut punches to fans excited to celebrate this team and their success as we kick off another fun season. But just because the evening starts with a bummer doesn’t mean it has to end with one. I see the Chiefs’ offense controlling the game with a strong rushing performance, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit getting timely stops that make this a comfortable win for Kansas City.
Chiefs 34, Lions 27
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
Here is an unpopular opinion: I don’t think missing Chris Jones is going to be as big of a deal as Chiefs Kingdom is making it out to be. The size and length of the Chiefs’ secondary matches up well with the Lions' intermediate and slot-based passing attack. The Detroit offense wasn’t nearly as potent on the road last season as it was in the safe confines of Ford Field. The wild card here, of course, is rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who might have been the most electric athlete in the 2023 NFL Draft. Look for the Chiefs to rely heavily on Drue Tranquill to shadow Gibbs. At the end of the day, I think Kansas City walks away from this one a double-digit winner.
Chiefs 31, Lions 20
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
Assuming Kansas City plays this game without both Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, the season opener’s difficulty may be exponentially more difficult than it appeared when it was announced. So what? Overcoming challenges kind of became the Chiefs’ thing as they overcame a plethora of injuries last postseason — and still won a Super Bowl. Kansas City will benefit from limited game film of their new wide receiving corps. Don’t be surprised if Jerick McKinnon — possibly Mahomes’ best out of structure target outside of Kelce — plays a key role. The defense will have its hands full trying to contain Jahmyr Gibbs and Amon-Ra St. Brown. But expect Steve Spagnuolo to have just enough tricks for Mahomes and the good guys to come out on top.
Chiefs 34, Lions 27
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
The Lions are one of the offseason’s fun storylines — and I truly believe they’ll be competitive this year. Acknowledging that, however, doesn’t mean Detroit is ready to enter Arrowhead Stadium and take down the defending Super Bowl champions to open the NFL season. Since Patrick Mahomes became the Chiefs’ starter, he’s never scored less than 33 points in a Week 1 contest. While Detroit improved its defense, that doesn't mean it’s ready for an offseason of preparation from Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. The absence of Chris Jones is sure to be felt, but it won’t be enough for the Lions to beat the Chiefs.
Chiefs 35, Lions 24
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
A Chris Jones-shaped cloud is hanging over the banner ceremony and the NFL’s opening night. Luckily, the Chiefs have the brightest star in the league — and a primetime game — to make up for it. The Super Bowl champions will come out firing, showing the world that they’ve not only reloaded and grown as a team, but that it is also a budding dynasty. Watch the second-year players on Thursday night. We could see big games from Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis and Isiah Pacheco — and it could also be Skyy Moore’s coming-out party; he’ll get a substantial volume of targets right out of the gate. Mahomes and Andy Reid will show the world that the Chiefs aren’t defined by one defensive player.
Chiefs 38, Lions 28
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
How much adversity is too much adversity for Patrick Mahomes? The quick-twitch answer is, “Pete, you know there isn’t too much.” But that’s not really true, is it? The Chiefs learned that difficult lesson in 2020 as they faced an extraordinarily disruptive Tampa Bay Buccaneers front seven with the backups of the backups of their offensive line. This time around — on a Banner Night where a hungry Lions team is coming into Arrowhead — the starting offensive line seems like the only sure thing. Kansas City’s best defensive player, Chris Jones, won’t be available — and its best offensive weapon, Travis Kelce, is likely to be limited or unable to play. Meanwhile, the team’s best cornerback, L’Jarius Sneed, and in-house-dubbed No. 1 wide receiver Kadarius Toney are presumably going to be eased in after preseason injuries. Detroit comes in rather healthy — and even though it finished 9-8 in 2022, it was 8-2 to end the season. I think there is real blood in the water here, and I believe all the circumstances might make this a last-team-to-touch-the-ball game. With Andy Reid’s extra prep time tipping the scale, I’ll hesitantly go with Kansas City here.
Chiefs 34, Lions 31
Which team wins Lions (0-0) at Chiefs (0-0)
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout (14 or more points)
Chiefs in an easy win (8-13 points)
Chiefs in a close game (7 or fewer points)
Lions in a close game
Lions in an easy win
Lions in a blowout