The long wait is over, opening kickoff is finally upon us.
The NFL is serving up an exciting matchup for its 2023 season opener, which might be a shocking statement to hear if you slept through the last season. The Detroit Lions spent 2022 surprising the NFL community by tripling their win total from 2021, ending the season on a high note by knocking Green Bay out of playoff contention and finishing with their first winning record in five years.
They face off against a Kansas City Chiefs juggernaut who might be walking into this showdown at half strength. Any team with Patrick Mahomes behind center is going to be a threat, but Patrick may be without his two biggest contributors on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Travis Kelce hasn’t officially been ruled out at the time of this writing, but left practice on Tuesday with a “hyperextended knee” that would require further testing. Reports came out Thursday morning that ligament damage has been avoided and Kelce will be a game-time decision with a “bone bruise,” but the 34-year-old tight end is such a key contributor to this offense it’s hard to believe they’d jeopardize their season by rushing him back too quick. Ian Rapoport also reported that practice squad tight end Matt Bushman is a game-day activation as added insurance in case Kelce can’t play.
On the other side of the ball, Chris Jones remains adamant that his services deserve a pay hike, and he’s willing to sit out to get it. Kansas City’s defensive success is predicated on the impact Jones has in the interior of the line, both as a pass rusher and a run stuffer.
Dan Campbell has built the Lions’ culture around an old-school, trench-battle mentality. Their offensive line is arguably their greatest strength, finally ranking as a top five unit by Pro Football Focus and is returning all five starters. First round pick Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery should have running lanes carved in front of them all season, and if Chris Jones isn’t available tonight, it bodes very well for their production.
Here is how our staff at Bolts From the Blue believes the game will shake out, given the current lines provided by DraftKings Sportsbook:
What do you think, BFTB community? Who is your money on for this game?