Chiefs vs. Lions: Time, TV, streaming, how to watch, key matchups, odds, pick for 2023 NFL Kickoff Game
The 2023 NFL season is lastly right here, and issues will get began Thursday evening with the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs kicking off their Tremendous Bowl protection with a house sport towards the upstart Detroit Lions.
Kansas Metropolis enters the season favored to repeat as champions, whereas the Lions are among the many hottest breakout picks and anticipated to make the playoffs for the primary time in fairly some time. We’ll get to see two explosive offenses take the sector on Thursday evening, though these groups would possibly look only a bit totally different than we thought they’d, whether or not due to harm, suspension or contract-related points.
Earlier than we break down the matchup, here is a take a look at how you’ll be able to watch the sport.
How to watch Lions-Chiefs
When the Chiefs have the ball
In 5 profession Week 1 video games, Patrick Mahomes has accomplished 121 of 167 passes (72.5%) for 1,542 yards (9.2 per try), 18 touchdowns, and nil interceptions. In accordance to Tru Media, he is averaged 0.55 anticipated factors added (EPA) per dropback in these video games — a charge that may often be greater than twice nearly as good as the standard league chief.
Up towards a Detroit protection that completed final season ranked thirty second in yards allowed, twenty eighth in factors allowed, twenty seventh in FTN’s DVOA and thirty first in Tru Media’s EPA per play, there may be each cause to anticipate one other monster efficiency. Besides that we now have to contemplate what Mahomes has completed with and with out star tight finish Travis Kelce, who hyperextended his knee in Tuesday’s follow. (In accordance to his brother, Eagles middle Jason Kelce, Travis has a.) Kelce has not missed a sport due to harm since his rookie season, so clearly, Mahomes has performed only a few snaps with out his prime goal on the sector. Nonetheless, he has unsurprisingly gotten glorious outcomes.
Mahomes, naturally, ranks first within the NFL in EPA (anticipated factors added) per dropback in the course of the five-year interval since he grew to become Kansas Metropolis’s starter. In fact, the 0.26 EPA per dropback he is averaged with Kelce within the sport is the very best mark of the previous 5 years, however the 0.18 he is registered with out Kelce would drop him all the best way down to … second greatest.
Nevertheless, taking a couple of snaps right here or there with out Kelce in the course of the course of a drive is way totally different than having to play a whole sport (or a stretch of the season) with out him. And finally, the truth that Mahomes has thrown a lot shorter passes (6.2 air yards per try vs. 8.3), created fewer first downs (34.9% of makes an attempt vs. 40.5%) and explosive performs (8.2% of dropbacks vs. 10.1%), and thrown for touchdowns much less typically (5.0% of makes an attempt vs. 6.6%) with Kelce on the sideline than on the sector would have a major impact on Kansas Metropolis’s offense.
If Kelce does swimsuit up and play his ordinary complement of snaps, we should always anticipate him to completely eat. Detroit’s linebackers had been uniformly terrible in protection final season, and on the kind of intermediate passes that Kelce excels at catching, the Lions allowed the league’s fifth-worst EPA per dropback. Including Jack Campbell through the draft and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson through free company ought to assist in that division — simply, in all probability not sufficient to shut down Kelce, who’s the NFL’s most harmful weapon in that space of the sector.
Within the unlikely occasion that Kelce is simply completely blanketed, Kansas Metropolis has loads of different methods for Mahomes to tear up a protection. They do not essentially have a real No. 1 receiver, however the Chiefs do have a number of gamers who can excel in particular roles. Kadarius Toney is the very best of the bunch, however he is probably to be restricted to packaged performs in his return from knee surgical procedure. Nonetheless, we noticed within the Tremendous Bowl how harmful he might be even whereas enjoying restricted snaps. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the deep risk, Skyy Moore will work the slot, Justyn Ross could make contested catches, Rashee Rice can do the kind of jet sweep and designed touches and Mecole Hardman did and even Justin Watson is usually a risk on play-action passes.
The Chiefs have proven that so long as they’ll preserve Mahomes upright with a robust offensive line, it virtually would not matter who their receivers are. Their quarterback and their head coach (Andy Reid) are that good. Kansas Metropolis’s offensive line is that good, too. They’ve arguably the very best inside trio within the NFL (Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith), and whereas Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor have some query marks hooked up to them, they need to find a way to maintain up nicely sufficient for Mahomes to do his factor. Detroit’s cross rush was proper round league common by way of creating strain final season (34.9% of opponent dropbacks in contrast to the 33.2% leaguewide charge), however struggled to flip strain into sacks (17.4% vs. 19.3% common), which is an particularly harmful mixture towards Mahomes, who’s second to none at creating exterior of construction.
If the Lions cannot discover a approach to manufacture strain, they’re in all probability drawing useless when it comes to stopping the Chiefs already. However that is very true contemplating the weak spot of their protection final season was truly within the run sport, and the Lions did not make any vital additions to their defensive entrance. The Lions allowed 2.03 yards per contact per carry final season, per Tru Media, the third-worst mark within the NFL. In addition they allowed 3.19 yards after contact per rush, the fourth-worst determine. With their energy run sport, the Chiefs checked in second in yards earlier than contact per carry a 12 months in the past. That is not a very good mixture for the Detroit protection, which has its fingers full in each space of this matchup.
When the Lions have the ball
The primary and most vital factor to notice right here is that the Chiefs can be enjoying this sport with out Chris Jones, who’s by far their greatest pass-rush risk. That is notably vital as a result of the Lions have a very good offensive line whose weak spot in cross safety might be up the center, the place Jones does his work, and since there may not be a single quarterback in all of soccer whose efficiency drops off extra when beneath strain than Jared Goff’s.
We noticed this throughout his time in Los Angeles, and now we have seen it once more all through his two years in Detroit. When throwing from a clear pocket, Goff has put up top-10 numbers leaguewide. Underneath strain, he is collapsed to the bottom-10.
With out Jones, the Chiefs are clearly much less probably to generate strain on Goff. Final season, Kansas Metropolis’s protection recorded a sack, hit or hurry on 37% of opponent dropbacks, however solely 29% of dropbacks with him on the sideline. That is a fairly vital distinction. With out Jones and the suspended Charles Omenihu, it should largely be up to edge rushers George Karlaftis and Mike Danna, plus rookie Felix Anudike-Uzomah to create strain on Goff. (Inside linemen Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton aren’t massive pass-rush threats.)
If and when Goff does have time to throw, we all know who his prime goal can be: slot man Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Solar God is coming off his first Professional Bowl look after hauling in 106 receptions for 1,161 yards and 6 touchdowns final season. He lined up within the slot on 54% of his routes, in accordance to Tru Media, and when he did so he was focused on 28.8% of this routes, catching 61 of 83 passes thrown his approach for 596 yards and a rating. The Chiefs used a number of totally different defenders within the slot final season, with L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie filling that function at totally different instances, and later within the season relying on the matchup. Whichever of them is tasked with defending St. Brown can have his fingers full.
Issues are a bit extra up within the air for the Lions on the skin. Not less than till Jameson Williams returns from his six-game suspension, Detroit doesn’t have a high-level risk exterior the numbers. Marvin Jones, Josh Reynolds, and Kalif Raymond determine to get essentially the most alternatives, however none of them ought to scare defenses all that a lot. As a substitute, the passing sport will largely movement by St. Brown and a pair of rookies: tight finish Sam LaPorta and operating again Jahmyr Gibbs. Being that that trio of gamers consists of a slot receiver, a decent finish and a again, it is probably that almost all of Detroit’s targets can be short-area throws, so the Lions will want them to constantly create yards after the catch so as to make massive performs. Linebackers Nick Bolton and Willie Homosexual, plus safeties Justin Reid and Brian Prepare dinner, will want to be at their greatest within the tackling division.
The Lions had success operating the ball with lots of totally different appears to be like final season, and may once more convey a various run sport to the desk this 12 months. The way it will fare with a distinct pair of backs (Gibbs and David Montgomery instead of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams) stays to be seen, however the line ought to block issues up nicely sufficient for a duo that matches nicely collectively given their divergent physique varieties and talent units. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has proven he can scheme issues up and put gamers in place to succeed.
Prediction: Chiefs 34, Lions 27