Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-0-1)
Detroit +7 is one of two lines I locked in earlier this week, along with Cleveland +7. I legitimately don’t understand this line. It was at 6 last week and I thought it might be closer to 3 following the Lions’ upset victory in Philadelphia, but instead it’s gone up to 7. I’ve thought the Lions are an underrated team since before the season started. I loved the way their defense played down the stretch last season, after the acquisition of defensive tackle Damon Harrison and the breakout of fellow defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, and then they added defensive end Trey Flowers to the mix in free agency this off-season, giving them one of the best defensive lines in the league.
Their offense slowed down around the time their defense improved last season, so no one paid much attention to their defensive improvement, but their offense struggles were in large part due to quarterback Matt Stafford playing through a broken back and not having most of his weapons healthy either. I didn’t have them making the post-season coming into the season, but that was more due to how loaded the NFC is more than anything. Off to a 2-0-1 start, the Lions could easily end up qualifying for the post-season when all is said and done.
Given that, it’s really hard to figure out why they should be touchdown underdogs at home against anyone. The Chiefs are one of the top teams in the league and have a juggernaut offense even without top wide receiver Tyreek Hill and left tackle Eric Fisher, but their defense still has a hard time getting off the field and their average point differential on the road since the start of last season is +6.1, with just 3 wins by more than a touchdown. Why are they expected to beat an above average Lions team by multiple scores?
The one concern here is that Matt Stafford popped up on the injury report on Friday after tweaking his hip in practice. This is obviously something that I didn’t know when I locked this line in earlier this week and all sources are confirming he’ll still play (and the line hasn’t moved), but there’s a possibility he’ll be less than 100%, so that does create some uncertainty here. Unless I hear otherwise on Saturday, I’m proceeding with this as my Pick of the Week because we’re getting so much line value (my calculated line even pricing in the uncertainty with Stafford is Kansas City -1). The money line is also worth a bet, as the Lions have a great chance to pull the upset straight up if Stafford’s injury proves to be nothing.
Final Update: Matt Stafford seems like he’s going to be fine, but the Lions will be without top cornerback Darius Slay, who practiced all week in limited fashion, but was ruled out before gametime when his hamstring injury tightened. That hurts the Lions’ chances of pulling the upset, but they should still be able to keep this close game and cover this inflated spread.
Detroit Lions 24 Kansas City Chiefs 23 Upset Pick +255
Pick against the spread: Detroit +7
Confidence: Pick of the Week