This is a matchup of two teams that seem to be Super Bowl contenders, but many questions surround both teams. Is Detroit for real? They seem to be on the verge of something big, but Jared Goff had issues away from Detroit last season. In Kansas City the defense and offensive line have big question marks.
Patrick Mahomes is one of the best pressure managers in NFL history and is supported by one of, if not the best, interior offensive lines in the league. Though its interior remains solid, Kansas City will introduce two new offensive tackles this season.
New RT Jawaan Taylor could provide an upgrade, while Donovan Smith of former Buccaneers may prove difficult due to a disappointing 2022 season. Mahomes’ blindside may be susceptible against the young, rising Detroit Lions pass rush. Should their offense falter in this contest, Smith is likely responsible for it.
Isiah Pacheco had double-digit carries in 10 of his final 12 games last season – including playoffs.
Jerick McKinnon will likely remain in his pass-heavy role from last season; remembering that Detroit allowed running backs the fewest receiving yards per game in 2022 is also essential here.
Last season, the Lions allowed opponents’ wide receivers to gain the second-highest average receiving yards per game against them. They were particularly vulnerable in the slot position.
Mahomes was named last season’s MVP despite one of football’s least impressive wide receiver groups; Kansas City still lacks a clear star at wide receiver, meaning six Chiefs receivers may likely see targets against Detroit.
Skyy Moore should experience significant role growth during his second season. Most of Moore’s workload should come from slot reps; Kadarius Toney may see some as well, although his playing time may be limited; Marquez Valdes-Scantling remains an unpredictable candidate who relies heavily on making long shots to achieve results.
The Chiefs allowed running backs to receive fourth-most receiving yards last season. That bodes well for David Montgomery but is even better for Detroit rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, an adept pass catcher who should enjoy making his mark early in his career against Kansas City in this matchup.
Kansas City won 14 games last year, and its defense did well against opposing wide receivers, yielding the 17th most receiving yards at that position. But their slot receiver defense was more vulnerable, giving up an average of 7 fantasy points per game against them.
St. Brown has become the go-to option in the Lions’ passing attack since Jameson Williams’ suspension; his usage is far superior.
Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond and Marvin Jones Jr. make up Detroit’s wide receiver trio. Reynolds had an 11.9 percent target share last season but put together three consecutive games with at least eight targets and 80 yards receiving.
Reynolds saw most of his production during stretches when St. Brown was out or playing through injury, with Jared Goff having long enjoyed their rapport as Lion and Ram players; yet Reynold’s usage for 2022 was limited outside a three-game span.
Raymond had an 11.3 per cent target share last season, though his usage was more consistent than Reynolds. Jones Jr. returns to Detroit from two years in Jacksonville as an excellent contested-receiver who can provide scoring in the red zone.
The Chiefs might win the game but a touchdown is too big a spread in this one. The Lions will throw the ball in the slot and to their running backs to keep this game close.
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