Thursday, November 30 2023

All times ET

Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, NBC

If it’s Week 1, so I’m keeping it simple. I’m wagering on the Chiefs’ offense to score points. Kansas City has averaged 37.8 points in its five opening weekend games for Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. The team has scored a minimum of 33 and a maximum of 44 points in Week 1 over the past five seasons.

The reason for this success is Reid having months to game plan and the Chiefs’ offense being able to execute that plan perfectly. Kansas City’s offense might be the deepest it’s been in years. 

The team does not have a No. 1 receiver but has multiple players who can take on that role depending on the matchup in a given game. And the Chiefs’ offensive line is the best they’ve had in five seasons, which is remarkable considering all the winning they’ve done.

Detroit’s defense ranked 32nd in yards per play last season, allowing over six yards per snap. Not good. The Lions ranked 28th in points allowed per game (25.1). They made some adjustments to their personnel on defense, but it won’t gel enough to play well against the Chiefs. 

Kansas City’s offense will also need to score without holdout All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones helping their defense shut down the Lions. All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce hyperextended his knee in practice, and his status is uncertain for the opener. Despite that news, I like the Chiefs to take care of business in their season opener.

PICK: Chiefs team total Over 29.5 points

Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS

The Eagles return most of their core team that ripped through the NFC last season, only to lose close in the Super Bowl to the Chiefs. 

Philadelphia had to replace both coordinators, and I have questions about offensive execution in the first weekend with a new coordinator (Brian Johnson) against a Bill Belichick defense. 

The Patriots’ defense was fantastic last season, and I feel that point mostly went under the radar because of the team’s offensive issues. New England added defensive back Christian Gonzalez in the NFL Draft, and he should help the defense continue its success in 2023.

I’m higher on the Patriots than most because they hired an actual offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien. While it’s fair to note he’s an awful general manager, he’s been a good play-caller during his career. Whether being the head coach at Penn State or the Houston Texans, or the play-caller at Alabama, his offenses have been efficient and productive. 

New England’s offense will be far better with him calling plays for QB Mac Jones, who is entering Year 3. Remember, the Patriots made the playoffs in 2021 with a competent play-caller and Jones as a rookie running the huddle.

Lastly, the Super Bowl hangover is real, and the loser of that game has covered in only three of the past 10 opening weekend games. Philadelphia opening at New England is a terribly tough matchup for the runner-ups. I think the Pats cover.

PICK: Patriots (+3.5) to lose by fewer than 3.5 points (or win outright)

San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. Sunday, FOX and FOX Sports App

My favorite wager of the NFL weekend is the Steelers to cover against the 49ers.

Pittsburgh will have a much-improved offense this season with an offensive line coming into its own and, more importantly, a Year 2 jump from quarterback Kenny Pickett. Pickett had his moments last season where he popped; this preseason, he looked to remain on that track. 

The 49ers’ defense is one of the best in the league, and yes, Pickett will be tested. But the 49ers may be without Nick Bosa, who is holding out for a new contract. That would greatly benefit Pittsburgh’s offense.

My favorite part of this wager is the Steelers’ defense against the 49ers’ offense. San Francisco returns quarterback Brock Purdy from his injured elbow with an offensive line that’s good but not great. T.J. Watt against whoever gets the majority of reps at right tackle is an advantage for the Steelers. 

It appears Christian McCaffrey will be on a pitch count this season, which should also help the Steelers. You would think San Francisco will need all options 100% against this stout Pittsburgh defense, but we will take it.

I circled this game early; give me the Steelers.

PICK: Steelers (+2.5) to lose by fewer than 2.5 points (or win outright)

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.


Travis Kelce hyperextends knee, status uncertain for Week 1 vs. Lions | SPEAK


How will Wizards' offense run with Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma?

Check Also

Pro Sports Media

Trending Now