Travis Kelce injury shifts Lions vs. Chiefs odds; NFL, CFB big bets, sharp action


If you thought last weekend was an outstanding time to be a football bettor – and it was – wait till you get a load of this weekend. 

Not only are Week 2 college football odds on the board, including massive clashes featuring TexasAlabama and Nebraska vs. Colorado, but the NFL is also back.

And without question, no matter how good college football is, the NFL drives America’s sports betting bus.

Let’s kick off this week’s NFL and college football betting nuggets with the opening game of the NFL season.

Chief Concern

Tuesday brought to light a concerning matter for potential Kansas City Chiefs backers. Star tight end Travis Kelce has a hyperextended knee and is questionable for the big Thursday Night Football opener against the visiting Detroit Lions.

Prior to that news, most sportsbooks had the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs as favorites of 6.5/7 points. Now, the line is down to -4.5.

“Everyone has an eye peeled for news on the Kelce injury. The current line seems like it’s more likely he will play than not,” said Chris Fargis, senior director of trading risk for Fanatics Sportsbook.

As of Wednesday night, Chiefs bettors seem unfazed by the news, particularly on the moneyline, currently Chiefs -225/Lions +185.

“Customers are piling into Chiefs moneyline bets. We’re seeing about six times the Chiefs bets vs. the Lions on the moneyline,” Fargis said. “Tons of parlays for the weekend are leading off with Chiefs moneyline on Thursday. The book needs the Lions here, for sure.”

With that moneyline play – be it on straight bets or parlays – the Lions simply covering the 4.5-point spread likely isn’t enough for oddsmakers. Fanatics and many others will be rooting for an outright Detroit upset.

Travis Kelce believed to have avoided long-term knee injury

Dianna Russini joins Colin Cowherd on the Herd to discuss the latest news on Travis Kelce’s hyperextended knee injury.

The Sharp Side

Circa Sports actually got as low as Chiefs -4 in the wake of the Kelce news. That was more than enough for professional bettor Randy McKay to get involved on the home favorite.

“I just bet Chiefs -4,” McKay said Wednesday. “I believe this is too much of an overreaction, with Kelce and defensive lineman Chris Jones already factored in.”

Jones is in a protracted contract holdout. He said Wednesday he could play Thursday if a deal gets done, but that seems unlikely. And again, McKay feels Chiefs -4 is worth it, even if Kelce and Jones don’t play.

“I’m still not sold on whether the Dan Campbell regime can win a game in a big environment,” he said.

Other NFL plays for McKay:

– “I bet Pittsburgh +3, and that line dropped with all the 49ers‘ questions, with Nick Bosa and the health of QB Brock Purdy,” he said of a spread now at 49ers -2.5. “I like Under 41 as well because both offensive lines are middle-of-the-pack, going against two very good defenses. I could see a slobber-knocker here.” 

Purdy is coming back from elbow surgery, and Bosa just ended a holdout Wednesday by signing a five-year, $170 million extension.

– McKay said he also got on the Patriots +4.5 and +4 against the Eagles. “Philly not only lost the Super Bowl but lost both coordinators,” McKay said of offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, now head coaches of the Colts and Cardinals, respectively. “I could see Philly starting off slow this year.”

Back To School

Jumping to the college ranks, No. 11 Texas travels to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 3 Alabama in a monster matchup. BetMGM opened this game early in the summer, so it’s had a couple of months to percolate.

“It’s been dancing around ‘Bama -7 and -7.5 since opening,” BetMGM senior trader Cameron Drucker said, noting the Tide are -7 Wednesday night. “Not a ton of sharp action on this one quite yet. It seems like the public is all over the Crimson Tide.

“It’s looking like huge liability for us on ‘Bama. We will be rooting for Texas come Saturday.”

In another notable college tilt, No. 13 Oregon travels to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are coming off a stunning 35-33 double-overtime loss at Wyoming, where they were 14-point favorites. But sharp college football bettor Paul Stone – based in Texas – senses a rebound for Texas Tech, a 6.5-point home underdog to the Ducks.

“The South Plains can be tricky for out-of-town guests. Jones AT&T Stadium is an extremely underrated environment,” Stone said, while noting part of Saturday’s environment could be temperatures in the upper 90s. Stone pointed out that Texas Tech had two big home victories last season: 37-34 over Texas in double OT and 51-48 over Oklahoma in overtime. It was the first time in school history that the Red Raiders beat Texas and Oklahoma in the same season.

“Texas Tech has its back against the wall after last week’s misstep. I expect the Red Raiders to fire their best shot and defeat the Ducks outright,” Stone said.

That has Stone comfortable betting Tech +6.5 for Saturday’s 7 p.m. ET kickoff on FOX and the FOX Sports App.

2023 NFC North preview

FOX Sports Cowboys writer Dave Helman and NFC North writer Carmen Vitali preview the NFC North Division.

NFL Rocks on FOX

The Green Bay Packers visit the Chicago Bears in FOX’s Game of the Week at 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday. With QB Aaron Rodgers no longer under center for the Packers, the Bears are a rare favorite in this NFC North rivalry.

Chicago opened -2.5 back in May and even briefly touched -3 at some books. However, the Bears are down to -1.5 at Fanatics Sportsbook, which is seeing two-way action.

“Very even betting across these two sides. Customers are not showing a preference early in the week,” Fargis said, before moving on to a player prop that’s definitely creating liability. “Justin Fields to score a touchdown is by far the most popular prop, currently +140. I would say the public is buying into him.”

Fargis also pointed out two more matchups in the NFL Week 1 odds market:

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants: “Sixty percent of the moneyline handle is on the Cowboys on the road on Sunday night. Spread and total betting has been balanced so far. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one stay pretty balanced, with customers seeing good reasons to bet both teams in Week 1 prime time.” The Cowboys are -3.5 (even) on the spread and -180 (bet $10 to win $15.56 total) on the moneyline. The Over/Under total is at 46.5 points for Sunday Night Football.

Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets: “From just a count of bets, there’s no preference on this one yet from customers. However, more money is coming in on the underdog Jets, on both the spread and moneyline.” Aaron Rodgers & Co. are 2.5-point home underdogs and are +120 on the moneyline. The total is at 46. “Customers are loving the Over [on] the total on this one, with three times more bets on Over than Under. They’re hoping for a high-scoring affair on Monday night.”

I Like Big Bets and I Cannot Lie

OK, let’s wrap up this piece with notable big bets. Here are a couple from Caesars Sports:

– $139,000 on Chiefs moneyline -278 vs. Lions. To profit $50,000, for a total payout of $189,000.

– $10,000 on Ravens +1200 to win the AFC. To profit $120,000, for a total payout of $130,000.

Meanwhile, BetMGM took a $10,000 bet on Detroit +2200 to win the Super Bowl. That would profit $220,000, for a total payout of $230,000.

Then there’s this gem at BetMGM, wagering a little to make a lot on two big long shots: $100 on Arizona to beat the Houston Texas in the Super Bowl, at odds of 10,000/1 (+1000000). To win $1 million.

As for me, with the NFL season kicking off, I’ll have the usual bet on my Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl. I can get Denver +6000 (60/1) at The SuperBook. It’s unlikely to happen, but if it does, that’s a lot of #ChilisMoney.

Enjoy the big confluence of NFL and college football betting this weekend.

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas


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