Pity the poor folks in London. Last week they were subjected to Bills-Jaguars & this week is even worse: Lions vs. Chiefs, the final overseas game in 2015. K.C. is -5 NFL odds with a total of 46.
Will Offensive Shakeup Wake Up Lions?
If the 2016 NFL Draft was held today -- hint: it's not -- then the Lions would have the No. 1 overall pick as they are 1-6, the only team in the NFL with six losses. The last time they had the top pick was in 2009 when they took Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. Frankly, the Lions are lucky to have that one victory as they should have lost Week 6 at home against Chicago but got a few breaks, including a very iffy call by the referees that went the Lions' way. Detroit won it 37-34 in overtime.
The Lions come off a Week 7 28-19 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings, who completed the season sweep. The Vikes hadn't won an NFC North road game in three years. Detroit jumped out to a 14-3 first-quarter lead on two Stafford touchdown passes but the offense didn't do much after that. Stafford was sacked a season-high seven times. He had X-rays on his left hand on Monday but those were negative so he should be fine for this one.
Might the Lions fire coach Jim Caldwell if they lose this game in a big way? Remember that the Raiders fired Dennis Allen last year after a loss in London (and ahead of bye week) and the Miami Dolphins did the same thing earlier this year. The Detroit fan base has been clamoring for Caldwell to make some changes to his staff, mainly taking play-calling duties for offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, but Caldwell had refused to do so and said so again Monday morning. Then later Monday, the team fired Lombardi, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and assistant offensive line coach Terry Heffernan. Someone named Jim Bob Cooter is the new offensive coordinator. That's awesome! He was the QBs coach.
Certainly one reason for the Lions' struggles this season is on Stafford. He's 12th in the NFL in yards per games at 267.0 but has thrown nine picks, which is tied with Andrew Luck for the second-most in the NFL. Stafford's rating of 86.8 is only 18th. Stafford's line isn't helping much as he ranks 11th in the league in sacks at 16. Detroit also stinks running the ball, ranking dead last at 68.0 yards per game. No. 1 running back Joique Bell has been hurt much of the year and has only 43 yards on 23 carries. Rookie Ameer Abdullah leads the team with only 222 rushing yards (Stafford, not exactly the most mobile guy, is second with 62).
The Detroit defense was the second-best in the NFL behind Seattle last season but lost star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to Miami in free agency. Suh hasn't done much with the Dolphins, but the Lions sure miss him as they rank 27th in total defense and 29th in scoring (28.6 ppg). The team feared the cornerback Rashean Mathis suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss but he has been cleared.
The Lions are 1-6 against the spread on NFL odds and 4-3 'over/under.'
Chiefs Not Much Better Than Lions
I would argue that Kansas City is the least talented offensive team in the NFL now that Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles is out for the season with a torn ACL -- he's the centerpiece of that unit. But the Chiefs (2-5) do come off a 23-13 home win over Pittsburgh on Sunday (K.C. also the home team in London). It obviously helped the Chiefs that the Steelers had to start third-string quarterback Landry Jones due to injuries.
Charles' former backup, Charcandrick West, had a big game vs. Pittsburgh with 22 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. Alex Smith completed 21-for-32 for 251 yards, and his TD pass to Chris Conley with 5:13 left was the clincher. K.C. forced Jones into three turnovers (two picks one fumble). The Chiefs played the Steelers without top receiver Jeremy Maclin due to a concussion. They expected Maclin to play, before deciding Sunday morning that he wasn't quite ready even though he passed through the NFL's concussion protocol. Presumably he will play this week. Maclin has 39 catches for 531 yards and a score. Conley got the start for Maclin.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid altered his offensive line before the Steelers game. Left tackle Donald Stephenson was benched. Former No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher flipped from right tackle to left guard Ben Grubbs and center Mitch Morse stayed in their spots, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif started at right guard and Jeff Allen at right tackle.
The Chiefs are 2-5 ATS on NFL picks and 4-3 O/U.
Detroit has won two straight vs. Kansas City. The last was Sept. 18, 2011, at Ford Field, a 48-3 Lions rout. That was the most lopsided win in franchise regular-season history. Stafford threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Calvin Johnson caught two of those scores. Matt Cassel was Kansas City's QB that day and was awful, completing 15-for-22 for 133 yards, three picks and a fumble. Charles suffered a torn ACL in his left knee early in that game.
NFL Free Picks: This game is like choosing between two ugly girls to take to prom. I'll take the points. Go 'UNDER' 46