The best defensive player on the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs is tackle Chris Jones. The best non-quarterback offensive player on the Chiefs is tight end Travis Kelce. Both come off one of the best seasons ever for a player at their position in the NFL, but neither may play Thursday when the Chiefs host the Detroit Lions in the Kickoff Game. With Kelce now iffy with a knee injury, the Chiefs have dropped from -6.5 to -5 and the total from a high of 54.5 to 53.
Including playoffs, #ChiefsKingdom City has played a total of 130 games since Kelce and Jones became teammates in 2016. Thursday might be the first time the Chiefs play without both. Jones almost surely is out as he remains away from the team looking for a contract extension.
Last year, Jones was Top 5 in the NFL in pressures, quarterback hits and sacks. His 15.5 sacks were tied for the sixth most by a defensive tackle in history. In the AFC title game win over Cincinnati, Jones was a one-man wrecking crew with 10 pressures and two sacks of Joe Burrow.
Kelce is a lock for Canton someday as an eight-time Pro Bowler and seven-time All-Pro. Last year, he set career highs with 110 receptions (tied for second most for an NFL tight end all time), 1,338 yards and 12 TDs – Kelce’s seventh straight 1,000-yard season. No other tight end in history has seven 1,000-yard seasons, much less in a row. The 33-year-old added four TD catches in the playoffs, with at least one in each game.
Alas, Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee in practice Tuesday and is now in question, although the good news via the NFL Network is that it’s not believed to be a long-term injury. The team will wait for swelling to go down and go from there, but obviously this isn’t ideal two days before kickoff.
Kelce has not missed a game due to injury since his 2013 rookie season but has missed a few for other reasons (rest, COVID) since then. The No. 2 tight end on the KC depth chart is Noah Gray, who has 35 catches for 335 yards and two scores in his first two NFL seasons.
Kansas City carries an NFL-best eight-game Week 1 winning streak into Thursday.