Bet This, Not That: How To Wager on the Ravens-Chiefs Season Opener

Jen Piacenti examines value bets for first game of the NFL season
Jan 28, 2024; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8)
Jan 28, 2024; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s edition of “Bet This, Not That, “ we examine creative ways to bet on the season opener.

In anticipation of the Wednesday, May 15th schedule release, the NFL has been dropping us little breadcrumbs along the way. Monday’s breadcrumb was arguably the most appetizing, as they announced that Week 1 would kick off with a season opener between the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens.

That’s right: Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes. I’m already pumped up. Of course, there are endless storylines to accompany this one.   

Lamar is the reigning NFL MVP, and Mahomes is the reigning Super Bowl MVP. Both Jackson and Mahomes have won the NFL MVP twice. Patrick Mahomes has won Super Bowl MVP three times.

Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates
Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In their head-to-head matchups, Mahomes comes out on top. Mahomes is 4-1 in his career vs. Jackson and the Ravens.  

Most recently, the Chiefs pulled off an upset win against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game on their way to the Super Bowl. The 17-10 final score is the only time these two teams’ matchups went under the posted game total in Las Vegas. A two-and-a-half-year gap existed between that AFC Championship game and their previous matchup. That gap gives me pause when looking at the career matchup data. These two teams—and players—feel very different now than they did in 2018.

The Ravens went 13-4 last season, while the Chiefs went 11-6.

Lamar Jackson looks trim and is even leaner than his rookie season. That bodes well for Jackson’s speed and ability to slip through defenses. Throw in Derrick Henry as a threat in the run game and a healthy Mark Andrews as Lamar’s favorite receiving weapon next to Zay Flowers and there’s a lot of optimism for this offense. 

The Chiefs offense is also looking in shape with Travis Kelce returning on a two-year deal, the addition of Marquise Brown in free agency, and the addition of deep-threat Xavier Worthy in the NFL Draft. Both Rashee Rice and Isiah Pacheco also had breakout seasons in 2023, though there is some question as to whether Rice’s off-field issues may prevent him from playing in this matchup.

Both defenses were elite in 2023, with the Ravens allowing only 16.8 points and the Chiefs allowing only 17.3 points per game during the regular season. 

So, where does that leave us? With a close game. 

If you bet the Chiefs on the moneyline, the payout is -155 at DraftKings Sportsbook. That’s not a lot of value.

If you choose to bet on the Ravens, the payout is +130, and that value looks far better to me.

But since this is the second in our “Bet This, Not That” series, let’s see if we can find a creative way to lock in some value. 

If you want to back the Chiefs, consider betting by the winning margin. If the Chiefs win by a margin of 1-6 points, your return is +290. You will receive nearly three times your investment if the Chiefs win by three and cover the spread, win by one, or win by less than a seven-point margin. In a game with a spread of -3, I like this angle.

Or, even better, if you want to bet on the Ravens, instead of betting them straight up for +130, consider betting on their winning margin being between 1-6 points for +360. After all, in the only game the Ravens won, the final score was 36-35. I can see the Ravens winning, but it’s hard to see them winning in a blowout.

Of course, if one team blows out the other, we will lose our 1-6 point margin bet, but I’m willing to take the calculated risk for the payout. 

Bet This: Chiefs to win by 1-6 points (+290), Ravens to win by 1-6 points (+360)

Not That: Chiefs moneyline (-155)

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Jennifer Piacenti


In addition to being a fantasy sports and betting analyst at Sports Illustrated, Jennifer is a radio host for Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, and she hosts her own podcast, “Waiver Wired” on the Extra Points podcast network. Jennifer has been nominated for multiple FSWA awards for her NFL DFS video series. She’s a Scott Fish Bowl Finalist, and she finished third overall in the 2021 NFFC post-season mini. Jennifer is also a featured expert on MLB Network’s “Bettor’s Eye,” and a member of the esteemed Tout Wars, the fantasy baseball battle of the experts.