By Bill Speros | | 23 mins
NFL Week 1 Picks, Betting Predictions & Best Bets To Back
The NFL betting season is underway – even though play does not begin until Sept. 8. The offseason saw a cataclysmic change with 10 new coaches, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson swapping conferences, and the return of Tom Brady after a 40-day “retirement.”
The 272-game NFL regular season run begins with the Super Bowl champion LA Rams playing host to the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California in the Thursday night opener. The Rams are 2-point underdogs at online betting sites, having swung from 1-point favorites in late July. That move was prompted by concern over Matthew Stafford's elbow injury. The total is 51.5, while the Rams are +110 on the moneyline and the Bills are -130.
The Rams beat the Bengals in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi in February. Stafford, assuming the elbow issue can be managed, is back with all-universe wide receiver Cooper Kupp. But the Rams suffered significant losses in the offseason.
Linebacker Von Miller will watch the Rams raise their title banner from the Bills sideline after signing with Buffalo. WR Odell Beckham Jr., who tore his ACL in the Super Bowl, remains unsigned as a free agent. He may yet return to the Rams but will miss much of the early season. And four-time Pro Bowl lineman Andrew Whitworth retired after playing 18 seasons in the NFL and earning a long-elusive Super Bowl ring.
The Bills saw their playoff run cut short in the Divisional Round by the Chiefs. In that game, 25 points were scored in the final 3 minutes of regulation before the Chiefs won the OT coin toss (never call tails, Josh Allen) and the game, 42-36. That outcome triggered an NFL rule change that guarantees both teams one possession in overtime, even if the first team with the ball scores a touchdown.
Underdogs Hold Early-Season Edge
Last year, the underdogs took a sizable lead early in the season when it came to covering ATS. Oddsmakers at betting apps are keeping things tight early in the 2022-23 season. Only one game on the Week 1 schedule carries a line greater than 7 points (Colts -7.5 against Texans). There are 11 games with home underdogs.
Miller is not the only big-name player who is starting the new season against his old team. Wilson and the Broncos visit Seattle on Monday night in Week 1. Wilson played for the Seahawks for 13 seasons before he was dealt to the Broncos in a QB swap.
The NFL pushed Wilson’s return to Seattle to the top of the schedule pile because of concerns that the Seahawks could be among the worst teams in the NFC and Wilson’s time in Seattle will be the focus of much of the offseason hype. Wilson's Broncos are four-point favorites over the Seahawks.
The RedZone Octo-Box won’t be enough for the early slate, as there are nine games in Week 1 that begin at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The marquee 4:25 p.m. ET games have the Packers visiting NFC North rival Minnesota and the Raiders facing off against the host Chargers. We can't wait.
Now it’s on to our Week 1 NFL picks to back on your sports betting app:
NFL 2022 Season Week 1 Picks
Thursday, Sept. 8
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
The “Battle of the Seans” serves as the NFL season-opener and a potential Super Bowl 57 preview. Sean McVay and Sean McDermott will determine “Sean” coaching bragging rights now that Sean Payton has stepped aside in New Orleans.
Things only get tougher for the Rams. In addition to the season-opener against the Bills, the Rams have Dallas at home and return to Tampa Bay, where they eliminated the Bucs in the playoffs last year. The Rams catch a break in terms of having the full offseason to prepare for the Bills, but this game has all the makings of a big-time letdown for the home team. You've missed your chance to grab the Bills as underdogs - at one point they were +1 but they're now -2 on the spread.
Best Bet: We locked in several weeks ago with the Bills +1 at -115 with DraftKings
Sunday, Sept. 11
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)
The Jets begin the season in a familiar place – as a home underdog. Last season, Gang Green went 4-13 overall but managed to go +2 ATS. Four of the Jets' six covers came at home. Zach Wilson enters his second season and hopes to survive it intact. Week 1 is usually the closest the NFL gets to opposite world, so keep an eye on the Jets here to win this one outright, once again ruining their chance for the first overall pick. Wilson has legit weapons at receiver, tight end and running back (including second-round draft pick Breece Hall) after a busy offseason, so no excuses.
This line has moved significantly toward Baltimore in recent weeks, given the positive news concerning Lamar Jackson, who appears headed to free agency after this season unless a contract can be worked out.
Best Bet: Jets Moneyline at +205 with DraftKings
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. (FOX)
The Lions were the surprising betting story of the 2021-22 regular season. Detroit went 11-6 ATS despite winning only three games outright. Both teams have quarterbacks who have the potential to be overwhelmed by the panoply of weapons at their disposal. The Lions drafted Alabama WR Jameson Williams and signed D.J. Chark this offseason. They join Amon-Ra St. Brown, tight end T.J. Hockenson, and running back D’Andre Swift as potential targets for Jared Goff, although Williams will likely miss Week 1 after tearing his ACL in the National Championship game against Georgia.
In Philly, the Eagles landed WR A.J. Brown (via trade from Tennessee) to join WR DeVonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert. Will Jalen Hurts flourish or flounder? Take the Lions to cover. This also has the markings of a Week 1 game that will be played in opposite land. Later in the season, the Eagles would win this one by 2 TDs.
Best Bet: Lions +4 at -110 with DraftKings
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. (CBS)
These two long-time rivals open the season against each other for the first-time ever in 2022. Their long-time historic roles are reversed this time. The Bengals are defending AFC North and AFC champions. QB Joe Burrow took a beating last season but nearly won the Super Bowl in just his second season. The Bengals bolstered their offensive line to make sure Burrow will still be ambulatory at age 30.
The Steelers, meanwhile, begin the season without QB Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since 2003. Right now, their starting QB is . . . to be determined between rookie Kenny Pickett out of Pitt, veteran journeyman Mitch Trubisky and long-time backup Mason Rudolph. The early camp chatter has the Steelers leaning Trubisky. By all accounts, Pickett has struggled.
Best Bet: Bengals -6.5 at -110 with SugarHouse
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. (FOX)
This game includes one of the ten new head coaches in the NFL this season. Former Raiders head coach and Saints DC Dennis Allen is the new boss in New Orleans after Payton stepped down. Jameis Winston is back as the starting QB for the Saints. Winston tore his ACL in the Saints' win over Tampa Bay last Halloween. The Saints also should have Michael Thomas back from a long-term ankle injury. He's been looking sharp in training camp. Matt Ryan was traded by the Falcons to Indianapolis after 14 seasons in the ATL. Marcus Mariota is the new starting QB in Atlanta. Yikes.
Best Bet: Under 42 points at -110 with DraftKings
Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders, 1 p.m. (CBS)
New head coach Doug Pederson should bring leadership, maturity and stability to the Jaguars organization following the Urban Meyer Error. The Jaguars have earned the first pick in the last two NFL drafts. The Jaguars spent heavily in free agency, bringing in tight end Evan Engram from the Giants, WR Christian Kirk from the Cardinals, LB Foye Oluokun from the Falcons and CB Darious Williams from the Rams. They selected edge rusher Travon Walker with the first pick. Trevor Lawrence could have the same sort of sophomore success Burrow enjoyed last year. The Commanders finally have a name. They also have Carson Wentz at QB.
Best Bet: Jaguars +4 at -110 at PointsBet
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. (FOX)
The 49ers have given Jimmy Garoppolo permission to seek a trade. Garoppolo could well be back with his former teammate Tom Brady when the season begins. Trey Lance will be the starter for San Fran. The Bears hired Matt Eberfus as head coach. He brought in a new offensive and defensive coordinator. The 49ers reached the NFC title game before blowing a 10-point lead to the Rams. Deebo Samuel has agreed a new deal to remain by the Bay.
Considering the Niners will be getting Lance settled and Bears QB Justin Fields has nobody to throw to, we're liking the Under here.
Best Bet: Locked In Under 42.5 points at -110 with DraftKings
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. (CBS)
This is the biggest line of Week 1 for a reason. The Colts could make a run at the AFC title. The Texans are on their way to the No. 1 pick in the draft. Matt Ryan makes his first start for the Colts against perhaps the worst team in the conference, if not the entire league. The Texans hired Lovie Smith to be their head coach after dumping David Culley.
The Colts are primed to contend in the AFC South with Ryan under center. The Texans shipped QB Deshaun Watson to the Browns after a grand jury declined to indict Watson in relation to multiple civil sexual assault allegations. Second-year QB Davis Mills has emerged as the starter in Houston – for now. We locked in Indy at -7.5 early in the summer.
Best Bet: Colts -8 at -110 with DraftKings
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel makes his NFL debut against Bill Belichick, who has eight Super Bowl rings and 321 victories as a head coach. No one is sure who will be calling the plays, but Patriots' second-year QB Mac Jones has a new toy in former Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. The Dolphins swept New England last year but the Patriots historically have enjoyed success playing in Miami early in the season. Mac Jones was stellar during OTAs, and has leaned out and added muscle this offseason.
The Dolphins are all-in with Tua Tagovailoa at QB. That stability should help, along with the acquisition of Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs. The Dolphins were rattled this offseason when fired coach Brian Flores filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the team and NFL, and alleged that owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him extra to lose games in 2019. With four months to prepare, Belichick should have the edge here. We like the Pats and the points. We locked them in at +3 at DraftKings earlier in the summer.
Best Bet: Patriots +2.5 at -110 with BetMGM
Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. (CBS)
How about this for an opportunity at immediate revenge? Assuming he beats out Sam Darnold for the starting QB gig, Baker Mayfield will be leading the Panthers against his old team in Week 1. Expect fireworks.
The Browns guaranteed Deshaun Watson $200 million and are all-in on him as the future of their franchise, even though his playing status remains uncertain. They then traded Mayfield to the Panthers. While Watson may be clear from a criminal perspective, he could still land on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. Watson sat all last season with Houston and has been given a six-game suspension this upcoming season. But he might sit again this year if Goodell has his way: The NFL is appealing that suspension, arguing it's too lenient. It looks likely to be Jacoby Brissett suiting up at QB in Week 1 for Cleveland.
Best Bet: Over 42 points at -110 with SugarHouse
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
Look for FOX's Kevin Burkhardt to make his debut as their new lead NFL announcer in this game. Two-time defending NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers is back. But A-Rod is missing his favorite target in Davante Adams, who hit the jackpot with a trade to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Packers still have running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The Vikings will be breaking in a new coach in Kevin O’Connell and sit as a slight home underdog. Matt LaFleur has won 39 of his first 49 starts as an NFL head coach and should have the Packers ready. We jumped on Green Bay when they were 1.5-point favorites.
Best Bet: Packers -1.5 at -110 with DraftKings
New York Giants at Tennessee Titans, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Giants hired former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as head coach. Daboll is sticking with Daniel Jones at QB. Kadarius Toney has been lighting up camp and rookie Wan'Dale Robinson looks locked in for the slot role. The Titans finished with the best record in the AFC but lost at home to Cincinnati 19-16 in the Divisional round after QB Ryan Tannehill threw three picks. The Titans still boast Derrick Henry as the centerpiece of their offense, but traded away AJ Brown to the Eagles. This game points to being an ugly, low-scoring affair.
Best Bet: Under 44 Points at -110 with BetMGM
Las Vegas Raiders at LA Chargers, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
The AFC West is loaded this season. The Raiders hired Josh McDaniels as their new head coach, swiping the long-time Patriots offensive coordinator. Raiders QB Derek Carr has his former Fresno State teammate Adams as a new No. 1 target. The Raiders also added Chandler Jones, Demarcus Robinson and Bilal Nichols via free agency. The Chargers bring back most of their key players and look to take the next step and reach the postseason with Justin Herbert under center. This total seems a bit too high for Week 1, but we’re going with the Silver and Black on the road and grabbed them at +4 when this line was set.
Best Bet: Raiders +3.5 at -110 with BetMGM
Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Patrick Mahomes II no longer has Hill waiting at the receiving end of his long throws. The Chiefs will try to make up the loss of Hill with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster, plus copious targets for Travis Kelce. The Cardinals and QB Kyler Murray finally settled on a long-term deal after an offseason of contract strife. The Chiefs struggled early against the line in 2021 and at one point last year were 4-15 ATS. But we like the under here given the usual issues in Week 1, plus the absence of DeAndre Hopkins through suspension.
Best Bet: Under 53 points at -110 with DraftKings
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. (NBC)
These two teams began the 2021 season at Tampa Bay in a game won by the Buccaneers 31-29 on a last-second field goal. Tom Brady is back after a brief retirement, along with most of the big names on the Bucs. But Rob Gronkowski is not one of them after the future Hall of Fame tight end announced his retirement. The Bucs replaced Gronk with Kyle Rudolph at the top tight end spot.
The Cowboys are mostly back intact. The biggest challenge for the Cowboys remains keeping Dak Prescott healthy. It’s rare that the Cowboys are home underdogs. Dallas had the best record in the NFL last year ATS, going 13-5 including the playoffs. The Bucs, meanwhile, absorbed significant amounts of cash from the betting public and covered just ten times despite winning 14 games. So, for that reason, we like Dallas here.
Best Bet: Cowboys +2.5 at -110 with SugarHouse
Monday, Sept. 12
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
This game marks the Monday Night Football debut of announcer Joe Buck and play-by-play analyst Troy Aikman, both of whom left FOX to join ABC/ESPN. Russell Wilson’s homecoming will be the other overriding storyline heading into this game. The Broncos and Seahawks exchanged quarterbacks in the offseason, with Wilson leaving Seattle after 11 seasons. The Seahawks' over/under win total is just 6 games.
The Broncos are solid on both sides of the ball. By the way, the Broncos, too, changed coaches in the offseason with former Green Bay QB coach Nathaniel Hackett taking over for Vic Fangio. It is difficult to think this will be anything other than a Broncos rout. We jumped on Denver when the line was -4.
Best Bet: Broncos -4.5 at -110 with DraftKings