By Bill Speros | | 20 mins
NFL Week 1 Picks, Betting Predictions & Best Odds To Back
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The NFL betting season is underway – even though play does not begin until September 8th. 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 1-point favorites at online betting sites. The game is close to a pick’em, with each team fetching -110 odds on the moneyline. The total is a gracious 52 points.
The Rams beat the Bengals in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi in February. Matt Stafford 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. 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. There are 10 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.
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. on Sunday. The marquee 4:25 p.m. games have the Packers visiting NFC North rival Minnesota and the Raiders facing off against the host Chargers.
Now it’s on to our Week 1 NFL picks:
NFL 2022-23 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.
Best Bet: 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.
Best Bet: Jets Moneyline at +165 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. 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?
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 and veteran journeyman Mitch Trubisky.
Best Bet: Bengals -6.5 at -110 with DraftKings
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. 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, LB Foye Oluokun from the Falcons and CB Darious Williams from the Rams. Trevor Lawrence could have the same sort of sophomore success Burrow enjoyed last year. The Commanders finally have a name.
Best Bet: Jaguars +4 at -110 with DraftKings
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. (Fox)
The 49ers, Deebo Samuel, and Jimmy Garoppolo remain stuck with each other – at least as of this writing. 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. Samuel and Jimmy G. were named in multiple trade rumors yet remain. Garoppolo continues to heal from offseason shoulder surgery and could well be moved once he is deemed fully healthy.
Best Bet: 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. 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.
Best Bet: Colts -7.5 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 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. 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.
Best Bet: Patriots +3 at -110 with DraftKings
Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. (CBS)
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. While Watson may be clear from a criminal perspective, he could still land on the Commissioner’s Except List. Watson sat all last season with Houston.
The Panthers are another Week 1 home underdog, thanks in large part to their uncertainty at quarterback. Sam Darnold remains the starter by default. The Panthers took Matt Carrol out of Ole Miss in the third round of the draft, eschewing a potential trade for Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield in the process.
Best Bet: Over 42.5 points at -110 with DraftKings
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 back 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.
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. 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 3 picks. The Titans still boast Derrick Henry as the centerpiece of their offense. This game points to being an ugly, low-scoring affair.
Best Bet: Under 44 Points at -110 with DraftKings
Las Vegas Raiders at LA Chargers, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
The AFC West is loaded this season. The Raiders hired Josh McDaniels has 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. This total seems a bit too high for Week 1, but we’re going with the Silver and Black on the road.
Best Bet: Raiders +4 at -110 with DraftKings
Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Patrick Mahomes II no longer has Tyreek 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. The Cardinals have been wrestling with the status of QB Kyler Murray, whose agent fired off a letter that all but demanded a trade early in the offseason. Cooler heads have prevailed, and Murray appears to be situated in Arizona for the foreseeable future. The Chiefs struggled early against the line in 2021 and at one point last year were 4-15 ATS in their previous 19 games.
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-season field goal. Tom Brady is back after a brief retirement, along with most of the big names on the Bucs. Rob Gronkowski is expected to return to the tight end spot sometime before the season begins.
The Cowboys, too, 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.
Best Bet: Cowboys +2.5 at -110 with DraftKings
Monday, Sept. 12
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
This game marks 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' win over/under 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 Back QB coach Nathaniel Hackett taking over for Vic Fangio.
Best Bet: Broncos -4 at -110 with DraftKings