Week 1 Picks: NFL Predictions for Buccaneers-Vikings, Titans-Saints, 2 More Early Games

Week 1 Picks: NFL Predictions for Buccaneers-Vikings, Titans-Saints, 2 More Early Games article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Derrick Henry (left) and Nick Chubb (right).

Follow Chris Raybon in the Action App to get all his betting picks.

Week 1 Picks

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our NFL betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos in the four matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
1 p.m.
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1 p.m.
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Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NFL Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Titans vs. Saints

Sunday, Sept. 10
1 p.m. ET
Titans +3 | Bet to +2

The Titans enter the 2023 season undervalued after finishing 2022 on an 0-7 losing streak due to rotten injury and one-score luck. The Saints enter the season overvalued due to the acquisition of Derek Carr and playing in a weak division.

Tennessee’s defense, healthy after enduring the most adjusted games lost in the league last season, should be able to slow down Carr, who is known to struggle out of the gate in a new system. His four worst seasons in the NFL – in terms of yards per attempt, completion percentage and passer rating – have all come in his first year in a new system, and he’s gone 1-3 in Week 1 of those seasons, with an Adjusted Yard Per Attempt mark below 6.0 in three of those four seasons.

Led by Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry, the Titans have one of the best front sevens in the league. They should be able to generate interior pressure on a Saints interior line that had no starter earn a PFF grade above the 36th percentile last season.

The Raiders’ interior line struggled last season, and it led to Carr posting the lowest completion rate (60.8%) since his rookie season and highest interception rate of his career (2.8%). Carr likely won’t be aided by as strong of a running game as last year, either, given that the Titans finished No. 1 in run-defense DVOA. The Saints are missing Alvin Kamara and this is Jamaal Williams’ first game running behind this line.

Offensively, the Titans’ main concern is at right tackle, which should not be much of an issue against a Saints defense that ranked 29th in pressure rate (17.5%) and lost Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata and Kaden Elliss this offseason.

As an underdog, Mike Vrabel has led the Titans to a record of 20-19 (51%) straight up (SU) and 23-15-1 (61%) against the spread (ATS). As an underdog of at least three points, the Titans are 22-9-1 (71%) ATS under Vrabel.

Meanwhile, Dennis Allen 15-38 (28%) SU, 21-31-1 (40%) ATS and 4-8 (33%) ATS as a favorite.

Browns vs. Bengals

Sunday, Sept. 10
1 p.m. ET
Browns +2 | Bet to +1

There are only a couple of spots where the newly minted highest-paid quarterback in NFL history, Joe Burrow, struggles, and both apply in this game.

  • Early in the season: Burrow is 1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS in first two weeks of season.
  • In Cleveland: Burrow is 0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS at Cleveland Browns Stadium, including a 32-13 loss last season.

Burrow may again struggle out of the gate after missing all of August with a calf injury that put his Week 1 status in doubt at one point. We saw Burrow struggle to knock off the rust last season after he missed time due to an appendix surgery, leading to an 0-2 start in which the Bengals offense failed to top 20 points.

As is the case with most elite quarterbacks, the best way to limit Burrow is by generating pressure. Last season, Burrow averaged a 71.6% completion rate, 7.6 yards per attempt and a 104.3 passer rating from a clean pocket, but a 54.7% completion rate, 6.3 yards per attempt and a 86.0 passer rating under pressure.

The Browns sacked Burrow five times in Cleveland last season and should be able to generate even more pressure after signing Za’Darius Smith (10.0 sacks last season) to complement Myles Garrett (16.0). Cleveland also has one of the best cornerback trios in the league in Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson Jr., and Greg Newsome II, which is obviously essential when taking on the likes of Jamarr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.

The Browns defense should benefit from the hiring of Jim Schwartz to replace Joe Woods at defensive coordinator, and the signing of Dalvin Tomlinson to shore up their run defense.

Offensively, the Browns have one of the top offensive lines in football, a strong group of skill-position players that got faster with the additions of Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin, and a quarterback in Deshaun Watson who should be closer to his old self after knocking the cobwebs off in a six-game stint at the end of last season.

The Bengals secondary could struggle somewhat out of the gate with safety Jessie Bates III departing for the Falcons and No. 1 cornerback Chidobe Awuzie returning from a torn ACL.

Per our Action Labs data, Week 1 Divisional dogs that missed the prior postseason are 55-23-2 (71%) ATS since 2005.

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Texans vs. Ravens

Sunday, Sept. 10
1 p.m. ET
Texans +9.5

The Texans have undergone a shift in philosophy and are no longer tanking after drafting quarterback C.J. Stroud No. 2 overall. They have added veterans on both sides of the ball – such as Shaq Mason, Dalton Schultz, Sheldon Rankins and Denzel Perryman – which should result in a much more competitive team under new head coach DeMeco Ryans,

The run defense should be a lot better under Ryans. No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson's 86.7 PFF run defense grade led all edge defenders in the Power 5. Anderson also has the speed to chase around Lamar Jackson, while Rankins and Perryman are among the best run defenders in the league at their respective positions.

The Ravens could also go through some growing pains early on in the new scheme of new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. And don’t forget that Ryans was part of the staff for a 49ers defense that held Jackson to his fewest passing yards (105) and yards per attempt (4.57) in his 2019 MVP season.

Baltimore’s defense won’t be in peak form without cornerback Marlon Jumphrey (foot) and a cornerback group behind him that missed a lot of time in camp. Stroud will be protected by an elite left tackle in Laremy Tunsil and won’t be asked to do too much, but the fact there’s no film of this offense for the Ravens to go off of could also work in Houston’s favor, as one of the Ravens’ biggest edges under John Harbaugh is their ability to prepare and game plan for the opposition.

I think Ryans was one of the better hires and expect the Texans to be a tough out this season even if they don’t end up winning many games.

According to our Action Labs data, rookie head coaches in their first road game are 56-39-2 (58%) ATS. Meanwhile, Jackson is a perfect 5-0 ATS as a dog, but 5-14 (26%) ATS as a favorite over the past two seasons, including 1-11 (8%) when favored by more than three points. And since 2006, Week 1 underdogs of more than six points are 46-26 (63%) ATS.

Buccaneers vs. Vikings

Sunday, Sept. 10
1 p.m. ET
Buccaneers +5.5

By Chris Raybon

Despite finishing 13-4 last season, Minnesota was never dominant, winning only two games by more than one score. This has been a trend for three seasons and counting, with only 5-of-28 (18%) wins since 2020 coming by more than one possession.

All of the Vikings' expected win totals say their true performance level was that of a sub-.500 team. Their Pythagorean win total was 8.4, their win total adjusted for one-score luck was 8 and their estimated win total by DVOA was 6.3. They got worse in the offseason, losing top-tier talents like Dalvin Cook, Dalvin Tomlinson, Za’Darius Smith and Patrick Peterson.

The way to beat Baker Mayfield is to get pressure with a four-man rush rather than blitzing. This is something the Vikings will struggle to do so after finishing 23rd in pressure rate (19.5%) a season ago. Their cornerback group is also a major concern and they could struggle to match up with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.

It's a small sample, but it's promising that Mayfield led the Rams offense to a slightly better DVOA (-2.8%) over the final five weeks than Kirk Cousins did with Minnesota (-3.1%) over the entire season. Mayfield has some familiarity with the system of new offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who helped Geno Smith turn around his career with the Seahawks last season.

The Bucs defense has finished between fifth and 13th in points, yards and DVOA in each of the past three seasons. They should be able to hold their own against a Vikings offense that ranked 20th in DVOA last season despite good health and an all-time great season from Justin Jefferson.

Per our Action Labs data, Week 1 road underdogs that did not make the prior postseason are 45-28-2 (63%) since 2012, covering by 3.7 points per game.

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