NFL Week 1 Picks: Odds, Bets for Packers vs Bears, Bills vs Jets, More
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen
The NFL makes its long-awaited return on Thursday Night Football with Lions vs. Chiefs. That game is the first of a full 16-game NFL Week 1 slate that includes Cowboys vs. Giants on Sunday Night Football and Bills vs. Jets on Monday Night Football.
With all that said, let's get into our NFL picks for Week 1.
Each week throughout the NFL season, I'll be highlighting my favorite angles to bet right away, potentially bet later or pass on entirely.
I used odds from FanDuel as of Tuesday morning for these picks.
|Week 1 Picks|
Jaguars vs. Colts
I'm lower than the market on both teams, and this is a high-variance contest because of the uncertainty on the Indianapolis side. Anthony Richardson showed flashes of poised pocket play in the preseason and the Colts should have good success using run-pass options and read-options concept with the offense immediately.
There will be problems though given how raw Richardson is. The Colts offensive line has major question marks and Richardson's underdeveloped accuracy will make passing downs a real challenge for the Colts. Jacksonville's defense has major holes — this is the same defense that allowed 389 pass yards to a solidly washed Matt Ryan in this same matchup in the same building last year.
Trevor Lawrence took a clear step forward in the second half of last season to power the Jaguars to a division title, but the defense will hold Jacksonville back from taking a real step into the AFC's elite.
The Colts are starting their seventh quarterback in the last seven season openers, and they've been notoriously slow starters. Indianapolis was 0-4-1 in Week 1 under Reich against the spread (ATS). Unless Indy somehow drifted to +6 or Jacksonville went back to -3, as it was briefly in the summer, I'm passing.
Cardinals vs. Commanders
Washington is going to be everyone's favorite survivor pick, and I don't necessarily blame them. Arizona is openly tanking.
Jonathan Gannon is the new meme coach of the NFL now that Nathaniel Hackett is gone. The Cardinals only have two quarterbacks on the active roster: Josh Dobbs and Clayton Tune. The defense is bereft of NFL talent.
Despite all of that, does anyone really want to lay seven points in an NFL game with Sam Howell? I certainly do not. I bet the under 40 and tracked it in the Action App a month ago, but this total is down to 38.5, and this is now the easiest pass on the board.
Verdict: Pass. If you want to lean into chaos, Arizona is a great moneyline play in Week 1. Remember the 1-15 Jaguars in 2020? Even they won on the road against Indianapolis, an eventual 11-win team, in Week 1. Week 1 is very high variance and even the bad teams don't quite know they're bad yet.
Panthers vs. Falcons
I thought we’d be able to bet Atlanta here at less than a field goal at home, which I’d have likely fired on. Frank Reich has never won a Week 1 game as a head coach from his time in Indianapolis, and a rookie QB won’t make that any easier.
I like the Falcons roster, but the lack of pass rush leaves the secondary exposed and -3.5 with unproven Desmond Ridder is too high for me.
Rams vs. Seahawks
I’m not expecting Cooper Kupp to play in this game, which likely means major success for Tyler Higbee over the middle of the field. He’s worth targeting in the prop market and should thrive over the middle of the field against a vulnerable Seattle defense in the middle of the field.
Otherwise, the Rams don’t have the offensive line to run on Seattle, but Los Angeles' defensive line remains disruptive enough to keep me away from playing Seattle at this number.
Raiders vs. Broncos
Is Russ truly cooked? We’re going to find out now that Sean Payton is in the fold.
I’m of the belief that his decline wasn’t just Nathaniel Hackett or the first year in a new system, but that Wilson is no longer able to execute his brand of quarterbacking with much more limited athleticism. His weaknesses remain and the strengths are no longer strengths to the same extent.
Denver is well poised to slow down a Las Vegas offense, so this should be another ugly divisional contest where it’s the 'dog or nothing for me.
Dolphins vs. Chargers
It’s hard to make a power rating that says a fully healthy Chargers team should be laying more than three to a healthy Dolphins squad. Miami’s offense was totally stuck in the mud against Brandon Staley's scheme when these two teams met last year, but I’d expect Mike McDaniel to have developed some counters to jamming the Dolphin receivers and taking away the middle of the field.
This is a game where I’d probably take the 3.5 points, but instead, I prefer to use Miami as a teaser option with Pittsburgh.
Verdict: Tease Miami to +9 & Pittsburgh to +8.5
Lions vs. Chiefs
The defending Super Bowl champion never seems to lose in this spot, and Andy Reid always has some new wrinkles dialed up for Week 1. Reid is 7-3 ATS and 9-1 straight-up (SU) in season openers, per Evan Abrams. But Patrick Mahomes' struggles to get margin and cover big spreads with the Chiefs are well-documented now in the betting space. The Chiefs are 15-28 ATS when laying 3.5 or more points OVER the last three seasons.
The defense will be without its most important player: Chris Jones. He was an All-Pro at generating pressure, and the Chiefs don't have much depth behind him. Jared Goff will be comfortable in the pocket as a result, and the Lions offense should be able to cook. Detroit returns its entire offensive personnel, including offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. The group was fifth in offensive DVOA last year and made changes to improve its porous secondary and run defense.
The Chiefs offense appears likely to be without Travis Kelce after he hyperextended his knee on Tuesday. This leaves the Chiefs dangerously shorthanded from an offensive explosiveness perspective. You could argue he’s the most valuable non-QB in the entire NFL.
Lean: Lions +6 or better
Eagles vs. Patriots
I'm generally looking to bet against Philadelphia this season. Even after the Eagles started 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS last year, the market caught up quickly and started to overvalue them. The Eagles finished the regular season 2-6-1 ATS in the last nine games of the season despite a 6-3 SU finish.
Philly lost both coordinators and was built perfectly to be playing from the lead all of last season. When you build your team to run the ball a lot and rush the passer and then get a lot of leads, that team will play well as frontrunners. New England's defense looks elite on paper and the Patriots offense has nowhere to go but up with an actual offensive coordinator.
The market has been jumping around a bunch here between 3.5 and 4.5. Most of the market is currently at 3.5-4. If New England gets back to 4.5, I'll back the Patriots.
Lean: New England +4, bet +4.5
Texans vs. Ravens
The Texans are shifting toward being more competitive and have actually spent money and brought in talent to raise the floor of the team around C.J. Stroud.
The Ravens are in year one under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, while the Texans are in year one of the DeMeco Ryans defense. There are natural growing pains for both sides as a result of that, but I'm always going to take the defense over the offense in these types of scenarios.
I'm higher than the market on both teams but find myself a bit uneasy about backing Stroud as a big road underdog in his first NFL start.
Lean: Texans +10
Buccaneers vs. Vikings
Minnesota only won five games by at least seven points last year, and the defense doesn’t look much better on paper this year. There will be a schematic change, but the lack of talent at corner and pass rush is still glaring.
On the other side, Baker Mayfield is still competent from a clean pocket, and he’ll have plenty of those on Sunday against this Minnesota front.
Generally, I’m concerned about Tampa’s aging roster, but the Vikings aren’t good enough to lay six to any team except Arizona.
Lean: Tampa Bay +6
49ers vs. Steelers
The 3s are mostly gone from the market now, but consider me a buyer in the Pittsburgh offense in year two under Kenny Pickett and a seller in this San Francisco defense relative to its elite market power rating.
The 49ers defense will still be quite good up front, but you could see some regression in the secondary. DeMeco Ryans is gone as defensive coordinator, and Steve Wilks career resumé as a defensive coordinator is quite middling. From a talent perspective, the secondary isn't nearly as talented and didn't grade out nearly as well by Pro Football Focus as the Niners' front seven.
Pittsburgh is a bet for me at +3, but key numbers remain crucial in the NFL and I'm instead going to target the Pittsburgh team total offensively. The 49ers created more turnovers than every team in the NFL besides Dallas, which set them up in a lot of shorter fields. If Purdy has more long fields, that increases the chance of this havoc-inducing Pittsburgh defense turning him over too.
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Titans vs. Saints
The Titans had just about everything go wrong in the home stretch of the 2022 season from injuries to a seven-game losing streak to lose the division.
Now, Ryan Tannehill is healthy to start 2023 and he raises the floor of the Titans offense considerably. Even while there are major questions along the offensive line, Tennessee upgraded at receiver with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins and maintains a clear coaching advantage with Mike Vrabel over Saints head coach Dennis Allen. Tennessee returns most of its underrated defensive personnel and has everyone healthy, while also retaining Shane Bowen as defensive coordinator.
New Orleans enters 2023 with an aging roster in year one under new quarterback Derek Carr. As much as the Saints will benefit from the league’s easiest schedule in 2023, they’re overvalued because of Carr’s decline in efficiency year over year and the reliance on post-production for aging veterans. The Saints are quite old at a lot of key positions, especially on the defensive line. New Orleans has been patching together its roster and filling in the gaps for years, and the addition of Carr is no different. His accuracy rate declined modestly each of the last two seasons and we now have a well-established baseline of what Carr is as an NFL quarterback.
These two teams are about even for me, so after home field, I’m willing to take the Titans at +3 or better in Week 1.
Packers vs. Bears
Are we sure the Packers are worse than the Bears?
The market seems to be pricing in a huge leap year for Justin Fields and there's certainly been a lot of offseason helium for him, but I'm not quite seeing it for the Bears quarterback. He adds a ton of rushing value, but his passing numbers remain a major concern overall. Green Bay is better defensively — defensive coordinator Joe Barry concerns aside — the talent gap is quite massive.
The Bears are still a year away from competing in the middle of their rebuild. Green Bay has the better offensive line and a much more reliable running game to help out their young quarterback.
This game is primed for the Week 1 overreaction of the year for whoever wins this game — but Green Bay should be lined as a tossup at worst.
Verdict: Green Bay +1.5 (-110, DraftKings)
Cowboys vs. Giants
I don't think there's all that much difference between the Eagles, Cowboys and 49ers at the top of the NFC, and that will be a common theme for me throughout the entire season.
The Cowboys made veteran improvements at second CB and second WR, beefed up the run defense and now have a fully healthy offensive line (for now) in front of Dak Prescott. Losing offensive coordinator Kellen Moore could hurt, but it could make them more pass-heavy, which was seriously needed after Dallas ran far too often on second and long last season.
Prescott had a real turnover issue last year, but this number sure does seem short to me. The Eagles were laying eight at home in the playoffs against the Giants in their last game. Flip home field, downgrade the Giants and this line should be four in my view. The Giants offensive line is definitely a bottom-10 unit, maybe a bottom-five in the league. That was a major problem against Philly in the playoffs and is sure to be an issue playing from behind against a Cowboys defense that had a pressure rate 5% higher than every other defense.
Verdict: Dallas -3 is available at BetMGM at -115 as of writing. I'd need -3 to bet the Cowboys on the road in this contest. At -3.5, where most of the market is, it's a pass.
Bills vs. Jets
Everyone in NFL media and fandom has an opinion on the Jets. It's true that they're adding Aaron Rodgers to a young defense that was elite in 2022 and not overly reliant on turnovers to sustain their success. It's also true that Rodgers thrives in comfort and familiarity and control. His first game for the Jets will feature less control, less comfort and less familiarity than we've seen for him in a long time. There are also real questions as to whether last season's Rodgers underwhelming EPA numbers are the sign of a real decline.
Either way, both of these offensive lines have real question marks entering 2023.
Josh Allen's lack of secondary weapons beyond Stefon Diggs got exposed in the second half of last season and his reckless play became more of an issue as he regressed from an elite and precise pocket passer to more of the gunslinger version we saw prior to 2021 and 2022. Allen was dealing with an injury, but Sauce Gardner awaits a matchup with Diggs now and that will force someone else in Buffalo to step up.
This game should play out as more low-scoring than the market suggests. Buffalo's defense remains underrated, despite its lack of elite pass rush.