Week 1 NFL Picks
NFL WEEK 1 PICKS
In this article, I will briefly analyze each game in the NFL this week and give my picks. My picks will include a straight up winner and a winner against the spread. Fade me at your own risk and tail me at your benefit. The odds are provided by ESPN and DraftKings.
Week 1 NFL Picks and Predictions
It seems as if it was forever ago that Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts were going back and forth in one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. Regulation ended with a controversial pass interference call against Philadelphia that led to a chip-shot 38-35 win for the Kansas City Chiefs. That may have been a bad call, but make no mistake when Scott Hanson says “7 hours of commercial free football starts now” that it is a legendary call. I can’t wait for the season to start. Luckily for myself and other NFL fans, the wait ends on Thursday night as the Detroit Lions go on the road to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
9/7 (TNF): Detroit Lions @ Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5, O/U 53.5), 8:20PM EST, NBC
This game is a pretty good example of The Champion vs Challenger. Detroit is an up and coming team who is building a skyscraper from ashes while Kansas City is a proven commodity who looks to build on their dynasty.
When this game opened, Kansas City was a six-point favorite. Just the question of Travis Kelce’s status for this game has been enough to move the line one and a half points towards Detroit. I can’t blame the oddsmakers on this one as Travis Kelce has not only been Patrick Mahomes go-to for years, but also the best tight end of this generation. On the other sideline, Detroit was much improved in 2022 than they were in previous years as it was their first winning season since 2017. It seems as if the culture has changed in a significantly positive way thanks to a young core led by guys like Aidan Hutchinson as well as their Head Coach, Dan Campbell. In the draft, the Lions roared as they picked up several high-quality players. The additions of RB Jahmyr Gibbs, LB Jack Campbell, TE Sam LaPorta, and DB Brian Branch should elevate the Lions to their first playoff appearance since 2016. As for the game, even if Travis Kelce can’t play, I expect the Chiefs to win and cover the 4.5-point spread. As aforementioned, Kansas City is a proven commodity and should flex their experience over the young Lions. Additionally, Patrick Mahomes at home is lethal with a 41-9 record including regular season and playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium.
Prediction: Kansas City wins, Kansas City covers -4.5
9/10: Tennessee Titans @ New Orleans Saints (-3, O/U 41), 1PM EST, CBS
Both teams have disappointed compared to expectations of years past. New Orleans has lost their winning ways since the retirement of Drew Brees. Tennessee had a 7-10 record last season just one season after being the number one seed in the AFC playoffs.
This year the Saints will look very different. The acquisition of Derek Carr gives New Orleans at least some stability at the QB position for at least the next few years as he was signed to a four year, $150 million contract in the offseason. Furthermore, the Saints added RB Jamaal Williams. Williams’ 17 touchdowns last year was impressive, his presence will especially be needed in the first three games as RB Alvin Kamara is suspended for those three games due to an altercation in Las Vegas. As for the Titans, the addition of WR Deandre Hopkins should ease the return of veteran QB Ryan Tannehill to the starting job. If Tannehill can take care of the football, the Titans should be in contention for a playoff spot. The exit of Taylor Lewan, while often injured, will hurt the strength of the Titans offensive line. However, Tennessee is attempting to counter that loss with the addition of first-round draft pick OL Peter Skoronski out of Northwestern. Skronoski should have his hands full against DE Cameron Jordan and the new additions to the revamped Saints defensive line. This game is a three-point spread and that is for good reason. Sunday’s contest will be low scoring as both teams have solid defensive units and are trying to define themselves in their new offensive systems. If this game were in Nashville, I wouldn’t be confident about laying points with the Saints. Nonetheless, this game is in New Orleans. Saints win.
Prediction: New Orleans wins, New Orleans covers -3
9/10: Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons (-3.5, O/U 39.5), 1PM EST, FOX
As a Saints fan, I hope both teams lose. Since that’s not possible, I’ll tell you what I really think. The familiarity between these squads should make for a fun opening game amongst division rivals.
Both teams are young and upcoming. They both have improving defenses and good running games. Atlanta added RB Bijan Robinson out of Texas in the first-round while Carolina added QB Bryce Young. With that said, Atlanta seems committed to continuing to dominate on the ground while playing solid defense and Carolina is beginning a rebuild. Last season, the Falcons were much better at home than they were on the road. They posted a 6-3 record at home and won a 37-34 overtime thriller the last time these two teams met in Atlanta. While I don’t believe in Falcons QB Desmond Ridder, I do think he keeps his game simple on Sunday and helps lead Atlanta to a win.
Prediction: Atlanta wins, Carolina covers +3.5
9/10: Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) @ Cleveland Browns, O/U 47.5, 1PM EST, CBS
Joe Burrow vs. Deshaun Watson for the “Battle of Ohio” to start the season for these AFC North rivals is a treat from the football gods. When I first saw the odds on this game, I was surprised by how close Vegas thinks this game will be. Burrow and the Bengals over the past few seasons have established themselves as a power in the AFC. On the other hand, the Browns have struggled mightily and did not look outstanding when Watson came back off his suspension.
All that said, this is still a division game. With that, the Browns have dominated this series as of late as they have won five of the six matchups in the 2020’s. The lone victory for the Bengals in that time was in Cincinnati, not Cleveland. In fact, the Bengals have not won in Cleveland since 2017. For some reason, the Browns have had the Bengals number. This time, Cleveland will have to dial a different number.
Prediction: Cincinnati wins, Cincinnati covers -2.5
9/10: Jacksonville Jaguars (-5) @ Indianapolis Colts, O/U 45, 1PM EST, FOX
Maybe I just don’t know all that much, but this is the second game in a row where I don’t understand the spread. Yes, this is another division game. Yes, the Jags have struggled with the Colts at times in recent memory. However, Indianapolis was an atrocious team last year who drafted a QB who will more than likely be a bust in Anthony Richardson out of Florida. Sure he has the capability to make big time plays, but does he have the capability of completing a pass at the professional level? This is something he struggled with mightily at UF as he completed just 53.8% of his passes with a just under 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio. The Colts seemed to have drafted an athlete, not a quarterback.
In Jacksonville, they have a real quarterback. Trevor Lawrence had a 66.3% completion percentage with just above a 3-1 touchdown to interception ratio. To back him up, he has a playoff roster being boosted by the return of WR Calvin Ridley. To me, this game is simple. Jags go into Indy and coast to an easy victory.
Prediction: Jacksonville wins, Jacksonville covers -5
9/10: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings (-6, O/U 45.5), 1PM EST, CBS
Last year saw the Vikings go 11-4 in one score games and one and done when it came to the playoffs. All that was under the direction of first-year Head Coach Kevin O’Connell. Both of those things made people believe that this team was fraudulent. They very well may have been last year, but this year I expect lots of winning coming for the Vikings. That should start very early for Minnesota as they play a much worse Tampa Bay team than in recent memory. This year is the first one for the Bucs without Tom Brady.
Like their division rival Saints, the Bucs will fall off after losing a hall of fame quarterback. The leadership and skill Tom Brady possessed was unmatched. There is no way Baker Mayfield is going to be able to lift Tampa Bay the way Brady did. Not only that, the Brady fan boys that wanted to play with him (not that I blame them) while he was in Tampa are gone now. On Sunday, Justin Jefferson will run wild, and Tampa will look abysmal on offense. Take that as you will.
Prediction: Minnesota wins, Minnesota covers -6
9/10: San Francisco 49ers (-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers, O/U 41, 1PM EST, FOX
The Niners’ run with QB Brock Purdy (“Mr. Irrelevant”) was something special. Many would say most quarterbacks can do what Purdy did if they had the weapons San Francisco possesses. Purdy threw 13 touchdowns to just four interceptions with a 67.1% completion percentage. That’s not too shabby for the last pick in the 2022 draft. Despite his success, last year wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for “Mr. Irrelevant”. His season ended in the NFC championship game as he exited with a UCL tear in his right elbow. Even if he was not injured in that game against the Eagles, I’m not too confident the 49ers would have won the game. Regardless, it was obvious that Purdy’s exit contributed to the downfall of San Francisco that day.
A UCL tear, especially one in your throwing elbow, is no joke. Despite that, Purdy seems to be laughing as he is going to start this game on Sunday against a stout Steeler defense. I’m no medical professional, but Google told me that it takes at least nine months to heal from a UCL surgery. While Purdy has much better medical treatment than the average person, I doubt that he is truly 100% healthy. Whether Purdy is completely healthy or not, his hands will be full when he has to face LB T.J. Watt, DE Cameron Heyward, and FS Minkah Fitzpatrick on the other side of the football. Not to mention the QB-WR connection of Kenny Pickett and George Pickens seems to be getting better with time. I don’t feel great about going against San Francisco, but I’ve got a feeling Head Coach Mike Tomlin has a trick or two up his sleeve to pull this one out.
Prediction: Pittsburgh wins, Pittsburgh covers +2
9/10: Arizona Cardinals @ Washington Commanders (-7, O/U 38), 1PM EST, FOX
Many speculate that Arizona is first in line for the Caleb Williams sweepstakes in the next draft. While Vols everywhere love QB Josh Dobbs, I don’t see much success for Arizona with him at the helm for the foreseeable future. The Cardinals don’t excite me at all as Kyler Murray is still injured and the team frankly has very little talent. Moreover, Arizona Head Coach Jonathan Gannon is more qualified to run the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin than the Cardinals.
On the other side, HC Ron Rivera is known as a defensive minded coach. Washington, while not an elite team, is a much better team than Arizona. They should have very little problem getting pressure on Dobbs as the Commanders are led by Jonathan Allen, Chase Young, and Da’Ron Payne along their defensive line. If QB Sam Howell can limit the turnovers and allow Washington to maintain time of possession, the Commanders should be able to grind out the Cardinals to start the year.
Another thing that people forget about is the ownership change. Without former owner Daniel Snyder, expect Washington and their fans to be much more energized this season.
Prediction: Washington wins, Washington covers -7
9/10: Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens (-10, O/U 44), 1PM EST, CBS
How will rookie QB C.J. Stroud fare in the NFL? In this one, we get the first taste of that. This will be no easy task for Stroud as the Ravens have a strong home environment to go along with a tenacious defense. Baltimore is expected to be better as QB Lamar Jackson is healthy and should be very happy with his five-year, $260 million dollar contract. With those distractions out of the way, expect Baltimore to be a playoff team and someone you might not want to see the first weekend of the postseason.
Not only is Lamar Jackson returning, but the Ravens also added WR Odell Beckham Jr. That should be an interesting connection, but one we already know about is Lamar to TE Mark Andrews. Andrews’ stats dipped without Jackson, so Jackson’s return will greatly help Andrews. Ravens fans have a lot to be excited about with their team this year and the fireworks should start early in the season as they will coast to a win.
Prediction: Baltimore wins, Baltimore covers
9/10: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (-1, O/U 43), 4:25PM EST, FOX
Chicago fans must be dreaming as Aaron Rodgers is finally not on the Packers. For years, Rodgers would remind the Bears that “he owns them and still owns them”. Now, with the future hall of famer gone, Jordan Love finally gets his chance to shine. Love, a first-round draft pick in 2020, has waited patiently and allegedly grown a lot as a quarterback. Green Bay might not be the team they once were with Rodgers, but they will certainly be interesting this season.
The Bears have committed to building a team around QB Justin Fields. Fields has shown signs of improvement throughout his career without much help at all. In the offseason, Chicago acquired multiple value assets in a blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers. Chicago gave up the number one pick in the last draft in exchange for the 9th pick (later traded to Philadelphia for the 10th pick and a 2024 4th round pick), 61st pick, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-round pick as well as WR D.J. Moore. In the draft, the Bears selected OT Darnell Wright at number 10 overall. Justin Fields needed help along the line, so the guy Will Anderson said was the best OT he faced in college should be a good addition. On top of that, the Bears added DL Gervon Dexter, CB Tyrique Stevenson, and DT Zacch Pickens at picks 53, 56, and 64 respectively. Although Chicago is a young and upcoming team, they will fall to an old foe to start the year thanks to the Packers’ defense lead by CB Jaire Alexander and LB Rashan Gary. That being said, look for the Bears to be a much improved team this year despite a disappointing loss to start the season.
Prediction: Green Bay wins, Green Bay covers +1
9/10: Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-3.5, O/U 44), 4:25PM EST, CBS
“Will you f—ing stop kissing all the babies?” said Denver Head Coach Sean Payton addressing QB Russell Wilson. Last season, the Broncos underachieved in a rather ugly way. A lot of that had to do with the poor play of Russell Wilson. Wilson generally had fantastic statistics throughout his career, but for some reason that was not the case in his first year in Denver. His career touchdown to interception ratio is above 3-1, but last year he threw just 16 touchdowns to 11 interceptions.
As a result of the poor play of Wilson along with the Broncos as a whole, Denver hired Sean Payton to be the captain of the ship. With Payton’s experience coaching Drew Brees, the Broncos are hopeful he will put out similar results with what is considered an undersized, but skilled quarterback. If Wilson decides to keep “kissing all the babies”, he and Sean will not get along. Given that winning is a priority in the Mile High City, Coach Payton should be able to get Wilson under control. In Sin City, they must deal with the loss of longtime quarterback Derek Carr and the emergence of veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G has shown the capability to win games if he has weapons and can take care of the ball. The good thing for him is that the Raiders still have WR Davante Adams and RB Josh Jacobs. Another positive for Jimmy G is that he will be able to work with his former offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, as the head coach of the Raiders. Though expectations are not high in Vegas for the Raiders this year, look for them to get the win week one.
Prediction: Las Vegas wins, Las Vegas covers +3.5
9/10: Philadelphia Eagles (-4) @ New England Patriots, O/U 45, 4:25PM EST, CBS
What might have been for Philadelphia if CB James Bradberry had not been called for a controversial holding call on 3rd down with less than 2 minutes to go in the game. It was a poor call in an even worse situation to make that call. As a result, the penalty allowed Kansas City to run down the clock and kick the go-ahead field goal with just seconds remaining in the game. That loss was certainly crushing, but don’t think for a second that the Eagles are done being an elite team in the league.
The Eagles gave QB Jalen Hurts a massive contract extension as the contract is a five-year, $255 million dollar deal. Beyond contract talk, the Eagles are stacked all around. They have outstanding wide receivers in A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith to go along with a strong defense. In the draft, Philadelphia added UGA DT Jalen Carter and DL Nolan Smith to add on to their already Georgia Bulldog filled defense. If you’ve watched college football as of late, you might already know these names. If not, you will soon learn them as the Eagles will be a force this season. As for New England, they have not been the same team since Tom Brady left a few years ago. With Mac Jones as QB1, the Patriots have been a middle of the road team. While the defense has been great, the offense has sputtered as they were in the bottom half of the league in yards per game, points, and in general look weak due to the lack of weapons. The addition of WR Juju Smith-Schuster should help a little bit, but not enough to take down the Eagles.
Prediction: Philadelphia wins, Philadelphia covers -4
9/10: Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers (-3, O/U 51), 4:25PM EST, CBS
This is going to be one of the most interesting games of the weekend. Both teams have exciting weapons on offense and are younger rosters looking to make a jump this season. Both teams lost very close games in the Wild Card round to end their seasons last year.
On Sunday, I am excited to see how the QB battle looks in Tua Tagovailoa against Justin Herbert. Despite multiple scary concussions, Tua was a much-improved player last year. He also benefits from the return of WR Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. While Waddle has been limited in practice this week, his presence will help the progression of Tua. The Chargers are bound to make a leap at some point. WR Keenan Allen leads a solid WR room with Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, and rookie Quentin Johnston to add on to Allen’s continued success. Defensively, the Chargers have good pieces in SS Derwin James Jr., DE/LB Joey Bosa, LB Eric Kendricks, and DE/LB Khalil Mack. The question for Los Angeles is whether they can come together as a unit to win consistently and not just enough to scrape the playoffs. No doubt both teams will be alluring this season. I could go either way on this game, but I feel slightly better about the Dolphins.
Prediction: Miami wins, Miami covers +3
9/10: Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks (-5, O/U 46.5), 4:25 PM EST, FOX
Despite rumors that Rams QB Matt Stafford has a hard time connecting with younger players on the roster, Stafford has insisted that this is just a rumor. Just two years ago, the Rams won the Superbowl. Last year, things fell apart as both Stafford and star WR Cooper Kupp were injured. Will the Rams be able to jump right back into the success they had on their Superbowl run? I doubt that as the roster has regressed significantly. If you don’t believe me, just ask Madden as they have the Rams as a 73 overall for next season.
In the case of Seattle, they were a playoff team last year lead by the surprising jump in the quality of play of QB Geno Smith. The Seahawks are overall a good team and have a great coach in Pete Carroll. They also have fantastic offensive weapons in WR Tyler Lockett, WR D.K. Metcalf, and RB Kenneth Walker III. Seattle more than likely won’t be the team that represents the NFC in the Superbowl but look for them to be consistent and a playoff contender. Division games are hard to predict, but I’m going with the team where I know more of what I am going to see once the ball is kicked off Sunday afternoon.
Prediction: Seattle wins, Seattle covers -5
9/10 (SNF): Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) @ New York Giants, O/U 46.5, 8:20PM EST, NBC
“America’s Team” on the road against a division rival to start the season is the cherry on top of what should be a beautiful opening football Sunday. Dallas has high expectations every year, but this year those have heightened to another level. Jerry Jones sent a message to QB Dak Prescott that he is not playing around by trading for QB Trey Lance. The Cowboys have been a quality team in the regular season for the past few years but have not had the playoff success necessary to keep the Dallas stakeholders happy.
On the Giants side, they improved significantly last season. New Head Coach Brian Daboll led the Giants to a 9-7-1 season and their first playoff appearance since 2016. Daboll seems to like to run an offense that runs a lot and works out of the play-action game, so that works well with the skillset the Giants possess. The addition of TE Darren Waller should greatly improve this offense and builds directly on what they are trying to do. Look for the Giants to surprise people this year.
As of late, the Cowboys have dominated this series as they have only lost to the Giants once since 2017. I don’t feel great about taking the Cowboys and laying 3.5 along with that, but I’m going to roll with history on this one.
Prediction: Dallas wins, Dallas covers -3.5
9/11 (MNF): Buffalo Bills (-2.5) @ New York Jets, O/U 46.5, 8:15PM EST, ESPN
I’m not sure there was a better matchup to put on Monday Night Football. Josh Allen vs Aaron Rodgers will be movie theater like entertainment. Buffalo, in the past few seasons, has established themselves as an AFC power. However, they have been unable to get over the hump. Is this the year for Josh Allen and crew to get past the Chiefs and Bengals?
On the other hand, the Jets look completely revamped as QB Aaron Rodgers was traded for in the offseason and with their improved team from a year ago, watch out for the New York Jets. New York also added RB Dalvin Cook to compliment RB Breece Hall who is coming off a torn meniscus and ACL. No doubt the Jets will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. As for the game, this makes me think of when Tom Brady debuted against the Saints in his first game with the Buccaneers. The situations are very similar as there is a future hall of fame quarterback going to a new team with a bunch of new weapons who want to play with that quarterback. In the Bucs-Saints matchup, New Orleans won because they were the more established team. I see the same thing happening in this matchup.
Prediction: Buffalo wins, Buffalo covers -2.5