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NFL Week 1 Sunday Game Picks

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Are you ready Bills Mafia? It’s the first Sunday in what’s sure to be an exciting and memorable 2023 NFL season! While we have to wait until Monday Night Football to see the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets face off (the Bills are currently favorites to win at -2.5 per DraftKings Sportsbook), there’s enough action around the league to enjoy as an appetizer.

Week 1 is always a challenge in terms of picking games. The only thing we have to go on is past performance, as well as offseason and preseason work. In some cases, it’s difficult seeing teams storm (or whimper) out of the gate vastly different than they were the season prior.

So let’s get into it, with an assist from Tallysight this season. My thoughts on each game follows below my predicted outcomes in the attached Tallysight table. We’ll wait until Monday to do the same for the Bills-Jets game.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. EDT (FOX)

For the life of me I cannot understand why everyone is so low on the Panthers but so high on the Falcons. I know the Falcons drafted running back Bijan Robinson, but outside of him no one scares me on Atlanta’s offense. While I think wide receiver London Drake is a good player, I don’t trust that Desmond Ridder is really the quarterback of the future for the Falcons. On the other sideline, head coach Frank Reich will have the Panthers ready to rally around their rookie and pull out the win.

Panthers with the Week 1 upset.

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. EDT (CBS)

For the Ravens and their fans, it’s time to put up or shut up. This team has consistently been a contender in their division, with a very good coach and an extraordinary quarterback. But early injuries and early playoff exits have been the Achilles heel for Lamar Jackson and Baltimore. Now that offensive coordinator Greg Roman is gone, I fully expect to see Jackson show off some of the arm talent that won him the Heisman award at Louisville. There’s a good number of football fans who think he’s unable to excel as a passer. This is the year to prove all the naysayers wrong. The Texans are doing all the right things to build for the future. I would be misleading if I didn’t take the opportunity to give them credit for the moves they’ve made this offseason. But they aren’t quite ready to beat a team like the Ravens. I do, however, think they will keep the game interesting enough to beat this ridiculous spread. Ten points?! The Texans are bad but they aren’t the Cardinals.

Ravens win but don’t cover the spread.

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns , 1 p.m. EDT (CBS)

No one wants to admit this, including me. But the Cleveland Browns are really good. They have a talented roster top to bottom that can compete with any team in their division and conference. But no one wants to believe in Deshaun Watson. There, I said it. No one wants to say it. If they had another quarterback, the Browns would be in the conversation. But on the other side of the field, the Bengals and their fans are rejoicing after hearing the news that quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to play and that he’s healthy. The high-powered offense is back and will be fun to watch. Wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins have combined to form one of the most exciting receiving pair in the league, and there’s reason to believe the offensive line will be better this year after an expensive upgrade. If Joe Burrow can stay healthy and stay clean, the Bengals have a chance to make a historic run.

But for Week 1, I need to see the new improved offensive protection for Burrow before I think they’ll be safe from the Browns’ aggressive pass rush.

The Browns win their season opener and force the national media to talk about them Monday morning.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. EDT (FOX)

This one won’t be long. The Colts aren’t good. I like quarterback Anthony Richardson, but he needs time to develop and he will also need someone to talk some sense into Colts owner Jim Irsay to pay their star running back and end all this offseason drama. The best thing you can do for a rookie QB is give him a run game and good defense. Or you can do what the Colts are choosing to do. Take away the only elite player on your offense and then force the rookie to overextend and play hero ball. Sound familiar to Bills fans? It should, in quarterback Josh Allen’s rookie year running back LeSean McCoy was a shell of himself. Compared to his standards, that season was pedestrian. He put up 161 rushes for 514 yards, three touchdowns, and 34 catches for 238 yards. That’s exactly what you can expect from the Colts if they really think starting running back Zack Moss is the right way to go.

The Jaguars are the team on the rise in the AFC outside of the Jets. Good coaching, good QB and new weapons. I’m high on the Jags this year. They win the division and make it out of the Wild Card round in January.

Jags win and cover the spread. I guess I lied, that was a long winded answer.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. EDT (CBS)

Sometimes a new environment is good for players. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has found himself in the best offensive situation he’s been in since entering the NFL. These are the best receivers he’s played with, and now there’s no pressure. That might actually spell success for the former first-overall pick. But the Vikings are going to be a dangerous offense and I don’t think Baker is prepared to keep up. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson looks unstoppable, but rookie receiver Jordan Addison won’t be too far behind. I’m not sure the Vikings will miss Dalvin Cook.

Baker and the Buccaneers put some points up. But not enough to come up on top. The Vikings win but don’t cover the spread.

Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. EDT (CBS)

The Saints, under the leadership of their new quarterback Derek Carr, are poised for success against the Titans and likely to cover the three-point spread. Carr’s arrival brings stability to the Saints’ passing game, and he has a track record of making accurate throws and smart decisions. Combined with a strong defense, New Orleans has the tools to control the game. Meanwhile, the Titans, though formidable, might take some time to adjust to any defensive schemes the Saints throw at them.

This matchup seems favorable for the Saints to secure a victory and cover the spread.

San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. EDT (FOX)

The 49ers are going to destroy the Pittsburgh Steelers. How is the spread so close? Christian McCaffrey is still the league’s best running back in my opinion and his skills as a receiver make him a formidable threat to any defense. His impact on the game cannot be overstated. With his agility, speed, and incredible field vision, McCaffrey has consistently delivered exceptional results, both rushing and receiving. It’s highly likely that he’ll have a standout performance against the Steelers, contributing significantly to the 49ers’ offensive success. Additionally, Nick Bosa’s recent signing of a five-year, $170 million extension is fantastic news for the team. Bosa is an immensely talented defensive player, known for his relentless pass-rushing abilities. This lucrative contract extension not only reflects his exceptional skill level but also serves as a testament to his importance to the team’s success. With Bosa’s presence on the field, the 49ers’ defense will present the Steelers with a far more challenging task, giving the Niners a significant advantage even on the road.

Combining McCaffrey’s exceptional abilities and Bosa’s newly signed extension, the San Francisco 49ers have a strong chance of securing a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Commanders, 1 p.m. EDT (FOX)

At some point do I stop admitting I’m a Cardinals season ticket holder? This time last year I was excited about the team. They had just come off a great season, losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs. Now? The Commanders are favored by seven points to blow them out. The Commanders?! Don’t get me wrong, I love their defensive line and some of their offensive weapons. But did I miss the point when Sam Howell became Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen? Why is everyone so high on Washington? For this game it doesn’t matter if Howell is an MVP or not.

The Commanders win this game but not by a touchdown. This game is won by a field goal. Cardinals beat the spread.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, 4:25 p.m. EDT (FOX)

I’m not crying, you are. I’m calling for the Bears to win this game just because I’m going to root for linebacker Tremaine Edmunds every week. Don’t ask me to be logical when it comes to Maine Savage.

Bears By A Billion

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. EDT (CBS)

The Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson are poised for a comeback season under the guidance of new head coach Sean Payton. So much so that if it weren’t for safety Damar Hamlin’s incredible story, I’d say Wilson should win the award with the improvement he’ll make this season. With Payton’s proven track record of success and his ability to harness the full potential in players, there’s no doubt that the Broncos will experience a rejuvenation. Wilson, known for his exceptional leadership skills and incredible athleticism, will undoubtedly benefit from Payton’s strategic game planning and offensive expertise. Moreover, Wilson’s experience and championship-winning mentality will greatly contribute to the Broncos’ resurgence.

On the other hand, I have reservations about Jimmy Garoppolo as a starting quarterback. While he has shown flashes of potential, his inconsistency and inability to stay healthy raise doubts about his capability to lead a team towards sustained success. His lack of experience and limited skill set in certain aspects of the game may hinder his ability to make smart decisions under pressure. Consequently, I remain unconvinced of Garoppolo’s suitability as a starting QB in the long run.

Broncos will win and cover the spread.

Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. EDT (CBS)

The Chargers are set up for a big season and it will start with a win against quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins. That’ll happen because of quarterback Justin Herbert who’ll spearhead a triumphant performance. Herbert, with his exceptional talent and strong arm, will prove to everyone that he deserves to be mentioned as one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the league. His ability to make accurate and precise throws, coupled with his intelligent decision-making, will enable him to exploit any weaknesses in the Dolphins’ defense.

Herbert’s confidence and determination will shine through as he leads his team to a well-deserved victory, solidifying his place among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m. EDT (CBS)

While I’m not an Eagles fan, I must say I am looking forward to this game. Anytime there’s potential for a rival’s embarrassment, it’s easy to get in the mood for it. The Patriots have done nothing to support quarterback Mac Jones. Well... this year they actually have an offensive mind employed as their offensive coordinator. So I guess that’s an improvement. But wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster won’t provide enough for the Patriots to keep up with the Eagles. In my opinion the Eagles have the best roster top to bottom in the entire NFL. It will take a collapse of epic proportions to lose to this Patriots team.

Eagles win and cover. I don’t know how Las Vegas has this so close.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. EDT (FOX)

Are we ever going to see wide receiver Cooper Kupp play at a high level again? It seems like he was just in the Super Bowl doing amazing things and being regarded as the best reeiver in football. Now that seems like a distant memory. Kupp will be unavailable for this game and head coach Sean McVay says he’s not opposed to placing the star wideout on Injured Reserve. This hurts the Rams, as I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with the Seahawks’ offensive power.

Yes, you read that right. Geno Smith basically had two No. 1 wide receivers last year in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Now they’ve added receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the mix — who I believe will end up being the true WR1 in Seattle. So now you have a team with three high-quality players for Geno Smith to put together another strong season. Everyone will be amazed by Smith-Njigba, and his legend starts soon. But for now, the Rams will have to figure out how to keep up with DK and Lockett.

The Seahawks win and cover the spread.

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants, 8:20 p.m. EDT (NBC)

“How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?!” In typical Cowboys fashion, they come into the season boasting one of the most talented rosters. But for Dallas it will come down to coaching and QB play. Dak Prescott is a very good signal caller. When he’s healthy, the offense rolls. He just has to protect the ball and not put the defense in bad situations for the Cowboys to reach their goals. The Giants are looking more dangerous than they did last year after surprising everyone and winning a game in the Wild Card round. Head coach Brian Daboll is my favorite offensive mind in the league. He’s fun and his players love him.

The reality here is that I really dislike both of these teams. Three super bowl losses between these two teams for the Buffalo Bills. But I’m rolling with Daboll.

The Giants will get the upset and win their home opener.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.