NFL Week 1 picks, predictions: Against the spread and over-unders including Chiefs-Lions, Aaron Rodgers’ debut

Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is finally here and with it, the opportunity to venture out into the truly unchartered waters.

Yes, we have a good sense of the viable early Super Bowl favourites and a general feel for the teams already eyeing the 2024 NFL Draft. But there are always surprise teams in either direction — the overvalued perceived contenders and the undervalued supposed bottom-dwellers.

And that’s where the opportunity comes knocking for early bettors. Until a month or so into the season, the books won’t fully be calibrated which provides a golden window to take advantage of skewed spreads. Case in point? Last year, Week 1 favourites went 8-8 ATS while in 2021 they went just 4-12. Rather than betting the entire slate, the more prudent course is to identify specific value plays.

Of course, not every book offers the same odds meaning if there’s a game you’re extra confident about, it’s worth shopping around lines to find the best value on the market.

COMPARE LATEST UK ODDS: Bet NFL Week 1 games at BetOnSports

How exactly will Week 1 play out? Nobody knows for sure! But looking at early trends and with history as a guiding light, here are five predictions.

(Odds courtesy of 10bet, trusted betting partner of BetOnSports, which allows you to compare the best offers, promos and odds in the UK.)

NFL Week 1 picks and predictions

Lions at Chiefs (-4.5, 53 o/u) — Friday, 1:20 a.m. BST

Perhaps the most intriguing game on the board in Week 1 pits the defending Super Bowl champs at home against a trendy Lions team that many are backing as an NFC dark horse. The major wild card in this one is the status of Chiefs’ star tight end Travis Kelce who is a game-time decision. If Kelce does play, expect a heavy dose of the Mahomes-to-Kelce action that vaulted the Chiefs to a Super Bowl win last season.  If he can’t go, the onus will be on the reigning MVP to bring the most out of a receiving corp littered with question marks — and without a true No. 1 option.

Patrick Mahomes has never lost a season opener and is 4-1 against the spread. Andy Reid has also won eight straight dating back to 2015. This line opened at 6.5 before moving to 4.5. With that movement, I like the Chiefs to win and cover regardless of whether or not Kelce plays.

Pick: Chiefs cover -4.5

Bengals (-2.5, 48.5 o/u) at Browns — Sunday 6 p.m. BST

The latest reports indicate that Joe Burrow will suit up in Week 1. After sustaining an injury during practice in early August, the Bengals’ star QB did not appear in any preseason action though did return to practice. To help keep Burrow upright, Cincinnati added Orlando Brown Jr. in the offseason, arguably the NFL’s best left tackle. The Bengals have statistically the worst offensive line over the last three years and even with Brown, faces a stiff test against Myles Garrett and company.

Outside of Russell Wilson in Denver, Deshaun Watson enters 2023 as the star quarterback with the most question marks. He did not play in 2021 and looked underwhelming in six games last year after returning from suspension. Although Elijah Moore should provide some big-play pop, Cleveland’s offense is built around Nick Chubb and a vaunted running attack. With uncertainty surrounding both quarterbacks, the play here is the under in a game that should be hotly contested between a pair of AFC North contenders.

Pick: Under 48.5 points

Rookie Quarterbacks in Week 1

  • Anthony Richardson (Colts): +5 vs Jaguars
  • Bryce Young (Panthers): +3.5 at Falcons
  • C.J. Stroud (Texans): +10 vs Ravens

Three rookie quarterbacks get the nod in Week 1. Some facts to consider when deciding whether or not to jump on the newcomers.

The last rookie QB to win outright in Week 1 was Sam Darnold in 2018. Since then, rookies starting QBs are 0-4-1.

Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 21-8 against rookie QBs and have won eight of their last nine. The only loss? Week 17 last year against Kenny Pickett. Baltimore had already clinched a playoff spot and played without Lamar Jackson.

Anthony Richardson is the fourth Colts rookie QB to start Week 1. The other three — Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Jeff George — all lost.

The Panthers have four receivers listed on the injury report for this week including both starters, DJ Chark Jr. and Adam Thielen. Even if both play, that doesn’t bode well for a rookie QB making his NFL debut on the road.

History says that giving the points against any of the rookies in Week 1 is a reasonable play. For a slightly bolder play, the moneyline multibet parlay on the three favourites pays out at 33-20.

The pick: Jaguars, Falcons and Ravens moneyline multibet 

Cowboys (-3.5, 47 o/u) at Giants — Monday 1:20 a.m. BST

Dallas has owned this rivalry of late, winning 11 of the last 12 outright while going 9-3 against the spread including 7-3 ATS as a favourite. That also includes a pair of season openers with the Cowboys covering as favourites. They’ve finally moved on from Ezekiel Elliott and added Brandin Cooks to compliment CeeDee Lamb, giving QB Dak Prescott another vertical threat.

The Giants were among last season’s most frisky teams under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, exceeding their preseason win total of 7.5, making the playoffs and winning a Wild Card game. Unlike last season when they started 6-1 — the only loss coming against Dallas — they won’t sneak up on anyone this time around. Although 3.5 is an enticing line at home, the best bet is to just keep riding the Cowboys in what has been a one-sided series. At some point, history will reverse course. But not this week.

Pick: Cowboys cover -3.5

Bills (-3, 47 o/u) at Jets — Tuesday, 1:15 a.m. BST

All eyes will be firmly fixed on Aaron Rodgers who will make his Jets debut after 15 years in Green Bay. This is an unfamiliar spot for Rodgers who has never opened a season at home as an underdog.

Of course, looking at his history in Green Bay isn’t particularly relevant for a game featuring a pair of AFC East Super Bowl hopefuls. It really could go either way for the Jets, as some — including Sporting News! — are picking them to win the whole thing while others are hedging against inflated public odds (no team has received more total public bets to miss the playoffs than the Jets).

Buffalo entered last season as Super Bowl favourites and with an over-under of 11.5 wins which it exceeded. Over the last three seasons with Josh Allen, no team has a better ATS record as a road favourite than the Bills. They won’t be intimidated by the Rodgers fanfare and will surely look to squash the speculation that New York will threaten their hold on the division.

Pick: Bills cover -3

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