NFL Week 1 Previews, Predictions and Tips

The NFL is back, and so are my predictions. I’m hoping to repeat my early success from last season here and then will look to clean things up after a weaker end to the season. This looks to be a really fun first week of the season with a lot of tight matchups and without further ado, here are my predictions for week 1 of the NFL season.

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (-3)

What I think will happen:

I see this as an evenly matched shootout. Both teams have extremely strong receiving corps and have at least 1 bad starting cornerback so I expect a lot of passing from both teams in this game and with both teams, the key on defense will be whether they can generate a pass rush or not. I especially expect AJ Brown to have a monster game and he’d be a definite DraftKings play for me. I like the Titans to win by a field goal here and have a push on the spread, they have a couple of more guys on offense that are game winners and I see one of them making a clutch play to get a late win in a game between 2 sides projected to have strong seasons.

Titans 34-31 Cardinals

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Houston Texans

What I think will happen:

This game will likely be the worst of the week and is not a fun one to predict at all. Houston have had an offseason worthy of being in a sitcom and are probably the worst run franchise in the sport. They have Tyrod Taylor at QB and will pretty much be trying to ball control and run the ball all season. The rushing attacking doesn’t offer too much inspiration but the Jags D is likely to suck against the run so they may actually have some success. Meanwhile this is the big debut for Trevor Lawrence and this is a matchup he should do well in. Houston have just traded Bradley Roby so now they are weak at secondary and an even bigger problem is how bad they’ll be against the run so James Robinson looks a strong fantasy play. I’m not thrilled about the prospect of tipping up Jacksonville on the road but they should be able to do enough to win in a fairly boring game unless there’s a fight.

Jaguars 24-17 Texans

LA Chargers at Washington Football Team (-1)

What I think will happen:

I’m a bit split on the Chargers, Anthony Lynn had to go because he was a dreadful clock manager but he was a strong offensive coach and I’m not sure the Chargers offense will match the numbers of last season despite the probable improvement of Justin Herbert. I like Washington to win this game, despite being unable to find a proper name this offseason, they’ve got a strong roster and with Fitzpatrick at QB, they have a game manager that can make throws when he’s on a hot streak. The Chargers D, while probably stronger than last year is still a tad suspect and I can see them losing on the road here with a rookie head coach even if they do have the stronger QB.

Washington 24-20 Chargers

Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals

What I think will happen:

I feel for Kirk Cousins and Joe Burrow here. Both teams have offensive lines that played like human turnstiles during preseason and with both teams having solid pass rushes, this figures to be a long day for both quarterbacks. If Joe Burrow is fully fit, then the Bengals will have some success in the air but that’s an unknown and it may take a game or so for him to adjust back to the league. Also a giraffe named after him died the other day (google it, this is a real thing) so that’s probably not a good omen for the Bengals. The one obvious mismatch on offense is Dalvin Cook vs the Bengals D and he’s a good enough player to be able to make plays even if the O line gives him little help. Look for him to star in an ugly Vikings win.

Vikings 17-10 Bengals

New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (-4)

What I think will happen:

Sam Darnold gets to start against his old team. The big question is, will the leaving Adam Gase effect turn him into a star QB as well. He had a mediocre preseason outing against the Steelers so the answer is maybe but the jury is very out on this one. The Panthers also have big issues at O-line but the edge they have is the Jets are really poor at cornerbacks so their receivers should be able to get open if Darnold can find them. I somewhat like the Jets on offense, Zach Wilson looks to be a strong QB and they have some decent receivers. The issue is the Panthers will likely get some strong interior pressure which is never ideal for a QB and Tevin Coleman isn’t a good enough RB to change a game so it may be a tough day on offense for both teams. I think the spread is too big given the Jets have the better QB and some positives on offense and I’m going to take them to pull off an upset here. 

Jets 20-16 Panthers

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5)

What I think will happen:

This should be a fun one. Both teams are pretty chaotic with the Eagles starting Jalen Hurts who many expect to be a bust and the Falcons looking like a poor team on paper this season but they do have some fun young receivers. I think Kyle Pitts will be a rookie of the year contender as the Falcons will have to put up a lot of points to cover for having a turnstile pass D and I like them to edge this game. Matt Ryan is a stronger QB than Jalen Hurts and I can see him getting some magic done in the clutch against a team he has a strong record against at home. I’m going to say this is a high scoring game but I don’t have too much confidence in this prediction.

Falcons 31-24 Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-6.5)

What I think will happen:

I like Buffalo to have another extremely strong season. They’re becoming a more complete team and got even stronger on defense through the draft. I want to say they’ll win easily here but I can see a couple of reasons as to why Pittsburgh will keep the game close. TJ Watt is fit to start which was an uncertainty and Mike Tomlin is a very good regular season coach. That being said I still like Buffalo to win by 10, I can see them getting a lot of pressure on Roethlisberger who doesn’t have the mobility to evade anymore and their receivers have a very strong matchup here against a secondary that had a couple of poor preseason games. 

Buffalo 31-21 Pittsburgh

Seattle Seahawks (-3) at Indianapolis Colts

What I think will happen:

Originally, I saw this spread and was surprised that it wasn’t Colts -1, but then I saw Quenton Nelson and Xavier Rhodes on the injury report. This annoyingly puts this game up in the air but I’m guessing they’ll play but not be at full strength. This is a real test for whether Seattle have finally decided to protect Russell Wilson instead of leaving him to make miracles scrambling and their offseason moves suggest they want to make protecting Wilson a priority in a brutal division. How well Carson Wentz plays is another question mark as he clearly is very talented on his day and I’m hoping a change of scenery and a better O-line will help him turn back to the player he was a few years ago but his attitude in the Eagles locker room is a concern on that front, the one boost is the Seahawks D looks like it’ll be terrible this season with no pass rush or secondary. I like the Seahawks to just edge this on balance behind superior QB play since I’m not sold on Wentz.

Seahawks 26-24 Colts

San Francisco 49ers (-7.5) at Detroit Lions

What I think will happen:

I was huge on the 49ers a couple of season ago and they effectively threw away the Super Bowl after looking by miles the best team. They got decimated by injuries last season but everybody is back now. I have concerns in the long run over whether Kyle Shanahan will ever win a SuperBowl but that isn’t an issue in week 1. This matchup looks to be a blowout on paper, the Lions offense is built to run the ball and with their star RB injured against this D line, it looks like they won’t be able to do anything in this game. The 49ers offense can game control against a poor D with the Lions looking like a team destined to tank this season. This will be a blowout for me and probably a fast game.

49ers 28-10 Lions

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)

What I think will happen:

This is a really exciting playoff rematch between 2 excellent teams. The Browns have probably taken a bigger step forward than the Chiefs in the offseason and I can see this game being a really close one. I like the Chiefs to edge it purely because they’re at home and they should have Mahomes for the full game. They’ll also want to prove a point this season having been embarrassed in the Super Bowl by Tampa Bay. The Browns mainly improved in the secondary this offseason but the combo of Mahomes to Hill or Kelce is effectively unstoppable at the moment so the Chiefs will score and Mahomes can outduel Mayfield here.

Chiefs 27-24 Browns

Denver Broncos (-3) at New York Giants

What I think will happen:

This game will be scrappy. A lot of sharp bettors are on the Broncos after the Giants had a dismal preseason. But a lot of their main offensive playmakers barely saw a snap during the preseason and they should be better on offense in the regular season. The problem is their O-line is pathetic and so they may not be able to generate much against an elite D-line here. The Broncos meanwhile will also be poor on offense, they have a couple of nice playmakers but Bridgewater is more solid than spectacular and the run game is very hit and miss with it more likely to be a miss in this matchup. The difference will be made in the turnover battle and you can’t trust Daniel Jones to keep the ball. I have the Broncos winning by a field goal and getting a possible defensive touchdown if you fancy betting on this game.

Broncos 17-14 Giants

Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at New Orleans Saints

What I think will happen:

This game will mean a lot to the Saints, they may have to play it in Jacksonville but the players will be giving it everything after seeing what happened to New Orleans during Hurricane Ida. That being said, I have to pick Green Bay here. Rodgers will have a very easy matchup and will likely be going for MVP so he can make more money when traded next season and I could see him throwing at least 4 TDs here. The Saints will have the great enigma that is Jameis Winston at QB. The question is, will his eye surgery have helped him stop throwing the ball to the other team, usually with a clear path to the endzone. I want to say yes in the long run, just because he has a lot of talent and is exciting to watch, it’s hard not to root for him to play. But I can still see him turning the ball over once or twice here against a defense that tends to bend but not break unless against an elite team. I like the Packers to win by 2 scores even with Alvin Kamara likely to have a big game for the Saints.

Packers 35-21 Saints

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-3)

What I think will happen:

This game is not one I’d want to bet on. Both teams are well coached and I’m not fully sold on either QB, Tua had flashes of brilliance and ineptitude last season and a strong preseason doesn’t make me want to back him just yet until he’s fully proven it. Mac Jones had a nice preseason and Belichick clearly likes him a lot given that the Patriots released Cam Newton just last week. Both teams will likely have good defensive gameplans and this promises to be a bit of a slugfest. I like the Patriots to edge it with the home advantage but it’s not a confident pick.

Patriots 24-20 Dolphins

Chicago Bears at LA Rams (-7.5)

What I think will happen:

I feel the Rams will build their team to peak in the playoffs given the abundance of older players and having a savvy head coach and they are probably my preseason pick to win the SuperBowl (until my antepost curse kicks in and they get a load of injuries). But they will likely want to make a statement in week 1 and this feels like a perfect matchup to do so. The decision by the Bears to start Dalton is strange, everyone knows he’s average at best while Fields is the exciting talent. But this move may be just to protect Fields from facing this D line and this game has the potential to get ugly. The Bears D has gone from elite to poor over the last few seasons and the offense will probably be pedestrian with Dalton steering the ship. The Bears will get some excitement later in the season with their receivers and Fields, but the early weeks could be rough.

Rams 27-7 Bears

Baltimore Ravens (-4) at Las Vegas Raiders

What I think will happen:

The Raiders will finally get to play in front of their fans at Las Vegas and I expect the stadium to be rocking here. They will likely be treating this as a sort of SuperBowl and that’s enough for me to defy most of my logic and common sense and take the Raiders to win this one. The Ravens are a very strong regular season team but they have lost JK Dobbins and Marcus Peters to injury which will damage both sides of the ball and they have the Chiefs after this so could be caught looking ahead to that one which will be a SuperBowl for them given that both teams will be towards the top of the AFC. The Raiders will need to come up with some trick plays on offense as I still expect their defense to have a tough day with how potent the Ravens are at running and this also rates as a good matchup for Lamar Jackson. But Carr should enjoy a strong connection with Darren Waller in this one and that can be enough to get them home in a frantic game. 

Raiders 26-24 Ravens

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