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Football is back, folks.
After one of the wildest offseasons in NFL history, the 2022 NFL regular season kicks off this week with some juicy matchups across the league.
Week 1 of the NFL season is filled with fan bases excited for the fresh start of an 0-0 record believing that anything is possible for their franchises.
While this is true, some things will remain the same, and navigating between the unexpected and common themes is where handicapping this week can get tricky.
The old adage that defenses are ahead of offenses this early in the season does hold weight but a bettor cannot simply blindly bet an under and expect it to be an automatic win. Digging into the data and finding edges is what every week in the NFL is all about and Week 1 is no different.
The Rams began their title defense by hosting the Super Bowl favorite Bills on Thursday night while the Seahawks welcome home Russell Wilson and the Broncos in a revenge game Monday night.
Speaking of revenge games, Baker Mayfield might have more claim to destroy a former team than anybody as the Panthers host the Browns. Although Carolina struggled last season, the return of Christian McCaffrey and Baker's storyline makes it a must-watch.
With that said, here are our picks for the best bets to make on Sunday of Week 1 of the NFL season. Remember, you can always compare NFL lines and odds by sportsbooks here.
Best Sunday Bets – NFL Week 1 Picks
- Philadelphia Eagles –4.5 @ Detroit Lions
- Baltimore Ravens –6.5 @ New York Jets
- Minnesota Vikings ML vs. Green Bay Packers
- 2-Team Teaser: Vikings +7.5, Ravens –0.5
- Houston Texans +7.5 vs Indianapolis Colts
- Arizona Cardinals +4.5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
- SF/CHI Under 41.5 – San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles –4.5 @ Detroit Lions
The Eagles travel to Detroit to take on a Hard Knocks darling Lions team that they dominated 44-6 last year.
Both teams made some notable offseason moves. The Eagles added AJ Brown on offense along with James Bradberry, Haason Reddick, Jordan Davis, and Nakobe Dean on defense. The Lions added WR DJ Chark, CB Mike Hughes, and rookie DE Aidan Hutchinson.
While both teams should be better than they were in 2021, the Eagles' moves vastly outweigh the Lions.
Assuming mostly everyone stays healthy, the Eagles should sport a top 5 defense that will be hard for the Lions to move the ball on. CBs Darius Slay and James Bradberry should have no issue locking down second-year stud Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark. Containing DeAndre Swift could prove to be difficult, but I don't think he will make enough of an impact for the Lions to put up numbers on the Birds.
In addition, with arguably the best offensive line in the league, the Eagles' first-ranked rushing offense from 2021 should have no problems running on the Lions' mediocre run D.
I expect the Eagles to come out hot with a statement win over a Lions team that still has a lot of holes. I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles ended up winning by a TD or more.
Baltimore Ravens –6.5 @ New York Jets
On paper, this play seems like a no-brainer but whenever that seems to be the case, we always need to tread lightly to be sure that we have the right side of the game.
In this case, we are getting a Ravens team that is getting back arguably the best weapon in the league in Lamar Jackson. When healthy, he is a threat to be an MVP candidate and lead his team deep into the playoffs.
Jackson alone is not enough to be successful and lucky for us, he has one of the best tight ends in the league coming off a career year in Mark Andrews.
Defensively, the Ravens will have an experienced and lethal secondary after signing Marcus Williams to go with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. They may still lack the push up front that they desire but the back end will cause opposing quarterbacks fits.
The Jets also got stronger in their secondary when they drafted Sauce Gardner 4th overall in this past draft. Gardner brings length, speed, and a knack for breaking up passes with him to the Jets. Offensively, the Jets hope to get Zach Wilson back soon but Joe Flacco will be getting the start here in Week 1.
While the Jets secondary has improved, they are not going to be prepared for what Lamar Jackson brings to the table. In contrast, the Ravens defense looks to be healthier than last year and will be effective against Joe Flacco who is extremely one-dimensional at this point in his career.
- Baltimore is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games in Week 1.
- Baltimore is 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games against the Jets.
- New York is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in Week 1.
- New York is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games when playing at home against Baltimore.
Minnesota Vikings ML vs Green Bay Packers
The Packers and Vikings are very familiar with each other being division rivals and they get to face off right away in Week 1.
Last year Aaron Rodgers and the Packers looked absolutely terrible in a Week 1 loss at New Orleans.
With Rodgers losing his top weapon via trade in Davante Adams look for some early season struggles again this season from the Packers. Rodgers is dealing with a lot of young and unproven WRs and it will take time to develop chemistry on the field.
The Packers have struggled to win in Minnesota in recent years losing 4 of their last 6 meetings on the road to the Vikings.
While the Vikings will have a new head coach in 2022 as Kevin O’Connell takes over, the Vikings offensive weapons will be anything but new. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has his two favorite targets in WRs Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen to throw the ball to. Running back Dalvin Cook returns to anchor the running game for the Vikings.
The new head coach should prove to be an advantage for the Vikings offense as they will be doing things the Packers have not seen before.
Expect the Vikings to continue the home success they have been having against the Packers and pull a minor upset in week 1.
Both the Vikings and Ravens are in great teaser spots this week. I like combining them into a 2-team teaser as long as you can get odds of -130 or better (-125, -120, etc.).
As Bill mentioned above, it's going to be tough for the Jets to contain star QB Lamar Jackson. In addition, with a much healthier defense than 2021, I expect it to be hard for Joe Flacco to move the ball on the Ravens after they signed Marcus Williams and return Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey.
While there's no such thing as a sure thing in Week 1, I'm pretty confident that the Ravens will at least escape Met Life Stadium with a win on Sunday.
In terms of the Vikings/Packers matchup, I expect a close game that will end in a field goal difference or less in either direction.
While the Vikings return most of their offensive core, including Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, the Packers lost their best offensive outside of Aaron Rodgers in Davante Adams. Presumed #1 receiver Allen Lazard has been ruled out, leaving rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson to go along with veterans Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb.
A slow start for the Packers offense combined with a new-look offense for the Vikings under HC Kevin O'Connell should lead to a close game.
I like teasing the Vikings to +7.5 through key numbers 3 and 7.
Note: It's important to shop around for the best odds when betting teasers. Some sportsbooks are starting to give worse odds on teasers (-130 or shorter), especially when teasing through key numbers, so check a few books to find the best deal. I don't recommend betting on this teaser unless you can find odds of -130 or better.
Houston Texans +7.5 vs Indianapolis Colts
Let's get ugly.
It hurts to make this pick, but I think 7.5 is just too many points for the Texans against the Colts.
Despite the Colts smacking the Texans 31-3 and 31-0 last year, divisional underdogs are 58-36-2 in Week 1 since 2005, according to Action Network. The trends get even more favorable for the Texans when looking at home divisional dogs getting 7+ points in Week 1.
The Colts have also started slow under HC Frank Reich. In his 4 years with the team, he's started 0-4 straight up in Week 1 and 0-3-1 ATS.
With a lot of the Texans' defensive focus expected to be on star RB Jonathan Taylor, they will be counting on rookie Derek Stingley Jr. to contain Michael Pittman Jr. While this is a tall task for a rookie corner, Stingley looks like a star in the making. Also, the Colts don't have any proven bonafide playmakers outside of Taylor and Pittman, meaning they should be able to focus in on containing those two.
Look for new head coach Lovie Smith to light a fire under the Texans and for them to cover +7.5 in a close game that they could easily win.
Arizona Cardinals +4.5 vs Kansas City Chiefs
In the afternoon window, fans will be treated to a matchup consisting of two of the top young arms in the league when Patrick Mahomes faces off with Kyler Murray. Oddly enough, both quarterbacks lost their top weapons during the offseason. Tyreek Hill ran off to Miami and Deandre Hopkins was suspended for the first six games.
Kansas City brought in JuJu Smith-Schuster to help with the loss of Hill but he certainly cannot match the loss of speed. Travis Kelce will likely be the main target going forward for Mahomes while the Chiefs find their new deep threat.
Arizona hit the free agency market when Hopkins’ suspension was announced and grabbed one of the quickest receivers in the game, Marquise Brown. Kyler Murray’s ability to scramble and extend plays makes the addition of Brown a big positive. Brown’s time playing with a similar style quarterback in Lamar Jackson in Baltimore will serve him well for his time here in Arizona.
The Cardinals are a live home dog here, meaning, they could easily win this game outright. Taking the points here is an added bonus of security. The Chiefs may be ok without Tyreek Hill but it will take them more than an offseason to figure out just how to effectively adjust to life without him.
San Francisco 49ers vs Chicago Bears Under 41.5 (DOUBLE PICK)
This is a matchup of two teams with a lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball.
The 49ers are going with Trey Lance at quarterback this season, relegating Jimmy Garoppolo to the backup role in 2022. With this comes a big learning curve for Lance and the entire offense.
The 49ers offense has also been hit with a few injuries. The 49ers leading rusher from last year Elijah Mitchell has missed the preseason with a hamstring injury and is just ramping back up into game shape, so don’t expect a big effort out of him to take some of the workload and pressure off of Lance. The 49ers top offensive weapon WR Deebo Samuel has been dealing with a knee bruise, as well, but is expected to play.
The Bears have Justin Fields back at QB but he lacks offensive weapons at WR to throw the ball to. The Bears lost their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th WRs from last year in the offseason.
Last year, the Bears Under cashed in 10 of their 17 games including 6 of their 8 home games. The 49ers Under cashed in 12 of their 20 games, including having 8 of their 12 road games including postseason go under the total.
Look for the trend to continue with another low-scoring game between these two teams in Chicago to open the season.
The 49ers will come to Soldier Field feeling pretty good about themselves after getting to the NFC Conference Championships last year after just sneaking into the playoffs. They hope to build upon their late success last year, looking to second-year quarterback Trey Lance to lead them to a Week 1 victory.
They will face some stiff competition from a team that is looking to their own second-year quarterback, Justin Fields, to get the Bears out of the slump that has seen them claim a record of only 22-27 over the last three years.
The inexperience of the quarterbacks, (Lance has two career starts and Fields has 10 career starts) coupled with the fact that both of these teams run the ball well (San Francisco ranked seventh in the league last year in rushing yards and Chicago ranked 14th) will likely mean that both offenses will be going with a more “run-first” approach.
Both of these teams are designed to handle the run well defensively. The Bears have Roquan Smith who is one of the best run-stopping linebackers in the league, as well as new defensive tackle, Justin Jones who has been tackling ball-carriers like a star for the Chargers over the last four years and it doesn’t look like that will change now that he’s in a Bears uniform.
Of course, the 49ers also have a dominant defense. Centering around Nick Bosa and Fred Warner, the 49ers gave up the seventh least rushing yards in the league last season, and they may even get some more help this season. Javon Kinlaw is a big defensive tackle that the 49ers are very high on coming into the season. He was a 2020 1st round pick who has dealt with injuries for the beginning part of his career, but now he is healthy and is expected to have a breakout year.
Kinlaw’s emergence onto the scene combined with solid play by other role players on the 49ers defense could add up to a dominating defensive display, this could also be true for the Bears as well. I am expecting a low-scoring game.
Take the Under at 41.5.
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