NFL Week 1 best bets and betting odds
We have made it to the start of the NFL season and Week 1 presents a few challenges for bettors. Not only are there some question marks about all 32 teams that need to be answered, but these lines have also been cooking for a long, long time. If you like your steak well done, that’s what these betting odds are like. If you’re more of a medium or medium-rare person, then this is a bit of an uncomfortable situation.
But, there are 16 games and there are sure to be some inaccuracies in the lines. Bettors will win some and bookmakers will win some and we’ll all make our adjustments moving forward. For now, it’s all about Week 1 and trying to get started off on the right foot.
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Here are my favorite Week 1 NFL picks:
(Odds as of September 7, 1:50 p.m. PT)
The DeMeco Ryans era begins with a pretty tricky assignment against Lamar Jackson and new OC Todd Monken. A smart defensive mind like Ryans has had a long time to evaluate his personnel and get his team prepared for what the Ravens are going to do. The Texans roster really wasn’t that bad last season. The offense was putrid, but the Texans defense was 18th in EPA/play and actually around the league midpoint against the pass. They did get worn down by the run, and that would be a concern here, but this should be a better offense.
C.J. Stroud has a lot more arm talent than Davis Mills and the others that played last season. He’s got a good, reliable tight end in Dalton Schultz and a healthy Robert Woods. Dameon Pierce is a very serviceable back and Devin Singletary adds quality depth. Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik is from the Kyle Shanahan tree and he’s going to incorporate a lot of safe, high-percentage concepts into the offense.
I don’t think the Texans win, but I don’t think they get blown out either. We’re getting a 10-point head start with a low-scoring expectation and I think Houston shows well in Week 1.
Pick: Texans +10 (would play to +8.5)
The Seahawks begin their quest to win the NFC West with a division matchup at home against the Rams, while the 49ers head to Pittsburgh for a tough road tilt against the Steelers. It could be a really great start to the season for Seattle. If nothing else, I think they take care of their affairs.
With Cooper Kupp out, Matthew Stafford will have to figure out where to throw the ball and the options are pretty limited with Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Puka Nacua, and Tyler Higbee all vying for targets. The Rams haven’t had a running game in a while and it seems unlikely that Cam Akers and Kyren Williams will slice and dice the Seattle front seven.
This is also a much different defense for the Rams. Aaron Donald is still the difference maker in the middle, but the rest of the unit has been rebuilt around him. It looks like a shell of the unit that won the Super Bowl a couple years ago.
For the first 10 weeks of last season, the Seahawks had a top-10 offense and just added another fun weapon for Geno Smith in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Covering all of the skill talent for Seattle looks like a lot of work and they can get the ball to athletes in space to help neutralize Donald’s impact.
Defensively, Seattle sports a really strong secondary and ranked 12th in Rushing Success Rate against. They weren’t quite as good in EPA, but added Dre’Mont Jones and also brought back Bobby Wagner and signed Devin Bush in hopes of helping in that area.
It is a big line given the nature of the rivalry, but the Seahawks just look substantially better at present.
Pick: Seahawks -5.5 (would play to -6)