The NFL returns for an exciting 2023 season that will be the start of many new eras for teams with Sean Payton joining the Broncos, Aaron Rodgers giving the Jets a real quarterback, a trio of rookie quarterbacks starting in Week 1, and then there is whatever the Cardinals are doing with USC’s Caleb Williams in waiting.
With this much uncertainty for the new season, we look at some of our favorite bets that are not just spreads or totals for Week 1 that are offered at the top online sportsbooks. Let’s break down some NFL odds.
- LV-DEN Largest Lead (Either Team) Under 14.5 Points (-124) at Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)
- Commanders -3.5 First Half Spread (-110) at BetRivers (check our BetRivers Review)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Over 19.5 Total Points (-119) at SBK
Broncos and Raiders Still Playing Close Games?
In 2022, no teams played more close games than the 15 the Broncos and Raiders each played. No teams also blew more 4th-quarter leads than the Raiders (6) and Broncos (5) did last year. Jimmy Garoppolo replaces Derek Carr at quarterback for the Raiders in 2023, and Sean Payton replaces Nathaniel Hackett at head coach for the Broncos as we write a new chapter in this AFC West rivalry.
The Broncos are a 3.5-point home favorite with a total of 44 points, but we want to bet on this being another close game.
Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at Empower Field at Mile High
The last time Jimmy Garoppolo and Russell Wilson met, Denver edged out an ugly 11-10 win in prime time last year. But these long-time NFC West rivals are meeting again in the AFC West as they look to prove they can get the job done on their new teams. Wilson could not do it last year for the lowest-scoring offense in the league, but he has Sean Payton backing him up this time.
Garoppolo has worked with Josh McDaniels before in New England, and hopefully, the Raiders’ game management will be better after blowing leads in historic fashion last year. But in the 2 games between these rivals last year, no one led by more than 10 points.
Everyone knows the Broncos have lost 15 straight games to Kansas City since 2015, but they also have not beat the Raiders since 2019. Things have changed a lot for these teams, but there are reasons to like a game that will stay close enough through 60 minutes (or more):
- In 4 career meetings where Garoppolo and Wilson both finished the game, neither led their team to a lead larger than 14 points.
- The Broncos had one of the best defenses last year and usually play better at home – since 2021, the over is 6-11 (35.3%) in Denver’s home games.
- Denver wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is questionable to play after his preseason injury, and he was by far the receiver Wilson was most efficient with last year.
- Raiders running back Josh Jacobs missed most of training camp and preseason for his holdout, though the team will still want to use him often, which could shrink the game’s possessions and scoring if he is successful on the ground.
- Denver was 1-of-4 teams to play in a league-high 16 games decided by fewer than 15 points last year, only getting blown out 51-14 against the Rams.
- In their last 42 games, the Raiders have a single win by more than 14 points.
Payton will obviously have his goals set to drastically improve this offense, but after how bad things were last year, it could take some time to get this thing moving again in Denver. This is not going to be like his days coaching Drew Brees in the Superdome.
Even in his final New Orleans season without Brees, Payton’s team only ranked 19th in scoring at 21.4 points per game. But Denver would gladly take that after averaging 16.9 points per game last year.
It may be a new era for both teams, but we’ll trust that these division rivals play another tight one and the largest lead is under 14.5 points for your NFL ATS best bets.
NFL Pick: Largest Lead (Either Team) Under 14.5 Points (-124) at Bet365
The Sam Howell Era Officially Begins in Washington
One of the biggest spreads in Week 1 is Washington as a 7-point favorite at home against Arizona, the team projected to finish with the worst record in the NFL. But this will be an interesting game for Sam Howell as he starts in Eric Bieniemy’s offense for the first time.
Bieniemy bested Arizona coach Jonathan Gannon’s defense in Super Bowl 57 between the Chiefs and Eagles. Both are working with considerably less talent here, but the Commanders should have the edge.
The Commanders are a 7-point favorite with a total of 38 points, but we see value in the 1st half spread where Washington is a 4-point favorite.
Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at FedExField
Just when you thought the Commanders had one of the most obscure Week 1 starting quarterbacks in 2022 5th-round pick Sam Howell, the Cardinals said hold my beer. The team does not even want to disclose the starter to replace Kyler Murray yet, but it will either be journeyman Joshua Dobbs (2 career starts) or 2023 5th-round rookie Clayton Tune.
Either way, this is a golden opportunity for the Commanders to get off to a good start at home on both sides of the ball. Jack Del Rio’s defense has no excuse to not look good against an Arizona offense that lost DeAndre Hopkins and will not have Murray’s mobility and playmaking ability.
As for Howell, he was impressive in both preseasons, but this will only be his 2nd start in the regular season. He was able to manage the game well against Dallas last year in Week 18, an upset win thanks to the defense.
But that is the best thing about this matchup as the Commanders should have an edge on both sides of the ball. So, whether it is 10-3 or 17-7 at halftime, a good start for the home team against the inexperienced coach and quarterback traveling two time zones for an early start should be an advantageous bet.
The Commanders ended Baltimore’s preseason winning streak in a game where Howell put up 17 points in the 1st half and looked good. The Commanders have talented skill players, and Gannon’s defensive scheme is susceptible to being picked apart by short, quick passes, which is what Bieniemy and the Chiefs did to the Eagles in Super Bowl 57. Gannon also has nothing close to the pass rush he had in Philadelphia as J.J. Watt retired for Arizona.
Trust the Commanders to take control early and bet their first-half spread for your NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Commanders -3.5 First Half Spread (-110) at BetRivers
Baker Replaces Brady for Tampa Bay
Going from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield sounds like a steep decline for Tampa Bay, but things were already not good on offense last year. Mayfield comes in with another fresh start in what might be his last chance as an opening-day starter.
He certainly gets an advantageous defense in Minnesota. The Vikings are a 6-point favorite with a total of 45.5 points, but we like Tampa Bay’s scoring line in this one (over/under 19.5).
Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at U.S. Bank Stadium
The 2022 Vikings held the Packers and Aaron Rodgers to a single touchdown in Week 1, but that was a mirage as the defense would go on to finish the year ranked 28th in scoring and 31st in yards allowed. The Vikings allowed at least 22 points in every other home game last season.
Minnesota allowed Mac Jones to pass for a career-high 382 yards on Thanksgiving for the Patriots. Even Daniel Jones managed a pair of 300-yard passing games against this secondary.
New Coordinator In Town
While the Vikings have a new defensive coordinator in Brian Flores, they let go of a lot of veteran talent like Za’Darius Smith, Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Patrick Peterson.
Flores comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, which means he believes in a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense that limits explosive plays but does give up a lot of yards between the 20s. With the roster the Vikings have on defense, they may break more often than they bend this year.
Also, Tampa’s defense is still solid enough behind the aggressive mind of Todd Bowles to force Kirk Cousins into some turnovers that could make for short fields and easy points.
But this is on Mayfield to connect with his new receivers and offense. Chris Godwin should look better in another year removed from his torn ACL suffered in December 2021. They still have Mike Evans as the No. 1 deep threat.
For as awful as Mayfield was last year, he still scored 24 points in Week 1 for Carolina against the Giants. He should have a better offensive line and running game than what the Buccaneers tried to put out there last year.
New offensive coordinator Dave Canales helped Geno Smith to a career year as his quarterbacks coach in Seattle last year. He could do something good for Mayfield this year, and it is hard to draw a better matchup than the Vikings indoors this week as they adjust to a new defense and many new starters.
Minnesota may pull off the win, but we’ll gladly take the Buccaneers to score at least 20 points, something they did on the road just once in 2022. But Mayfield is not afraid to take hits like Brady was done with doing last year at 45 years old.
He may actually help these receivers open up for more chunk plays this season.
NFL Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Over 19.5 Total Points (-119) at SBK