Following Thursday night’s release of the 2023 NFL schedule, Pregame.com offers a first look at the slate for Week 1 to kickoff the 2023 NFL Season.
Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs (-7) O/U 45.5
The NFL kicks off on Thursday September 7th with the Week 1 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions. Reigning Super Bowl winners like the Chiefs have generally performed well in Week 1, with those teams posting an 18-4 SU and 13-7-1 ATS record in season openers this century. Under head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs have gone 1-0 SU and ATS in season openers after winning it all, beating the Houston Texans 34-20 to kickoff the 2020 NFL Season.
Since the NFL schedule release on Thursday night, bettors have shown their support for the Lions, as the spread dipped to Detroit +6.5 (-120) in some spots, including notably at DraftKings. This enthusiasm for the Lions is also evident in the future's market, reflecting bettors' confidence in the team's prospects for the upcoming season.
A New Day in Detroit: With a Win Total between 9.5 and 10 (let’s call it O/U 9.7 according to a 5-book consensus) this marks the first time in at least the last 30 years that the Lions have had a top 10 highest NFL win total entering the season. The last time the Lions were expected to finish with an above .500 record was in 2015, when the market predicted a win total of just over 8 games in the then 16-game schedule. Moreover, the Lions enter the season as NFC North favorites, a position they haven't held in at least the last 20 years according to SportsOddsHistory.com.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3) O/U 43.5
The Week 1 matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons features two teams that both finished above .500 ATS in the 2022 season, despite both having subpar SU records. As members of the NFC South, both teams have relatively easy schedules due to the frequent in-division games, which could impact their performance this year.
The Atlanta Falcons, in particular, will be seeking to capitalize on having by far the easiest schedule in the league, starting with a home division victory against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers, who are set to debut their #1 overall pick Bryce Young, will be looking to make a strong impression in the season opener. The Panthers are tied for the fourth-easiest schedule based on the aggregate win totals of their opponents with their average opponent expected to win 8.3 games. Still, that’s not close to the ease the Falcons are expected to have with their average opponent only expected to win 7.7 games this season.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-10) O/U 44.5
Sportsbooks make mistakes too. Despite Baltimore having one of the top 10 highest Win Total and much superior Super Bowl Odds , prominent offshore Sportsbook BetOnline opened the Baltimore Ravens as only 2.5-point favorites Thursday afternoon. Soon afterward other books opened at the more appropriate number of Ravens -9 to -9.5. Perhaps compensating for their mistake, BetOnline is now the only prominent book offering BAL -10/HOU +10, whereas the consensus market is at Ravens laying 9.5.
Like the Eagles last year, the market has been increasingly optimistic about the Ravens as they have added wide receiver talent throughout the offseason. Baltimore's win total opened at 8.5 but quickly surged over 9.5 after they officially signed Lamar Jackson on draft night after having added WR Odell Beckham Jr. a week earlier. Baltimore continued to reinforce their wideout position on draft night by selecting WR Zay Flowers with the #22 overall pick.
On the other hand, the Texans, led by first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans, are expected to start the season with No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud under center. As underdogs in this matchup, they'll be looking to defy expectations and deliver a competitive performance against a highly favored Ravens team, who have lost only one of their last six season openers.
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) at Cleveland Browns O/U 48
In a fascinating AFC North showdown, the Cincinnati Bengals head to Cleveland to take on the Browns in their Week 1 matchup. The Bengals, coming off a Super Bowl appearance in 2021, continued their strong performance in 2022 with a 13-6 ATS record, ranking third in the NFL behind the New York Giants and Detroit Lions. They retain all of their key pieces from the last two successful seasons, including WR Tee Higgins, who was the subject of trade rumors leading up to the draft, and Defensive Coordinator Lou Anarumo, who many believed would be offered a head coaching position due to his exceptional defensive adjustments in recent postseasons.
On the other side of the field, the Cleveland Browns are looking to bounce back from a difficult 2022 campaign, particularly for QB Deshaun Watson. After not playing since the 2020 season and returning from suspension in Week 13, Watson struggled mightily, posting career-worst marks in yards per game, yards per attempt, TD-to-INT ratio, and QBR across his six games with the Browns.
Historically, the Browns have not fared well in season openers, winning just six of their last 31 Week 1 games and covering the spread in only 40% of those matchups. Since 1989, the Browns hold a 6-24-1 SU and 12-18-1 ATS record in Week 1, with an average ATS margin of -4.8. This highly anticipated divisional contest could set the tone for both teams as they embark on their 2023 campaigns, with the Bengals looking to maintain their recent success and the Browns aiming to rebound from a challenging season.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) at Indianapolis Colts O/U 44
The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the 2023 season with renewed optimism and high expectations as they face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1. The Jaguars, who have only been road favorites twice in the last three seasons (both times against the Houston Texans), now find themselves not only among the top 10 in Super Bowl odds, and not only as AFC South favorites for the first time in franchise history, but they also kick off their season as road favorites against their division rivals from Indianapolis.
While the Jaguars boast a stable roster, returning 21 of their 22 starters, the Colts have experienced significant turnover, particularly at the quarterback position. Indianapolis is expected to choose between No. 4 overall draft pick Anthony Richardson Jr. or former Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew to start the season opener. After the draft, many analysts speculated that Richardson would need a year of development before starting in the NFL. However, in recent weeks, some NFL teams have suggested that Richardson is more likely to make his debut on the field as the Colts' Week 1 signal-caller.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings (-7) O/U 46
The Buccaneers and Vikings face off in Week 1, with Tampa Bay introducing former Seattle assistant coach Dave Canales as their new offensive coordinator. Canales, who spent 13 seasons in Seattle, will have the opportunity to call plays in the NFL alongside 2018 #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who steps in following Tom Brady's retirement.
The Minnesota Vikings enter the matchup as 7-point favorites, making them the biggest Week 1 favorite the franchise has been since 2001, when they were 10-point favorites at home against the Carolina Panthers. After a successful 13-4 season last year, head coach Kevin O'Connell will aim to avoid a shocking Week 1 home loss like the one that occurred in 2001, when Minnesota lost outright to the Panthers the last time the Vikings were trusted so heavily by Vegas entering the season.
Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints (-3.5) O/U 41.5
The New Orleans Saints continue to receive strong support from bettors since becoming clear NFC South favorites in March after signing former Raiders QB Derek Carr. Initially opening as 3-point favorites early Thursday, the Saints have seen their odds increase as they now lay 3.5-points hosting the Titans in their Week 1 matchup.
A key aspect to watch prior to this game will be the development of the Titans' quarterback room as the preseason progresses. The Titans have drafted a quarterback in the second round for two consecutive years, adding Malik Willis and Will Levis to their roster in preparation for the future. With Ryan Tannehill, 34, entering the final year of his lucrative contract, the Titans are evaluating their options at the position. Tannehill had the league's largest cap hit in 2022 and will count $36.6M against the Titans' cap in 2023, trailing only Patrick Mahomes ($39M) in cap impact.
San Francisco 49ers (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers O/U 41.5
Bettors have shown confidence in the road favorite San Francisco 49ers, as the team's odds have increased from an opening of 2.5-point favorites to now laying 3-points visiting Pittsburgh. However, the 49ers' quarterback situation for opening day remains uncertain. While the front office has expressed long-term confidence in Brock Purdy, his shoulder rehab may not be complete in time for the start of the season.
49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan shared some optimism during the Dwight Clark Legacy Series event this week, stating that Purdy might be ready for the beginning of training camp. Shanahan explained that Purdy is currently participating in the same drills as other quarterbacks, though using a towel instead of a football. Barring any setbacks, Shanahan believes Purdy will be present at training camp.
If Purdy is not ready for Week 1, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will compete to be the starting quarterback for the 49ers' first regular-season game.
Arizona Cardinals at Washington Commanders (-6.5) O/U 40
The Washington Commanders have not been this heavily favored in a Week 1 game since 2003, and much of this market-love may have nothing to do with the franchise itself. Despite likely starting second year QB Sam Howell, the market views the Commanders as a much more stable outfit when compared to the Arizona Cardinals, who are undergoing a significant overhaul under first year Head Coach, Jonathan Gannon.
Cardinals QB and 2019 #1 overall draft pick, Kyler Murray, is still recovering from a torn ACL. As a result, veteran Colt McCoy is likely to make his seventh start for the Cardinals. McCoy has a 3-3 SU record in his previous six starts with the team.
With an Over/Under of just 40 points, this game is expected to be the lowest-scoring contest in Week 1.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-2.5) O/U 45
The Green Bay Packers have historically dominated the Chicago Bears throughout both the Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers eras. However, Chicago and QB Justin Fields are hoping that Week 1 in 2023 will mark the beginning of a new era in this rivalry. Chicago is favored over Green Bay for the first time since Week 1, 2019, when the Bears were 3-point home favorites hosting the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers. This game will mark only the fourth time in 30 matchups since 2009 that the Bears will be favored to beat Green Bay.
Jordan Love, the 24-year-old quarterback, will be making his second career start for the Packers following the trade of Aaron Rodgers. Love lost his only career start in the NFL, falling to the Chiefs 13-7 at Arrowhead during Week 9 of the 2021 season. While only scoring one touchdown, the Packers did cover the 7-point spread in that game. More recently, Love impressed with a strong second-half effort on Sunday Night Football against the Eagles last season, although he was not able to engineer a comeback win.
Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3) O/U 45
Russell Wilson's performance in Sean Payton's offense has yet to be seen, but the Vegas market has still shown the Broncos love, moving them from 3 to 3.5-point favorites over the Raiders in Week 1 since the schedule was released Thursday night. Some of the market enthusiasm might picking up on the Broncos stellar track record in early-season home games. Entering the 2023 season, the Broncos hold a 34-5 SU and 21-12-5 ATS record when playing at home in the first two weeks of the season. Even better lately: Since opening a new stadium in 2001, the Broncos have posted a 22-3 record over the first two weeks when playing at home, covering 60% of those games (12-8-5 ATS)..
Raiders' new QB Jimmy Garoppolo will have to wait until Week 3 to make his home debut for Sin City. However, Raiders fans may be encouraged by the fact that Jimmy GQ boasts a 27-10 (73%) record on the road in his career, second only to division rival and reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes (33-9, 79%). For comparison, Garoppolo's former mentor Tom Brady ended his career winning 67% of his road starts (113-55).
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) O/U 50.5
The Dolphins, although low on draft capital, made significant moves in the offseason by adding speed to their offense including signing Free Agent WR Braxton Berriors and acquiring Jalen Ramsey for their defense. On the other hand, the Chargers brought in a new Offensive Coordinator, Kellen Moore. However, the status of RB Austin Ekeler remains uncertain following his offseason trade demand.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) at New England Patriots O/U 46
Super Bowl runners-up like these Eagles have gone 8-14 SU and 4-18 ATS in Week 1. The Patriots will be hoping to revive their offense by bringing back Offensive Coordinator Bill O'Brien, who will aim to replicate Mac Jones' first-year results and steer clear the struggles and turnovers that plagued Jones’ sophomore campaign.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5) O/U 46
The Rams are getting key players back from injury, including starting QB Matthew Stafford, DE Aaron Donald, and WR Cooper Kupp. Nonetheless, the Vegas market appears to view this year as a rebuilding one for Sean McVay's squad, recently downgrading their Win Total from 7.5 to now 6.5 expected wins for the Rams.
In contrast, the Vegas market has applauded the Seahawks offseason moving, including resigning last year’s Comeback Player of the Year, QB Geno Smith. Overall, the Vegas market upgraded the Seattle Seahawks in the futures market, most notably cutting their NFC West payout in half; they are now +250 to win the NFC West after opening as 5/1 underdogs behind the 49ers.
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at New York Giants O/U 47
The Giants will be looking for revenge after losing both games against the Cowboys last season, although they did manage a back-door cover in their Thanksgiving Day matchup. The Giants have made significant improvements on the offensive side, with key additions like Darren Waller and Jalin Hyatt. Daniel Jones, now more comfortable in Brian Daboll's offense, will face the challenge of living up to his new 4-year $160M contract. In 2022, the Giants were the NFL's best team against the spread (ATS), boasting a remarkable 14-5 ATS record.
On the other hand, the Cowboys opted for a veteran approach for most of their major offseason moves. While they successfully retained internal free agents, including the young safety Donovan Wilson, the majority of their re-signings and trade acquisitions were players nearing the age of 30. The Cowboys most notable additions included WR Brandon Cooks and CB Stephon Gilmore.
Buffalo Bills (-1) at New York Jets O/U 46
The Week 1 Monday Night Football matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets presents an illustration of early market opportunities, as there has been a significant difference of opinion among the country's sportsbooks regarding the spread for Aaron Rodgers' debut game as a New York Jet. DraftKings in New Jersey opened the Bills as a -3 favorite, while Westgate in Nevada took a drastically different stance, opening the game as a Pick'em with -110 on either side of the moneyline. Eventually, the Vegas market settled closer to the Westgate number, with the Bills now being 1-point favorites visiting the Meadowlands.
Aaron Rodgers will make his Jets debut on Monday Night Football, and while New Yorkers are excited to have a Super Bowl MVP as their quarterback, it is worth noting that over the past five seasons, teams starting a new quarterback have generally underperformed Vegas expectations, falling over .7 games below their season Win Total on average. An example of this is Russell Wilson's crash landing in Denver last year. Rodgers may need some time to adjust to his new situation, making this game an early-season statement for both teams. The Bills, led by Josh Allen, have the advantage of continuity.
As the season progresses, Buffalo fans may be disappointed that four of the five warm-weather teams they host in 2023 – Miami, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, and Tampa Bay – will face them before November 1st. Only the Dallas Cowboys will have to brave the elements when they fly up to Orchard Park in Week 15, on December 17th. The Bills and Jets are expected to be top competitors in the AFC East, with the Jets' odds to win the division steadily increasing as the Rodgers trade became more of a reality. Currently, New York is at +230 to win the division, placing them as the second favorites behind the Buffalo Bills, who opened at even money and are now at +135 odds to repeat as AFC East Champions.