It’s that time of the year once again: regular season NFL football is back. Three days after Labor Day, the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams will host the on-the-cusp of greatness Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football. Then on Sunday, one of the greatest days of the entire season takes place: the first full slate of games. 28 teams will square off on Sunday, September 11, as just as the Cincinnati Bengals showed last season, almost any team is capable of making it to the Super Bowl, despite what the experts and bloggers think.

But what am I if not an NFL blogger? I sure didn’t see the Bengals making a run to the Super Bowl last season, and I’m sure there’s many Week 1 results that will surprise us given what we currently know about the league’s 32 teams.

Highlight games in Week 1 include:

  • Thursday Night Football Opener: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams
  • AFC East Clash: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
  • Early NFC North Battle: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
  • Electric Quarterback Play: Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
  • Sunday Night Football Offensive Showdown: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
  • Monday Night Football Reunion: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

With no shortage of juicy games, let’s dive right in to my Week 1 picks. To debate or discuss these picks, be sure to join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.

Picks Record

2020-21 NFL Season: 157-98-1 (62%)

2021-22 NFL Season: 178-93-1 (66%)

Both of the last two seasons, I finished with a firm winning record with a correct pick at or above 62% of the time each season. Last year, I increased my rate from 62% to 66%, so I’ll look to stay hot and keep improving for the 2022-23 season.

See Also: 2022-23 NFL Season Predictions and Rankings

Thursday Night Football

(Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Sak Sports Blog Game of the Week: Buffalo Bills (0-0) at Los Angeles Rams (0-0)

Line: Buffalo Bills (-2.5)

The 2022-23 NFL season kicks off with a real doozy on Thursday Night Football: as the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams usher in the new season as they host an electric Buffalo Bills team. It doesn’t get much better than this: Buffalo and Los Angeles are the top two teams in my Preseason Power Rankings, and could very well be the two teams to meet in Super Bowl 57.

Buffalo being favored on the road may have to do with hype, as expectations as sky-high for Josh Allen and the Bills after an incredible offensive season 2021 as well as the addition of Von Miller to an already talented defense. Miller will play against the Rams, the team he just won a Super Bowl with seveen mnths ago, in Wek 1.

The only way this game could be better is if we got it laster in the season. Play can be a little sloppier in Week 1, but that’s something both teams have to deal with.

Matthew Stafford and the Rams do have home-field advantage and Super Bowl winners historically do well in Week 1 openers, but I have to go with the hype here: give me Buffalo to start hot.

Bills win 28-22, Bills win ATS

Sunday Games

(NFL.com, Getty Images/Ebony Bird)

Baltimore Ravens (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)

Line: Baltimore Ravens (-7.0)

Not all my picks will be as long as that Thursday Night Football monologue: I don’t need to embellish on why the Baltimore Ravens will beat the New York Jets. The Jets did get much better in the offseason, but getting Lamar Jackson on the field will be more than enough to lift the Ravens to a Week 1 win.

This game does feature the interesting wrinkle of former Super Bowl-winning Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco starting for New York, as Zach Wilson misses the season opener with a knee injury.

Ravens win 34-13, Ravens win ATS

New Orleans Saints (0-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-0)

Line: New Orleans Saints (-5.5)

Jameis Winston and Dennis Allen get an easy start to the New Orleans Saints 2022-23 campaign, playing a weak Atlanta Falcons team. Marcus Mariota isn’t a bad quarterback, but Atlanta is down Calvin Ridley (suspended) and first-round pick Drake London (injury.) Allen should be able to ring in his Saints coaching career with a 1-0 start.

Saints win 26-17, Saints win ATS

San Francisco 49ers (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)

Line: San Francisco 49ers (-7.0)

It’ll be two young guns going at it, with a first round draft pick from last year’s draft starting on both sides at quarterback. Trey Lance has assumed starting duties for the San Francisco 49ers, and he’s supported by Pro Bowl talent on both offense and defense. Justin Fields doesn’t get the same level of support from his Chicago Bears, and for that reason, the 49ers should pick up the road win.

49ers win 27-13, 49ers win ATS

(CBS Sports)

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)

Line: Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)

The Pittsburgh Steelers officially named Mitch Trubisky their starting quarterback for Week 1. While I’m not super high on the Steelers in my AFC North predictions, I don’t see any reason why they can’t at least compete in this game. The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a thrilling run to a Super Bowl appearance, but now Joe Burrow and company will be tasked with backing up their play for another year. I think Cincinnati will win, but the game will be sneaky close.

Bengals win 24-20, Steelers win ATS

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0)

Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-4.0)

Look, I can’t go all chalk, especially in Week 1. The Philadelphia Eagles are the better team here, but maybe they slip up in the season opener with a different looking offense. A.J. Brown is a tremendous target for Jalen Hurts to throw to, but the connection might not be instantaneous. This upset pick isn’t even about the improvements the Detroit Lions made in the offseason, but more a prediction of a sluggish start for Philadelphia’s offense.

Lions win 31-17, Lions win ATS

New England Patriots (0-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-0)

Line: Miami Dolphins (-3.0)

This one’s tough, with the home Miami Dolphins’ three-point betting edge indicating what is more-or-less a toss-up in a neutral site. I’m not a huge fan of the way the New England Patriots roster is trending, and I think Miami will actually finish ahead of New England in the AFC East this season.

On the other hand, like what I just said about Philadelphia, the Dolphins offense has some changes to adapt too. From shifts at running back and offensive line to the highlight acquisition of Tyreek Hill, Miami’s offense has a high ceiling. But will Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins be ready to roar in Week 1, or will there be some growing pains?

While I think it’s possible the Dolphins come out strong, I’ll give the toss-up to the Patriots: this Bill Belichick guy has coached a couple more Week 1 openers than Dolphins rookie head coach Mike McDaniels if I’m not mistaken.

Patriots win 24-20, Patriots win ATS

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) at Washington Commanders (0-0)

Line: Washington Commanders (-3.0)

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ hefty spending spree in free agency barely amounts to any more wins this season in my book. The Jaguars don’t have the talent to elevate Trevor Lawrence’s play, and overpaying Christian Kirk and Evan Engram won’t fix that. The Washington Commanders were half-decent last season, and Carson Wentz makes them a bit better on paper. I’m surprised Washington is only favored by three points at home, I think this could be an easy win for the Commanders (in their first game under the new team moniker!)

Commanders win 33-16, Commanders win ATS

Cleveland Browns (0-0) at Carolina Panthers (0-0)

Line: Carolina Panthers (-2.5)

I didn’t mention this game in my list of highlighted matchups, but this is a slightly spicy one. Baker Mayfield gets the start for the Carolina Panthers ater being traded away by the Cleveland Browns over the summer. Mayfield doesn’t have to wait any tme at all for a shot at rvenge, bt the only thing stopping this game from being even more drama-filled is Deshaun Watson’s absence (Jacoby Brissett will start.)

Despite Watson’s absence, I don’t think Cleveland will do horrible with Brissett at the helm, but I do think it could take a couple weeks for the offense to get into rhythm. I could see Mayfield and Christian McCaffrey having big days in their home opener.

Panthers win 27-18, Panthers win ATS

Indianapolis Colts (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)

Line: Indianapolis Colts (-8.0)

The Indianapolis Colts finished last season red-hot, and will look to swing that momentum in to 2022 with Matt Ryan now at the helm instead of Carson Wentz. Even if there’s any adjusting time for Ryan, Jonathan Taylor should be able to run the ball over this Houston Texans team, and the Colts should cruise to a Week 1 win.

Colts win 28-17, Colts win ATS

Green Bay Packers (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)

Line: Green Bay Packers (-1.5)

My inclination here is to pick the Minnesota Vikings at home: the Green Bay Packers a few pieces short of last year’s team, and while Aaron Rodgers may be talented enough to find a way to get it done without Davante Adams, it’s reasonable to think the offense may not be as high-flying as last season off the bat. The Vikings, on the other hand, are putting together an offensive juggernaut, from Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and the newly acquired Jalen Reagor.

But I’m not betting against Rodgers finding a way to pull this one out. The Packers defense is also pretty good, even if Za’Darius Smith left Green Bay for… Minnesota.

This should be a thrilling NFC North battle that could go either way, but again, I’ll take the Packers, potentially in fourth quarter comeback/game-winning drive fashion.

Packers win 26-24, Packers win ATS

Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-0)

Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5)

This should be a fun one, with Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray representing two of the Top 10 quarterbacks in the game. While it would be a great opening win for the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs are the better and more consistent team. If Kansas City’s offense struggles without Tyeek Hill, this could be close, but Mahomes has plenty of other ways to get the ball in the endzone.

Chiefs win 36-24, Chiefs win ATS

(Sky Sports)

Las Vegas Raiders (0-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-0)

Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-3.0)

In what could be an electric affair, two AFC West rivals, the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers, will clash on Sunday afternoon. This is a rematch of Week 18 from last season, where Derek Carr and the Raiders outlasted Justin Herbert and the Chargers in overtime to qualify for the playoffs in the NFL’s final regular season game.

While the stakes are lower here, that game was just eight months ago. This rematch is still important as both teams look to establish a pecking order in a crowded, competitive AFC West.

While the Raiders made a splashier move in giving Carr a new weapon in All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, the Chargers made fundamentally sound moves on the defensive side of the ball. These adjustments should make a tangible difference for Los Angeles, and it will be apparent in Week 1 when they beat a team they couldn’t beat just eight months ago.

Chargers win 27-24, PUSH ATS

New York Giants (0-0) at Tennessee Titans (0-0)

Line: Tennessee Titans (-5.5)

The New York Giants have a new look and feel under first-time head coach Brian Daboll. But it would likely take above average days from Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, the receiving corps, and the defense. Asking everything to click in Week 1 after last season’s dumpster fire is a lot to ask. I expect Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans to slowly chip away at the Giants defense and tack on points all game long, as well as a heavy dose of Derrick Henry.

Titans win 31-16, Titans win ATS

Sunday Night Football

(NFL.com)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)

Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.0)

Last season, Tom Brady and the then-defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 at the final buzzer of the Week 1, season-opening kickoff game. While the Buccaneers and Cowboys failed to meet again in the postseason, negating Dak Prescott’s promise that the two teams would clash again last season, the NFL has decided to treat us with another Week 1 clash between these offensive juggernauts.

Dallas and Tampa Bay finished #1 and #2 in scoring last season, in that order. Fireworks should be flying on Sunday Night Football, and it could very much be a game of whichever team has the ball last.

Overall, the Buccaneers are the better team, especially on defense. The Cowboys also traded away their top pass-catcher, Amari Cooper. But something tells me Prescott is still going to churn out yards and touchdowns in Dallas’ offense. If this matchup was played in a best-of-seven series (oh man, how fun that would be) the Cowboys would definitely knock a couple off on Tampa Bay. In this near-toss-up situation, give me the Cowboys, avenging last year’s loss.

Cowboys win 34-30, Cowboys win ATS

Monday Night Football

(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Denver Broncos (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0)

Line: Denver Broncos (-6.5)

To wrap up Week 1, we have another reunion game: revenge isn’t an appropriate word because there shouldn’t really be hard feelings on either side. In the biggest move of the entire offseason, the Seattle Seahawks sent nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for picks and players.

Seattle’s future is brighter as a result of that trade, but their present isn’t looking like anything special. Denver, on the other hand, has aspirations to improve on last year’s 7-10 record and make the playoffs with Wilson at the helm. I think they have a great shot to do so, and beating Geno Smith and a rebuilding Seahawks team in Seattle should be an easy first step to Wilson’s Broncos career: as well as a poetic one.

Broncos win 30-17, Broncos win ATS

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Header Photo Credits (L-R): Header Photo Via The Sports Rush

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