It is officially game week. After a long offseason, the NFL returns this week for the first time since the Los Angeles Rams knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals during the Super Bowl in February.
Because it is game week, we have to get used to a similar routine. The first official injury reports won’t start being provided by teams until Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start thinking about what bets to place for Week 1 of the 2022-23 NFL regular season. You typically don’t want to wait until Sunday to make your bets, as lines are generally more efficient the closer we get to kickoff.
I’m already eying the Chicago Bears as a touchdown underdog for one of my bets this week. But let’s take a look at the rest of the slate to see what other spreads jump out at this point in the week, and don’t be afraid to pounce on these lines as we get more information about who is available.
All of the betting lines are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, which is the official odds partner of Bet Chicago Sports. Sign up today to take advantage of their new-user offer to get your risk-free $1,250 bet and get in on the action for Week 1.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+6.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, Sept. 11, noon, CBS
It is important to remember weird things tend to happen in Week 1. Look no further than the Pittsburgh Steelers winning outright in the 2021 opener as a 6.5-point underdog against the mighty Buffalo Bills with a 23-16 victory in Buffalo. Underdogs went 12-4 against the spread in Week 1 last year, which included nine outright upsets.
While Week 1 might not be as weird this year, this line does seem a bit inflated. In this exact matchup during Week 12 of last year, Cincinnati closed as a 3.5-point favorite before an eventual 41-10 victory.
The Steelers seemed to have upgraded at quarterback, which might seem hard to believe. The Bengals were a team ranked 17th in overall DVOA (a metric created by Football Outsiders) and were on the right side of multiple different coin-flip games during their magical postseason run. This matchup between AFC North foes could be closer than anticipated this week.
Pick: Steelers +6.5
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Detroit Lions
Sunday, Sept. 11, noon
Make sure to shop around for the best number because there are some sportsbooks putting this spread at 3.5. The Lions were a team that won bettors a lot of money last year, going 11-6 against the spread. That is unlikely to be replicated. Prior to last season, the Lions last recorded double-digits wins ATS in 2010.
Detroit’s defense ranked 32nd in all of football last year, per Pro Football Focus. Jalen Hurts was limited in his first full season as a starter for the Eagles, but produced a 90.8 passer rating when playing from a clean pocket. A trendy MVP pick, Hurts should set the tone for the season by carving up the Lions’ defense with his dual-threat ability.
Pick: Eagles -4
Arizona Cardinals (+6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, Sept. 11, 3:25 pm, CBS
This line has been moving in Kansas City’s favor for quite some time, opening at three points before finally trickling up to a full six points Tuesday morning. As a result, this is my first official spread bet for Week 1. The line movement has gone too far, considering the context around both of these teams.
The Chiefs have the best quarterback on the planet, but they are also mixing in a lot of new faces at the receiver position. They will eventually figure it out, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it didn’t fully click right away.
Meanwhile, this is the exact time to bet on the Cardinals. They are a team that tends to start out strong before fading down the stretch. Arizona started off 7-0 last year before eventually ending the season with a dud in the Wild Card round. The Chiefs could very well win this game, but this much market movement opens the door to buy back on the Cardinals.
Pick: Cardinals +6
Minnesota Vikings (+1.5) vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, Sept. 11, 3:25 pm, FOX
I’m not ready to proclaim the Minnesota Vikings as NFC North champs like some are starting to do, but I do like them for Week 1.
Similar to the Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers have to adjust to life without their star receiver after trading away Davante Adams in the offseason. There are also health concerns at the position early in the week, which could ultimately move the line before things get underway.
The Vikings recorded a 34-31 victory over the Packers at home in Week 11 of last year, which was one of the rare one-score games that went their way in 2021. Nobody knows what this team will look like under a new regime, but I’m betting on the Kevin O’Connell era getting off to a strong start against a division foe.
Pick: Vikings +1.5