The 2023 NFL season begins on September 7 in the current center of the professional football world: Kansas City, MO. The hometown Chiefs will receive their Super Bowl rings and hang another championship banner at Arrowhead just over seven months after lifting the Lombardi Trophy in Arizona.
Kansas City also hosted the 2023 NFL Draft in the spring, and the defending champs will welcome the Detroit Lions to town for the first game of the season just after Labor Day.
With Week 1 lines available at most outlets, we have zeroed in on some spots where we’ll be wagering in advance and handicap our early best bets next.
How about kicking the season off by taking the under in the game with the lowest point total? Washington was 24th in scoring offense and 7th in scoring defense last season, and they let go of both players who started the majority of the games at quarterback for the previous two seasons, Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz.
In Arizona, a regime change is fully underway with a new general manager, Monti Ossenfort, and head coach, Jonathan Gannon, in place.
Gannon brings a defensive background to his leadership perspective, and the Cardinals' offense is a question mark after the departure of DeAndre Hopkins and inconsistent production in 2022. We expect this to add up to a low-scoring opener for both teams.
Desmond Ridder and Bryce Young look set to be the Week 1 starters for these familiar foes. The last time they suited up against one another was the 2022 Cotton Bowl, played as the CFP semifinal between Cincinnati and Alabama.
Young got the better of Ridder that day, throwing three touchdowns in a Crimson Tide rout. The line has swung six points from its opening number, where Carolina was favored by a field goal on the road in this NFC South matchup.
The Panthers lost by three in overtime last year in Atlanta, but that required some late heroics that will be difficult to repeat with a new coaching staff and key roster changes.
The Bucs are among the bottom five teams in the league, according to oddsmakers. They’re currently being offered around 80-1 ahead of their first season post-Tom Brady, but a Week 1 road matchup with the unpredictable Vikings might be a good spot.
Tampa was 10th in total defense and 13th in points allowed last season, while the Vikings struggled to bottom-four marks in both categories.
Minnesota winning this matchup would be the expectation, but we think Tampa will keep this game within a touchdown to cover the spread.
Defensively, San Francisco was the top unit in the NFL last season, allowing a league-low 277 points and 3.4 yards per carry to opposing teams. Pittsburgh was tenth in scoring defense and managed to be in Wild Card contention despite an offense that scored 18 points per game.
The quarterback situation in San Francisco is trending toward some continuity from last season if Brock Purdy starts Week 1. There’s no doubt Trey Lance will be competing to earn his spot back after injuries caused him to miss all but eight games in his first two professional seasons.
With Pittsburgh struggling to move the ball through the air (24th in passing offense in 2022) and the 49ers' ability to stop their ground attack, we like this total to finish safely under 41.