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NFL Week 1 Odds and Best Bets

Max Gilson
Written by Max Gilson
September 8, 2023
NFL Week 1 Odds and Best Bets

Raise your hand if you are ready for Scott Hanson to guide us through our first seven hours of commercial free football in 2023! We’ll look to highlight a few games from the Sunday slate where you can get in on the action on opening weekend.

Before we dig into the games, let's talk about our money management system. For these plays, we're either betting 0.5 units or 0.75 units. Our 0.5-unit plays will be 1% of our overall bankroll while our 0.75-unit plays will be for 1.5%.

0.75 Unit: Buccaneers (+6) over Vikings

After Tom Brady’s retirement this offseason (for real this time), the public has seemed to write the Buccaneers off into the depths of the NFL as they come into Week 1 as a six-point underdog against the Minnesota Vikings. Firstly, the 2022 Vikings will go down in NFL history as one of the flukiest seasons of all time.

The Vikings finished 13-4 in the regular season, but with a Pythagorean Win total of just 8.4, meaning they were only expected to win 8.4 games based on their points scored and allowed differences. The team was 11-0 in one score games and finished 27th in DVOA.

Vikings fans should be expecting a harsh correction to the mean and based on their offseason moves, I think Minnesota is in for a long season. The talent on this offense (Justin Jefferson/TJ Hockenson) can keep this offense at a relatively high floor (they finished 20th in DVOA in 2022). However, Kirk Cousins still isn’t better than an average Quarterback and this offensive line, despite Tackle standouts Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill leave something to be desired in pass protection.

Where I think Minnesota will continue to struggle is on defense where they could produce one of the league's worst secondaries. They drafted rookie CB Mekhi Blackmon to replace the aging Patrick Peterson and signed Byron Murphy coming off season ending back surgery.

Outside of this they haven’t made any impact moves to address their secondary. Outside of Danielle Hunter, I think Minnesota will continue to struggle to pressure the QB. They also lost Dalvin Tomlinson, their best run stopper up the middle.

The Bucs are rolling with Baker Mayfield to start the year, who hasn’t lived up to his #1 draft pick pedigree. We know that Baker isn’t particularly effective or accurate, but he has shown flashes of decent quarterback play.

Paired with a great wide receiver room featuring Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, I don’t think the Vikings are well equipped to stop the Bucs passing attack despite Mayfield’s career struggles. The Bucs offensive line might also prove to be an issue during the season, but again, the Vikings lack an impact pass rush that tips the scales as much as the point spread would imply.

While this is not the Bucs defense that beat Patrick Mahomes in the Superbowl a few years ago, they’ve retained their impact pieces and drafted Calijah Kancey, who should make an immediate impact in the pass rush.

For as difficult as it may be to watch the Bucs in 2023, I can’t justify a point spread of 6 in a game where Tampa Bay should be live to win it outright.

0.5 Unit: Falcons (-3.5) over Panthers

Close your eyes and hold your nose as we stay in the NFC South for a divisional matchup featuring the lowest total on the board at 39.5. The under has been hit multiple times over the summer after thots total opened up at around 43.

#1 overall pick Bryce Young gets his first NFL action against what could be a much-improved Atlanta Falcons defense. The Falcons were the 30th ranked defense by DVOA in 2022 at +11.1%.

The Falcons have struggled to pressure the quarterback in recent years but signed veteran DE Calais Campbell as well as LB Bud Dupree to play alongside DT Grady Jarrett.

Projections are also favorable on their 3rd round pick Zach Harrison, who should see immediate playing time as they will need to cycle in pass rushers with the relative age of this veteran unit. A league average pass rush should be enough to cause issues against this extremely porous Carolina offensive line.

Although the Carolina rebuild is just getting started, it’s going to be a rough start for Bryce Young. He lacks any playmaking talent in his wide receiver room after the Panthers traded DJ Moore to swap with Chicago to be able to select Young.

Coming into Week 1 the Panthers project to trot out Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, and Terrance Marshall at wide receiver. Chark is likely out for Week 1 and Adam Thielen has already found himself on the injury report with an ankle injury. This team lacks the playmakers necessary to get open and allow Bryce Young to move the ball down field as he attempts to adjust to NFL game speed.

As Atlanta doubles down on their run first mentality after drafting Bijan Robinson #8 overall, I think this game will have an extremely slow pace, dominated by inefficient offense from the Panthers side.

I have a hard time seeing how the Panthers score at the beginning of the season and am comfortable laying -3.5 with Atlanta. I’m high on Atlanta this season and only expect to see this line go the other way come Sunday. If bettors were running to take the hook with Carolina, the line wouldn’t have held strong up until this point.

0.5 Unit: Panthers Team Total Under 17.5

As mentioned, I think the Panthers struggle to score here and I’ll take the team total under at Caesar’s who is still hanging -110, while post of the market has started to shade this line towards the under.

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