NFL Picks Week #1 - Early Edition (2023 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #1)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written July 11th, 2023 at 2 PM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
Yeah baby, it’s time for my first NFL picks of the 2023 regular season! In this post, I will share my three best bets for Week 1. Are you ready for this?
First, an important warning. I am writing this article on July 11, so we are talking about super early betting tips. Depending on when you read this post, it is possible that the line has changed, or that some information I talk about is not accurate anymore. I will release another batch of Week 1 picks approximately one week prior to the start of the season.
I started sharing my own NFL bets with the world in 2017. When betting at -110 odds on point spreads, the break-even winning percentage is 52.4%. As you can see below, we have been profitable in each of the six seasons since then:
Across those six years, we have racked up a 215-175-13 record on point spreads, which amounts to a 55% success rate.
And that does not even include the lucrative NFL player prop bets that I share with paid members at mjpicks.com.
PICK #1: UNDER 41.5 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Pick number one for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is under 41.5 points to be scored in the 49ers versus Steelers game.
The under has hit very often in recent years for both teams in their first game of the season. As a matter of fact, San Francisco’s last 9 games in Week 1 resulted in the under posting an 8-1 record. If you focus on Pittsburgh, each of their past four opening games led to the under being the winning bet.
It is also interesting to note that the Steelers’ past 12 games at home overall yielded a 9-3 record in favor of the under.
At the time I made this post, Brock Purdy’s rehab from UCL surgery was going well. He is expected to be ready in time for Week 1, or close to it. This piece of news seems good on the surface, but that tells me he is likely to miss a good portion of training camp. Will he really be ready to roll? Will he have enough time to develop chemistry with his receivers?
Playing on the road in Pittsburgh is a tough environment for such a young QB. I highly doubt that he will light up the scoreboard in Week 1, especially with the offensive line being a question mark. Except for Trent Williams, they have a lot of uncertainty around that group. Colton McKivitz, who has started just five games in his career, will replace Mike McGlinchey at the right tackle position. And both guards are a source of concern.
Pittsburgh’s offense finished 26th in the NFL in terms of points scored in 2022. Can this unit take a leap in Pickett’s second year as a pro? Yes, it is possible, but maybe not that early in the season against a stout defense.
Last year, the Niners allowed the fewest points in the entire league. Granted, they lost some key guys on defense, but they added Javon Hargrave, formerly of the Eagles. It will be hard to replicate last year’s success, but this unit will remain above average for sure.
So, for all of those reasons, I could see a tight low-scoring affair taking place in Pittsburgh. Give me the under to hit here.
PICK #2: DENVER BRONCOS STRAIGHT UP (VS LAS VEGAS RAIDERS)
Professor MJ’s second NFL pick for Week 1 goes to the Denver Broncos at home against the Raiders. You could elect to grab the -3.5 point spread, but I have personally decided to play it safer by placing a wager on the moneyline.
Since 2010, the “Double Division Revenge” system has generated a 26-15 record against the spread, also called “ATS.” What is this strategy about? It consists of taking teams that lost both meetings from the prior year against a divisional foe. In the current case, Denver was defeated by a nine-point margin in Vegas before losing in overtime at home in Week 11.
Russell Wilson disappointed a lot in his first season in Denver. He posted his worst numbers in his career, while missing the Pro Bowl for just the second time in 11 years. Can he rebound in the 2023 campaign?
I think he has a chance. First, the offensive line was upgraded, especially with the addition of Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. Secondly, Wilson lost between 15 and 20 pounds, which should make him quicker to avoid pressure.
Thirdly, Sean Payton has proven multiple times that he can get the best out of his QBs. Sure, he had Drew Brees under center in New Orleans, but Payton helped make other signal callers look good, including Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill.
Reports from OTAs indicate that Wilson has been getting rid of the ball more quickly than last year. That is probably a good thing given he suffered the highest number of sacks last year: 51 in total.
Wilson should also be more comfortable playing with his teammates for a second year. He’s had a full year to develop some chemistry with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and underrated running back Javonte Williams.
The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, formerly of the 49ers. He will replace Derek Carr who left for New Orleans. Jimmy G underwent foot surgery after signing with Vegas and he is expected to miss OTAs. That’s bad news for Raiders fans since you always want your new QB to have as much time as possible to develop a good connection with his new teammates.
He is likely to be ready to play by the start of the regular season, but this has the looks of a potential fiasco. If he isn’t ready in time, Brian Hoyer would get the nod. He has thrown a total of one TD pass over the past three years, so the Raiders must cross their fingers that Garoppolo will be ready to rock in time.
I don’t like what I’m hearing out of Vegas, while I feel like the Broncos could take a leap in 2023. Give me the Broncos to take this game at Empower Field at Mile High!
PICK #3: DETROIT LIONS +7 (AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS)
My third pick concerns the opening game of the season that will take place Thursday September 7 at Arrowhead Stadium. I am taking the Detroit Lions +7 points in Kansas City.
Here is a betting strategy that has performed well over a long period of time: betting teams that missed the playoffs the prior year when facing a team that did qualify for the postseason. It uses a contrarian approach, which is something I appreciate a lot since I often go against conventional wisdom in order to find good value wagers.
Since the 2003 season, this Week 1 NFL betting system has generated a 71-50-2 record ATS. Last year, you would have obtained a perfect 6-0 record by using this betting angle.
On opening night, nerves are high, and neither team has had time to build some momentum, so it is often best to side with the underdog. Even though the sample is small, I have noticed that the past six road teams on opening night have produced a 4-2 record ATS, including the Bills last year that blew out the Rams by a 21-point margin as 2.5-point favorites.
The Lions were one of the best teams against the spread last season because they exceeded expectations. More specifically, they finished with a 12-5 record ATS, including 5-3 on the road.
Meanwhile, we observed the opposite phenomenon with the Chiefs. Indeed, a gambler taking them every single week would have obtained a 5-11-1 record. Their record at home, from a betting perspective, was even worse: 1-6-1 ATS. The only time they beat the spread was against Seattle, a game in which K.C. was a 10.5-point favorite and won the game by 14!
15 PICKS ON NFL TEAM WIN TOTALS!
Get ready for my famous annual NFL win totals bet recommendations! I started sharing those picks three years ago and they have produced a combined 38-21-4 record, which translates into a lucrative 63.5% success rate.
I have been using advanced statistical techniques in order to predict whether we should bet over or under each NFL team’s projected number of wins. By simulating the NFL season one million times, we have been crushing sportsbooks year after year, and this season should not be any different!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)