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NFL Week 1 game picks and predictions

The 2022 NFL season is finally here, and with it our picks and predictions for all sixteen games in Week 1. Highlights this week: opening night featuring the Bills and Rams, and Sunday Night Football featuring the Bucs and Cowboys.

Los Angeles Rams v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The 2022 NFL season is officially here! We’re about to depart on an 18-week regular season journey which should hopefully be fun for us Atlanta Falcons fans and not cripplingly depressing. Of course, there are other teams in the league as well, so while you’ll be getting our entire staff’s picks for all of the Falcons’ games, I’ll be making the picks for the other 31 teams each and every week.

For those that followed along last year, welcome back. For those that didn’t, here’s a quick primer on my performance. I began picking partway through the season—sorry about that—but wound up finishing with a 136-89-1 record after a rough start. I’m hoping to improve on that in 2022 by kicking things off in Week 1 instead in Week 8.

Speaking of Week 1, we’ve got an excellent slate of games this week beginning with a terrific matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football. Sunday Night Football features a tilt between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys, while Monday Night Football is the coveted “Russell Wilson revenge game” between the new-look Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

Let’s get right to the picks, which I’ll be making on a straight moneyline (aka picking the winner) basis. I’ll still provide the information for the spread and over/under, for those interested.

All odds are taken from DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change. See the current odds here.

Thursday Night Football: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams

The pick: Rams (+110)

Spread: Bills -2 | Over/Under: 51.5 | Moneyline: Bills -130, Rams +110

The NFL’s season-opener is an incredible one, as usual, featuring a very spicy matchup between arguably the AFC’s biggest contender in the Bills and the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams. I’m actually a little surprised that the Bills are road favorites in this one, considering the big time-zone change and the fact that the Rams are, y’know, really good. This is an easy underdog pick—you always have to squeeze a few of those in—and I like the Rams in a close, hard-fought game to open the season.

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets

The pick: Ravens (-315)

Spread: Ravens -7 | Over/Under: 44.5 | Moneyline: Ravens -315, Jets +260

It was just announced that Joe Flacco will start at quarterback for the Jets in Week 1, which might actually be a good thing for New York’s chances. Still, the Ravens are the superior team with the better roster and QB. Ravens take care of business.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

The pick: Colts (-320)

Spread: Colts -7 | Over/Under: 45.5 | Moneyline: Colts -320, Texans +265

Matt Ryan’s first career game playing for a team that isn’t the Atlanta Falcons will be bittersweet, but he gets what should be an easy introduction with the Colts. The Texans are one of the weakest rosters in the league, and Indianapolis should take control early.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

The pick: Bengals (-280)

Spread: Bengals -6.5 | Over/Under: 44 | Moneyline: Bengals -280, Steelers +235

The reigning AFC Champions take on the division rival Steelers in what should be an interesting first look at the Steelers without longtime starting QB Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. While I think Trubisky is a solid option for them, I don’t think Pittsburgh will be able to withstand Cincinnati’s offensive onslaught.

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears

The pick: 49ers (-295)

Spread: 49ers -7 | Over/Under: 41 | Moneyline: 49ers -295, Bears

Despite much of the national media predicting that the Falcons will be the worst team in the NFL this year, I think the clear favorite should be the Chicago Bears. The offensive roster is an absolute disaster that Justin Fields and a new, offensive-minded head coach can’t fix. San Francisco’s defense is a brutal first test that won’t end well.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

The pick: Saints (-230)

Spread: Saints -5.5 | Over/Under: 42 | Moneyline: Saints -230, Falcons +195

Bettors are extremely high on the Saints heading in to Week 1, which I think is pretty foolish. However, I must once again try to give New Orleans the “kiss of death” by picking them to win. I don’t think the Falcons should be favored, to be clear, but this is one of the most obvious upset opportunities of the week. I’m not a betting man, but Falcons +195 is pretty tempting for a home underdog.

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers

The pick: Panthers (-125)

Spread: Panthers -1.5 | Over/Under: 42 | Moneyline: Panthers -125, Browns +105

This looks like one of the worst games of Week 1, as the Browns will be starting backup QB Jacoby Brissett against an uninspiring Panthers team. Carolina has tended to start hot under Matt Rhule (before falling apart in epic fashion), and I expect that to continue. Also, I cannot possibly root for the Browns, for obvious reasons.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

The pick: Dolphins (-170)

Spread: Dolphins -3.5 | Over/Under: 46.5 | Moneyline: Dolphins -170, Patriots +145

These are two teams headed in completely opposite directions, and yet the lines don’t seem to reflect this at all. New England could possibly have the worst offense in the NFL, while the Dolphins—even if Tua isn’t as good as many hope—have made major improvements across the roster. Miami by a lot.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders

The pick: Jaguars (+115)

Spread: Commanders -2.5 | Over/Under: 44 | Moneyline: Commanders -135, Jaguars +115

The Washington Commanders somehow found a way to get an even more boring quarterback, moving from Taylor Heinicke to Carson Wentz. Jacksonville isn’t exactly an inspiring roster, but I still believe in Trevor Lawrence—particularly with a competent coaching staff behind him. I like the Jags in the slight upset.

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions

The pick: Eagles (-190)

Spread: Eagles -4 | Over/Under: 49 | Moneyline: Eagles -190, Lions +160

This game (and the betting lines) are an interesting peek into the national discourse surrounding these teams. For instance, everyone is high on the Lions despite their 3-13-1 finish and the fact that their roster—outside of the offensive line—isn’t meaningfully different than Atlanta’s. The spread and odds are tighter despite the Eagles being objectively a better team than the Saints. This is one where the bettors are too invested in offseason narratives and not enough on the guys on the field—Philadelphia takes care of business by multiple scores. This is not meant as a slight against the Lions, who I enjoy, more a commentary on the perception of both teams.

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans

The pick: Titans (-250)

Spread: Titans -5.5 | Over/Under: 43.5 | Moneyline: Titans -250, Giants +210

While I do think the Giants will improve in 2022, they face a tough opening-week opponent in the Titans. I seriously doubt the Titans repeat their 12-5 record this year, but they’re still a good team and should handle things at home in Week 1.

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals

The pick: Chiefs -240

Spread: Chiefs -6 | Over/Under: 54 | Moneyline: Chiefs -240, Cardinals +200

I think the Chiefs are, somehow, underrated in 2022. Sure, they lost Tyreek Hill and the wide receiver corps is questionable. They still have arguably the NFL’s best QB in Patrick Mahomes and best TE in Travis Kelce. I think Kansas City finds a way to make it work in a fireworks show against the Cardinals—who, to their credit, have generally started hot.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

The pick: Packers (-120)

Spread: Packers -1.5 | Over/Under: 47 | Moneyline: Packers -120, Vikings +100

This is a very tough game to predict. Both of these teams have undergone massive changes this offseason. Green Bay appears to be molding itself closer to a Shanahan offense, with an increased emphasis on the run game and a completely different (read: worse) wide receiver group. The Vikings are under new management, which could help or hurt them. I’m sticking with the Packers until they give me reason to doubt them.

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

The pick: Chargers (-180)

Spread: Chargers -3.5 | Over/Under: 52.5 | Moneyline: Chargers -180, Raiders +155

This might be the best afternoon game of Week 1: a hotly-contested first battle for supremacy in the AFC West between the new-look Raiders and the perennially-disappointing Chargers. I have a soft spot in my heart for fellow cursed teams, so I’m leaning Los Angeles in this one—but the loss of CB J.C. Jackson for this week could be significant.

Sunday Night Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys

The pick: Bucs -140

Spread: Bucs -2.5 | Over/Under: 51 | Moneyline: Bucs -140, Cowboys +120

Ah yes, the obligatory “Cowboys in primetime as much as possible” game. This year’s Week 1 version features two teams that I loathe, but in fairness, could produce a very entertaining game. Both teams have lost significant players on the offensive line: Tyron Smith and La’el Collins for Dallas, Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen for Tampa Bay. We’ll have to see how both weather the changes, but I think the Bucs are the superior team.

Monday Night Football: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

The pick: Broncos (-285)

Spread: Broncos -6.5 | Over/Under: 45 | Moneyline: Broncos -285, Seahawks +240

The “Russell Wilson revenge game” will hopefully be a fun, if not very competitive, Monday Night Football opener in Week 1. I know I said that the Bears were the favorite to be the worst team in the NFL, but I think the Seahawks are absolutely in that conversation as well. Meanwhile, Denver is under new management with a roster that looks primed to compete with a competent QB at the helm. Broncos by a lot.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.