NFL Week 1 predictions and betting tips

NFL Week 1 predictions and betting tips
August 25, 2023: Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) before the NFL matchup against the Detroit Lions in Charlotte, NC. (Scott Kinser/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA) Photo by Icon sport

Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season got off to an exciting start after the Detroit Lions defeated the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs 21-20 in Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday.

The remaining 15 games of the week will shine the spotlight on certain players, such as two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers, who is now a member of the New York Jets, and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young, who will make his Carolina Panthers debut.

There will be plenty of opportunities to bet, so we’ll share three NFL Week 1 predictions below.

NFL Week 1 predictions: Alternate spread bet

Note: The odds (American and decimal) for all three picks in this article were correct at the time of writing.

Atlanta (-3) to cover vs. Carolina @ -135 (1.74)

The Falcons are currently 3.5-point favorites at home against the Panthers and their rookie quarterback, Young. Buying half a point or taking the alternate spread (-3) at -135 odds ensures even if Atlanta wins by a field goal, the bet will at least push.

I’m going to lean with history on this pick. Since 2003, quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall are 1-13 against the spread and 1-13-1 straight up in their debuts.

It’s tough to start any regular season NFL game for the first time, but doing so on the road makes it even more difficult.

The Falcons weren’t a bottom-of-the-barrel team last season either, even if it appears so. Arthur Smith managed to go 7-10 in his first season as head coach and managed to bounce back after starting 0-2.

The organization was competitive in almost every contest, with eight of their losses coming by one score or less.

Second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder (2-2 as a starter) certainly didn’t have the accolades of Bryce Young during college (won the 2022 Heisman), but he ended the 2022 NFL campaign with back-to-back wins over the Cardinals (20-19) and Buccaneers (30-17).

Carolina has an extremely weak receiving corps, and the lack of weapons at Young’s disposal will likely pose problems against an up and coming Falcons team that went 6-3 at home in 2022.

NFL Week 1 betting tips: Player props

Note: Player stats for props do include overtime.

Alexander Mattison to record 50 or more rushing yards @ -146 (1.68)

After serving as the backup running back to Dalvin Cook since 2019, Alexander Mattison is now the primary back in Minnesota and will face Tampa Bay on Sunday.

The former third-round pick showed enough glimpses of talent over the years that the Vikings front office decided it was time to move on from Cook and hand the reins to Mattison.

Last year, Mattison only had one game where he recorded double-digit carries (10) and managed to record 54 yards.

Since entering the league four years ago, when the Boise State product has received 12 or more carries, he’s eclipsed the 50-yard mark in 81.8% of contests (9-of-11).

Games when Mattison had 12+ carries

  • Dec. 26, 2021 vs. LAR: 13 carries for 41 yards
  • Dec. 5, 2021 @ DET: 22 carries for 90 yards
  • Oct. 10, 2021 vs. DET: 25 carries for 113 yards
  • Sept. 26, 2021 vs. SEA: 26 carries for 112 yards
  • Jan. 3, 2021 @ DET: 21 carries for 95 yards
  • Nov. 8, 2020 vs. DET: 12 carries for 69 yards
  • Oct. 11, 2020 @ SEA: 20 carries for 112 yards
  • Dec. 8, 2019 vs. DET: 14 carries for 46 yards
  • Oct 24, 2019 vs. WAS: 13 carries for 61 yards
  • Oct. 13, 2019 vs. PHI: 14 carries for 63 yards
  • Sept. 22, 2019 vs. OAK: 12 carries for 58 yards

In 2022, Kevin O’Connell fed his main back, Cook, well with 14 or more carries in 13-of-18 games, including the postseason. With O’Connell once again calling plays this season, it’s likely Mattison will receive the rock often.

Tampa Bay’s rush defense was ranked in the middle of the pack (15th) in rushing yards allowed (120.7) per game in 2022, which is a good sign for Mattison.

What’s even better is Baker Mayfield is now the starting quarterback for the Buccaneers. Mayfield has struggled in recent years and has a win-loss record of 33-39 over the course of his career.

If things go according to plan, and the Vikings lead for most of the matchup, the game script will favor Mattison receiving even more totes of the football.

FantasyPros’ model has six sources of data analytic websites, including ESPN, CBS Sports, and Numberfire, projecting Mattison to record 14.7 carries for 62.5 yards, 12.5 more than the 50 needed to cash this pick successfully.

NFL Week 1 predictions and betting tips
Nov 7, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Baltimore Ravens place kicker Justin Tucker (9) during warm-ups before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome. Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA – Photo by Icon sport

Justin Tucker over 1.5 FGs @ -135 (1.74)

Why not start week one off with a bet on Justin Tucker? He is currently the most accurate kicker in NFL history, with a 90.254% conversion rate.

Since week 4 of last year’s campaign, Tucker has made two or more field goals in 11-of-14 (78.6%) of regular season games. Throughout that span, he’s attempted an average of 2.86 field goals per contest.

Having such a talented kicker allows head coach John Harbaugh almost to take guaranteed points. Tucker’s also attempted three or more kicks in four of the past five outings.

Houston, Baltimore’s week one opponent, allowed 1.9 field goal attempts last season, while Baltimore averaged 2.4 (second in the league).

The -135 odds are extremely valuable on FanDuel compared to other books, such as Bet365, listing him at -175 to make over 1.5 attempts successfully.

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