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    Week 1 NFL Picks and Predictions: Can the Cowboys and Ravens Put Playoff Disappointments Behind Them?

    As we look ahead to Week 1 of the NFL season, what are our early picks and predictions for all 16 games, and who are our best bets?

    The NFL season is creeping ever closer, and before we know it, Week 1 will be upon us. Accordingly, attention is starting to turn to those 16 opening matchups that will give us our first glimpse of what the 2024 season may have in store for us. Let’s go game by game and give our initial NFL Week 1 picks and predictions, including some of our early best bets.

    NFL Week 1 Odds, Picks, Predictions, and Best Bets

    All odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and correct as of July 10, 2024.

    Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)

    • Moneyline: Ravens +130; Chiefs -155
    • Total: 47

    The two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs begin their season in the traditional manner of hosting the first game. Last year, it was the Detroit Lions who came into Kansas City and upset the Chiefs on what was supposed to be their special night. This year it will be the Baltimore Ravens looking to do the same.

    This game is a repeat of last year’s AFC Championship Game when the Chiefs prevailed while keeping the Ravens’ offense to just 10 points. However, turnovers were a big part of it, with Baltimore turning the ball over three times compared to Kansas City’s zero.

    Look for Baltimore to be out for revenge in Arrowhead against a Chiefs team that has looked a little sluggish in the first month of the season in recent years.

    Pick: Ravens +3

    Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5; Brazil)

    • Moneyline: Packers +105; Eagles -125
    • Total: 48.5

    For the first time, the NFL heads to Brazil, and it gives us a Friday Night Football game in Week 1. These two teams are among the favorites to win the NFC in 2024, so this has the potential to be an exciting game in São Paulo.

    The Green Bay Packers finished the 2023 season as one of the hottest teams, while the Philadelphia Eagles lost six of their final seven after starting the year 10-1. Across the last two years, the Eagles are 20-2 in their combined first 11 games of the year, so they’re a team that has learned to start well under Nick Sirianni.

    In contrast, the Packers have struggled in the early part of the year, going a combined 5-5 in their first five games of the last two years. Taking Philadelphia to cover is the lean option, but after this Eagles team completely lost it late last season, it’s hard to trust them.

    Pick: Lean Eagles -1.5

    Arizona Cardinals at Buffalo Bills (-7)

    • Moneyline: Cardinals +285; Bills -360
    • Total: 48

    The Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills have had somewhat forgettable offseasons outside of adding some high-level pass-catching talent in the draft. The Cardinals should be better in 2024, with Kyler Murray set to start the year under center. However, it’s hard to see a four-win team from last year upsetting an 11-win Bills team who went 6-1 in their final seven games.

    If this game was in December, give me the Bills to cover seven points in the cold Buffalo air against a warm-weather team that plays in a dome. However, in September, the weather should be somewhat negated, and Arizona’s offense should be able to keep it close. This has the feeling of an offensive-dominated game, so my lean here is to the over as opposed to either side of this spread.

    Pick: Lean Over 48

    Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)

    • Moneyline: Jaguars +150; Dolphins -180
    • Total: 49

    The 2024 season opens with a battle between two of the three Florida teams in an intriguing contest. The Jacksonville Jaguars were underwhelming last year and entered this season with major question marks after paying Trevor Lawrence before seeing if he has what it takes to lead them on a long playoff run.

    Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins are in a contract standoff with Tua Tagovailoa after his impressive start to the 2023 season petered out into yet another playoff disappointment. Both of these teams have a huge amount to prove, and this Week 1 contest could have importance down the line in what is expected to be a tight AFC battle this year.

    PLAYOFF PREDICTOR: Simulate The 2024 NFL Season

    The Dolphins were very impressive at home in the early part of last season, going 4-0 with a total of 174 points scored before their trip to Germany and their subsequent bye week. The Jaguars also started 4-0 on the road last year, including impressive wins in Buffalo and New Orleans.

    This is a really tough game to judge in terms of the result, but I do expect there to be plenty of scoring. Jacksonville averaged 22.2 points per game last year, while Miami was at 29.2, so the over is very much in play here between two offensive-minded teams.

    Pick: Over 49

    Houston Texans (-1.5) at Indianapolis Colts

    • Moneyline: Texans -122; Colts +102
    • Total: 48

    The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts are the two AFC South teams that appear to be on an upward trajectory. C.J. Stroud was a revelation as a rookie and will hope to continue a strong start to his NFL career. Meanwhile, Anthony Richardson will be desperate to make his mark after losing most of his rookie season to injury.

    Richardson showed that he was an X-factor last year, and this Colts roster has several good players in multiple positions. Indianapolis beat Houston convincingly on the road early last year with Richardson under center, and I expect them to be very competitive in this matchup.

    With both teams set up to have an explosive offense, the over is very much in play here. However, with Richardson’s style and questionable injury history, that can only be a lean. If he gets hurt early in the game, the Colts’ offense could stutter in the first month of the season.

    Pick: Lean Over 48

    Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants (-1)

    • Moneyline: Vikings -108; Giants -112
    • Total: 41.5

    This game is as tough to call as any on the slate simply because of the unknowns.

    What version of Daniel Jones will we see? Can Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy get this Minnesota Vikings offense firing in the same way we saw Kirk Cousins operate it? My advice is to stay as far away from this game as possible.

    Pick: No Play

    New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals (-9)

    • Moneyline: Patriots +320; Bengals -410
    • Total: 43

    With a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, and new quarterback, the New England Patriots are perhaps the biggest unknown of any team entering 2024. I don’t expect them to come out with a high-powered offense, and their style is likely to be to try and play hard defense combined with low-risk offense as they ease into their new regime.

    There is very little doubt that the Cincinnati Bengals should be the better of these two teams. However, 10 points is a lot to cover in Week 1 when teams can often look a little rusty. We don’t expect to see much of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, or Tee Higgins in the preseason, so there might be some hiccups in those first few weeks.

    The play here is to use the Bengals in some kind of moneyline parlay or tease them down to -3 and combine them with another big favorite like the Bills.

    Pick: Bengals -3 and Bills -1 in a six-point tease

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)

    • Moneyline: Steelers +120; Falcons -142
    • Total: 43

    The NFL scheduling team was having some fun with this one when they decided to send new Pittsburgh Steelers OC Arthur Smith back to the Atlanta Falcons team he was the head coach of last season. The hope is that the change in regime in Atlanta, combined with Cousins’ arrival, will lead to a very different-looking Falcons team.

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    The big unknown here is Cousins’ health for Week 1 and who will be under center. The fact the sportsbooks have them as 2.5-point favorites suggests they believe he’ll be ready. But if that starts to look less certain, we could see this line swing toward the Steelers. Right now, with the uncertainty on both sides, I’m staying away from this line.

    Pick: No Play

    Tennessee Titans at Chicago Bears (-4.5)

    • Moneyline: Titans +180; Bears -218
    • Total: 43.5

    The Chicago Bears’ offense has undergone a major reshaping with the arrival of Keenan Allen, D’Andre Swift, and Caleb Williams. After having a below-average passing offense last season, that should change significantly in 2024, and Chicago will look to make a Week 1 statement against the Tennessee Titans.

    Tennessee is in a state of transition right now with a new head coach and major changes across its offense. It’s hard to see the Titans coming out strong in Week 1 on the road against a charged-up Bears team. I don’t love laying 4.5 points with a rookie QB in his first start, but the schedulers couldn’t have given Chicago a much softer start.

    Pick: Bears -4.5

    Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-5)

    • Moneyline: Panthers +170; Saints -205
    • Total: 40.5

    It’s hard to imagine the Carolina Panthers being as bad as they were last year, but there could be some initial stumbles as they transition to the Dave Canales era. Starting on the road in the always tough environment of the Superdome is less than ideal for a team that was bottom five on both offense and defense last season.

    The New Orleans Saints have somewhat slid under the radar this offseason after a strong finish left them just outside of a playoff spot in 2023. They went 4-7-1 as underdogs last year but finished 3-0 in games they were favored, including a 20-point victory over the Panthers.

    I fully expect the Panthers to put up more of a fight in the opening week than they did down the stretch last year. In Week 2 of the 2023 season, they pushed as three-point underdogs when hosting the Saints. This line feels about right, as does the total, so there’s no play here.

    Pick: No Play

    Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)

    • Moneyline: Broncos +180; Seahawks -218
    • Total: 42.5

    The Denver Broncos have moved on from the Russell Wilson era this offseason, so it’s somewhat fitting that they start their season against the team from which they acquired him at great cost. Bo Nix is likely to be Denver’s starter, and going on the road to Seattle is a tough way to start your NFL career.

    The Seahawks are the more known quantity here, but they also have their own changes with Pete Carroll no longer the head coach. This should be a defense-dominated game, with Seattle having hired a defensive-minded head coach in Mike Macdonald. My lean here is the Seahawks to cover in a low-scoring game.

    Pick: Lean Seahawks -4.5 and Under 42.5

    Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-3)

    • Moneyline: Raiders +142; Chargers -170
    • Total: 43.5

    Jim Harbaugh is back in the NFL, and the Los Angeles Chargers have immediately made their intentions known with their coordinator hires and offseason moves.

    Greg Roman is reunited with Harbaugh, while Joe Alt was L.A.’s first-round draft pick to play opposite Rashawn Slater. Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins replace Austin Ekeler in the running back room, completing that transition from high-flying to hard-nosed offense.

    The Las Vegas Raiders have had a quieter offseason by comparison, but they also enter the season with a new full-time head coach, an offensive coordinator, and likely a new quarterback under center. All that cumulative change makes this a really tough game to break down and pick a side.

    Pick: No Play

    Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns (-1)

    • Moneyline: Cowboys -112; Browns -108
    • Total: 44

    This line confuses me because I have the Dallas Cowboys as the better team, even on the road. We have no idea what version of Deshaun Watson we are going to see, but we’ve yet to see him really firing for the Cleveland Browns.

    In contrast, we know what to expect from the Cowboys, who had the best offense in the league and a top-five defense last year.

    Dallas didn’t cover as underdogs at all last year, going 0-4, and with all of them coming on the road. The Browns are technically favored right now, but this is, for all intents and purposes, a pick ’em. In games where the Cowboys were favored on the road last year, they went 4-1 against the spread. I fully expect them to open the game as favorites here and have already backed them on the moneyline and +1.

    Pick: Cowboys ML

    Washington Commanders at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)

    • Moneyline: Commanders +154; Buccaneers -185
    • Total: 41.5

    The Washington Commanders are the other big unknown this year after wholesale changes across their coaching and QB situations. They face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that surprised many last year with its performances.

    Jayden Daniels with Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator is a mouth-watering proposition, but will it result in immediate success?

    The Buccaneers lost the man many credited as their key piece with Canales’ departure, who was their OC last year. Tampa Bay was mediocre as favorites last year, going 3-3, as opposed to an 8-4-1 record when playing as an underdog. When favored at home, they went 2-3, and there is enough doubt here to make me lean toward backing what will hopefully be an exciting Washington team.

    Pick: Lean Commanders +3.5

    Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions (-3.5)

    • Moneyline: Rams +160; Lions -192
    • Total: 51

    The first Sunday Night Football game of the year sees Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff face off in a battle of the two quarterbacks who swapped teams a few years ago. Not many believed at the time that Goff would be the player leading the Lions into a new era as NFC challengers, but here we are.

    The Rams are still a playoff-caliber team when Stafford is at the helm (9-6 in 2023), but they struggled when he wasn’t on the field. Meanwhile, Detroit was superb last year, going 11-5 against the spread when favored and only failing to cover once in the last six weeks — which ironically was when they hosted L.A. in last year’s Wild Card game.

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    I like the Rams to play the Lions close here, and I lean toward taking them to get 3.5 points. The total is set to be similar to last year’s Wild Card contest, which went under. However, that game had much more tension to it with the stakes in Detroit, so this will likely prove to be a game played with more flowing football.

    Pick: Lean Rams +3.5

    New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers (-5.5)

    • Moneyline: Jets +205; 49ers -250
    • Total: 41.5

    Aaron Rodgers on Monday Night Football in Week 1, what could go wrong?

    Ironically, the New York Jets may have breathed a sigh of relief that this game is not on their own turf after Rodgers’ injury to open last season. We have no real idea what the Rodgers-led Jets will look like on the field, but they’ll have their work cut out to cover against the San Francisco 49ers on the road.

    The 49ers were not great at covering spreads last year, going 9-10-1 and failing to cover five of their last six. With Rodgers under center, my lean is to the Jets getting 5.5 points. This may be another teaser candidate, taking the Jets up over 11 points, but it’s not one I’m betting on now.

    Pick: Lean Jets +11.5 in a teaser

    NFL Week 1 Best Bets

    My favorite two plays of Week 1 are the Ravens to cover against the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football and the Cowboys to win outright in Cleveland.

    A lot went right for Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game last year, and I believe Baltimore only got stronger this offseason. The Chiefs can be sluggish starters to a new season, while the Ravens, in recent years, have been electric in the preseason and early in the season.

    In Cleveland, we also have a Dallas team with plenty to prove. After another humiliating playoff exit, the pressure is on for Mike McCarthy and his team. The Browns were a surprise package last year, but their roster isn’t as good as the Cowboys’, plus they have a bigger question mark at QB.

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