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September 07, 2023

Week 1 NFL picks

Ahead of the 2023 NFL season, Jimmy Kempski makes his Week 1 picks.

Eagles NFL
011823HaasonReddick Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick

For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 1 NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.


Lions at Chiefs (-4.5): The Chiefs have some bad vibes heading into Week 1 with elite DT Chris Jones still holding out and TE Travis Kelce's status for gameday in question as a result of a hyperextended knee suffered this week in practice. But I'm not about pick the Lions to knock off the Chiefs at Arrowhead in the season opener.


Bengals (-2.5) at Browns: It still just blows me away that Deshaun Watson responded to a tweet from a reporter covering another team about his joint practice stats. 

Could you imagine if the Eagles had successfully traded for this loser? He would have had no chance in Philly.

Before training camp, I had Watson 12th in my quarterback rankings. Now... I dunno, 28th? Put me down for a miserable Browns season, beginning at home Week 1.


Panthers at Falcons (-3.5): The NFC South was won by a team with a losing record a year ago, and there's a decent enough chance that could happen again in 2023. I do think the Falcons are building a smashmouth identity under Arthur Smith that will be good enough to beat bad teams during the regular season.


49ers (-2.5) at Steelers: This is tough first opponent for the 49ers, as their biggest weakness heading into the 2023 season — the offensive line — will be tested by T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cameron Heyward, and the Steelers' impressive pass rush. Brock Purdy is a flawed quarterback coming off a major injury, and the Steelers have their share of ballhawks in the secondary.


Jaguars (-5) at Colts: I got an up close look at Anthony Richardson this summer when the Eagles had joint practices with the Colts, even if only for one practice. He is a physical specimen with immense athletic ability, and if he can figure some things out he could eventually be a great player. For now, however, he has no idea where the ball is going when it leaves his hand and there will be growing pains in Indy in 2023.

Shane Steichen and the Colts are in a similar place right now that Doug Pederson and the Jaguars were in a couple years ago.


Buccaneers at Vikings (-6): If I had to pick two 2022 playoff teams that I don't think will be heading back to the playoffs in 2023, it would be these two teams. Well, maybe the Giants, too.


Titans at Saints (-3): The Titans' offensive line has disaster written all over it. 


Cardinals at Commanders (-7): Honestly, it might not be the worst survivor pool strategy to just pick whoever the Cardinals play every week. (I'm not doing that, as you'll read in a second.)


Texans at Ravens (-10): I don't like this Ravens team this year. Is this a good defense? Via Ourlads' depth charts:

• DE Broderick Washington
• NT Michael Pierce
• DT Justin Madubuike
• RUSH Odafe Oweh
• WLB Patrick Queen
• MLB Roquan Smith
• SLB Jadeveon Clowney
• CB Rock Ya-Sin
• S Kyle Hamilton
• S Marcus Williams
• CB Marlon Humphrey
• NCB Arthur Maulet

Humphrey is a great corner, but he's hurt, and the safeties are good. But that front seven... 

Spoiler: I'll probably be picking against the Ravens a lot this season. But not Week 1! The Ravens own Week 1. Here are their Week 1 results since their epic preseason winning streak began:

  1. Week 1, 2022: Ravens 24, Jets 9
  2. Week 1, 2021: Ravens, 27, Raiders 33 (OT)
  3. Week 1, 2020: Ravens 38, Browns 6
  4. Week 1, 2019: Ravens 59, Dolphins 10
  5. Week 1, 2018: Ravens 47, Bills 3
  6. Week 1, 2017: Ravens 20, Bengals 0
  7. Week 1, 2016: Ravens 13, Bills 7

That would be a 6-1 record with a point differential of +160. John Harbaugh has his teams ready for the opener, but they tend to fade down the stretch. They will be my survivor pick Week 1.


Eagles (-3.5) at Patriots: When the Eagles are good, road games can often feel like home games because Philly fans travel so well. This Sunday, there won't be many Birds fans at Gillette Stadium because Tom Brady is being honored at halftime, which is causing astronomical ticket prices. In that sense, it's not ideal that the Eagles drew a Patriots away game Week 1.

Ultimately, it shouldn't matter. The Pats have a very good defense, but the Eagles can score on anyone. On the other side of the ball, the Pats' already bad offense will be compromised by their banged-up offensive line. The Eagles should dominate in the trenches and pound Mac Jones.


Packers at Bears (-1.5): The Packers have swept the Bears four straight seasons. Of course, Aaron Rodgers had a big part of that:

But... I'm a Jordan Love believer (Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my opinion of him in a flash), and I'll believe the Bears are team that should be favored in games like this after, you know, they win some games like this. Justin Fields has a chance to make strides this season with an improved supporting cast around him, but let's see it first.


Raiders at Broncos (-3.5): The Raiders have some star players in Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams, and Josh Jacobs, but I like this Broncos roster overall a lot more, and Denver unquestionably has the better coaching staff. 


Dolphins at Chargers (-3): I love this matchup between these two preseason darlings who both have some fraud potential. The Dolphins feel somewhat less fraud'y to me, for now.


Rams at Seahawks (-5): There are 28 rookies combined on these two rosters (14 for each team), but the young talent in Seattle is markedly superior to the young talent in L.A.


Cowboys (-3) at Giants: The Eagles aren't the only team that owns the Giants. The Cowboys have won four straight in this rivalry, and 11 of the last 12. The Giants also haven't beaten Dak Prescott in their last 10 tries.


Bills (-2.5) at Jets: Last season the Bills were a very popular Super Bowl pick, perhaps even Super Bowl favorites? This year they're heading into the regular season with less hype, but still a great roster that once again has a chance to win it all. They feel a little "slept on" to me, while the Jets are heading into 2023 with an absurd amount of hype for a team that last appeared in the playoffs after the 2010 season.

Survivor pick

  1. Week 1: Ravens

• Picks against the spread: Bengals (-2.5), Steelers (+2.5), Saints (-3), Eagles (-3.5), Packers (+1.5), Cowboys (-3).

• Eagles picks: 0-0

• 2022 season, straight up: 176-107-2 (0.621)
• 2022 season, ATS: 50-50 (0.500) 
• 2021 season, straight up: 179-105-1 (0.630)
• 2021 season, ATS: 46-40-1 (0.534)
• 2020 season, straight up: 169-81-1 (0.675)
• 2020 season, ATS: 45-37-3 (0.547)
• 2019 season, straight up: 160-107-1 (0.601)
• 2019 season, ATS: 42-35-3 (0.544)
• 2018 season, straight up: 173-94-2 (0.647)
• 2018 season, ATS: 41-36-2 (0.532)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS:  41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)

• Last 8 years, ATS: 345-291-13 (0.542)

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