Congratulations for making it through the offseason. Football is here. This is Year 5 of doing my picks column, and it's probably my favorite part of the job. I'm fascinated with the gambling aspect of sports -- and it's something that has become more popular as the years have gone by.
Week 1 of the NFL is one of my favorites to gamble, because it's your own analysis/gut feeling vs. Vegas. Sportsbooks don't have the same kind of advantage they do in the middle of the season, so you can potentially find some value. Here's a look at what I'm thinking this week. As always, credit to the CBS Sports research team for making me sound smart.
All odds come courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
Top five picks ATS record: 0-0
Overall ATS record: 0-0
Straight up record: 0-0
2022 Overall ATS record: 135-129-8
2022 Straight up record: 177-92-3
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, fuboTV)
The Cardinals are expected to be the worst team in the NFL this season, and we don't even know officially who will be starting at quarterback on Sunday. The Commanders on the other hand have a new energy around them.
Not only do they have a new quarterback in Sam Howell and a new offensive coordinator in Eric Bieniemy, but a new franchise owner in the Josh Harris group. Just last week, the Commanders announced that their home opener was sold out. I'm not sure the last time that's happened. Sunday will be the culmination of an epic celebration that has been ongoing in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area since the Harris group put pen to paper.
Washington is 4-1 against the spread in its last five Week 1 games. Even with Terry McLaurin's iffy status, I'm taking Washington.
The pick: Commanders -7
Projected score: Commanders 24-10
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-9.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
Lamar Jackson is back, healthy and extremely wealthy. He's 45-16 in the regular season as the starter, which is tied for the sixth-most wins through 61 regular-season starts by any quarterback since 1950. He also has a new offense that is expected to include more passing, and a couple of new weapons in Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers. Expect the Ravens to be contenders in 2023 if Jackson can remain healthy.
As for the Texans, they are rebuilding, it's no secret. But what really makes me want to fade them in Week 1 is that rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is going to have to operate behind a banged-up offensive line. Right tackle Tytus Howard was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, guard Kenyon Green is already lost for the season and rookie center Juice Scruggs is on short-term injured reserve as well. That's scary, which is why I'm unafraid to lay double digits with the Ravens. Baltimore is 6-1 ATS in its last seven Week 1 games, while Houston is 1-5 in its last six Week 1 road games.
The pick: Ravens -9.5
Projected score: Ravens 30-14
San Francisco 49ers (-2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, fuboTV)
Congrats to the 49ers for locking down Nick Bosa with the , but how much is he going to play on Sunday? Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he doesn't know how many snaps Bosa could take, but indicates he expects him to play.
"I know he'll come in shape," Shanahan said. "I know he'll be good. We'll be smart with it and it'll be based off the next 2.5 practices."
It doesn't sound like Bosa is going to play as many snaps as he usually does. Plus, the 49ers haven't been great in season openers.
San Francisco is 1-5 ATS in its last six Week 1 games. As for Pittsburgh? 3-0 SU and ATS. The Steelers are 7-1-1 ATS as home underdogs since 2018, and Mike Tomlin is the absolute KING when it comes to being an underdog at home. He is 13-4-3 ATS (77%) and 12-8 SU (60%) in his career as a home dog. That's the best SU and ATS record as a home underdog by any head coach since 1970 (min. 20 games).
The pick: Steelers +2.5
Projected score: Steelers 21-18
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
I'm not sure why this line is this low -- which almost makes me want to stay away. The Eagles are legitimate Super Bowl contenders while the Patriots may be the worst team in the AFC East. Mac Jones will be better with Bill O'Brien at offensive coordinator, but the Eagles are the reigning conference champions.
The Eagles are 3-0 ATS in their last three games in New England, but were tied in having the worst road ATS record in the league last year (2-6). Still, doesn't this line seem low?
The pick: Eagles -4
Projected score: Eagles 23-17
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at New York Giants
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC, fuboTV)
The Cowboys have dominated the Giants as of late. They are 11-1 in their last 12 meetings, and 8-1 SU and 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine Week 1 matchups vs. New York. However, the Cowboys have lost seven straight Week 1 games that weren't against the Giants.
Eventual NFL Coach of the Year Brian Daboll stepped into the ring and immediately went 13-4 ATS in 2022 -- which was the best mark in the NFL. In fact, it was the best ATS record since at least 1970! Now, you're going to give them to me as a prime-time home dog with the hook?
I'm expecting the Giants to be better in 2023. They added Parris Campbell and Jalin Hyatt at wideout, and then Darren Waller at tight end. Look for Daniel Jones to go to Waller early and often on offense, and for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to make Dak Prescott as uncomfortable as possible on defense. Give me the home dog.
The pick: Giants +3.5
Projected score: Giants 20-17
Other Week 1 picks
Chiefs (-4.5) 28-23 over Lions
Browns (+2.5) 24-20 over Bengals
Falcons (-3.5) 21-16 over Panthers
Titans (+3) 24-23 over Saints
Vikings (-5.5) 27-17 over Buccaneers
Jaguars 23-20 over Colts (+5)
Bears (-1) 23-17 over Packers
Broncos 28-27 over Raiders (+3.5)
Chargers (-3) 33-28 over Dolphins
Seahawks (-5.5) 23-10 over Rams
Jets (+2.5) 24-23 over Bills