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NFL Week 1 Picks Straight Up – Predicted Upsets and Underdogs Showing Value

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Sep 10, 2022 · 6:00 AM PDT

Davis Mills
Dec 5, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) looks for an open receiver during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Week 1 always has a shocking upset: can the Texans provide it against the Colts?
  • Fade the “revenge” angles in both the Browns-Panthers and Commanders-Jaguars games
  • Last year’s upset picks went 24-28 and won us 18.79 units. Can we outperform that this season?

Hooray, our long national nightmare has ended once again! NFL football is back, with an incredible slate of Week 1 NFL odds full of intriguing storylines, great matchups and the part we like most, hungry underdogs that we’ll be looking for in our NFL Week 1 upset picks.

These upset picks are back for a fourth year, coming off our most productive season yet. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with how this works, we have three units each week to allocate to various NFL underdogs. We’ll try and find some winners, and have some laughs along the way, usually at the expense of the league’s worst coaches.

And what do you know, bad coaching makes for a nice transition into our first pick of the year!

NFL Week 1 Upset Picks

Matchup Spread Moneyline Pick Units
Cleveland Browns vs Carolina Panthers CAR -1.5 -110 Browns 1.1
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Washington Commanders WAS -3 +115 Jaguars 1
Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans IND -7 +275 Texans 0.9

Odds as of September 9th at BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook



Browns Best Baker

When the Week 1 lines first dropped, the Cleveland Browns were 3.5-point favorites in Carolina to open the season. After Baker Mayfield was shipped to Charlotte and his replacement was suspended until December, the Panthers are giving 1.5 points to the visiting Browns.

This line movement isn’t solely because of the Watson suspension: we knew in the spring that punishment would be coming. Part of this jump was because the Panthers brought in Mayfield, and now it’s a perfect revenge game for the QB who constantly has a chip on his shoulder.

The reason to be skeptical of the Panthers is that this is like the fifth time Matt Rhule and company have gone out to get a quarterback, and each time goes worse than the last.

First, they gave Teddy Bridgewater a bunch of money, then they gave up picks to get Sam Darnold, then they brought Cam Newton back before trading picks more picks to grab Matt Corral.

Throughout all this change, the only consistency is that the Panthers’ offense sucks. That explains why Rhule is the favorite to be ousted from the coaching ranks first this season.

The Panthers’ sieve offensive line from last year could improve over the season with Ickey Ekwonu at tackle, but making your NFL debut against Myles Garrett is a tall order for the rookie. Mayfield may want to stick it to his former club, but the formula to beating this defense will be a heavy dose of Christian McCaffrey.

We know the Browns’ offense will run the ball to great success. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt shortening the amount of possession the Panthers will have, to look for Cleveland to leave here with a win before Baker can get into a rhythm with his new squad.

Jags Command Respect in Washington

The Washington Commanders (née Football Team) are 2.5-point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars when they welcome them to the tattered remains of FedEx Field in Week 1.

Jacksonville fans must’ve been rolling their eyes while I accused the Panthers of bad coaching. No one has ever seen a tire fire quite like the Urban Meyer experience last year.

Though it only lasted 13 games, he managed to waste the entire rookie season of one of the most promising QB prospects in history. Now, we’ll get to see how much addition by subtraction Trevor Lawrence and the Jags can make in year two.

Doug Pederson should be able to put Lawrence in a position to succeed. After all, he had Carson Wentz playing like an MVP in Philadelphia at one point. Now Wentz is on his third team in three years, partly thanks to these very Jaguars, who sent the Colts home in Week 18 as 14-point underdogs.

Jacksonville may have overpaid to add players this offseason, but there is more talent for Lawrence to work with on this offense now. Look for him to start his second season off on the right foot here.

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Texans Topple Colts

The Indianapolis Colts will be a popular survivor pool pick out of the gate, with the Colts favored by seven on the road against the Houston Texans.

For the sixth straight season, the Colts will have a different quarterback under center in Week 1. Frank Reich will be hoping for the first time in that stretch, that they can actually start the year with a win.

The Texans were feisty underdogs last season, especially in the latter half of the year after Davis Mills settled into the starting QB role.

Houston pulled off upsets as six, 10 and 13 point dogs down the stretch, and now with actual draft picks available this year, they were able to inject some talent into this scrub-heavy lineup.

The Colts are the favorites in the AFC South for a reason, but it’s hard to ignore the slow starts they’ve had under Reich. Now with a quarterback they actually trust to throw the ball, look for them to transition away from an all Jonathan Taylor attack.

That should benefit Indy in the long run, but in the short term, it’ll give a Lovie Smith defense an opportunity to do what they do best, take the ball away.

The forecast is calling for some Week 1 weirdness to take place in NRG Stadium, as the Texans pull this one out.


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