NFL Week 1 Picks: Vikings Seek Statement Win; Patriots In For Long Season?

Let's have ourselves a football season

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September 8, 2022

The best news about the NFL being back is that as Week 1 gets going, everyone’s undefeated.

That includes the NESN.com duo of Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle, who are back for yet another season of against-the-spread picks. Mike and Ricky will make their picks for each and every game for each and every week — at least until they drive themselves insane. It’s that simple.

If reading isn’t your thing, make sure you check out “The Spread,” NESN’s football picks podcast, where Mike and Ricky give out their best picks each week.

Without further ado, the Week 1 picks.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 8

(-2.5) Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Rams. Apparently, Matthew Stafford is healthy, which is the biggest Rams concern. In this case, let me take the points with the defending champs at home. They’re probably sick of hearing how great Buffalo is going to be.
Ricky: Rams. Took the Bills to win the Super Bowl. Also think the Rams have some shortcomings that’ll ultimately upend their attempt to repeat as champions. But this week? Give me the points. The injury to All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White will haunt Buffalo against a talented group of pass-catchers.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 11

(-5.5) New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons.
Gotta see it before truly believing it with a lot of teams, the Saints included. Atlanta might stink, but taking the points at home in the division feels like a safe Week 1 play.
Ricky: Falcons. The top two picks in the 2015 NFL Draft — Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota — square off as each reaches a career crossroads. Winston has the superior supporting cast, and thus a greater opportunity to make noise over the course of the season, but Mariota rejoins Arthur Smith, his offensive coordinator with the Titans, and flashed upside in the preseason, for whatever that’s worth.

Cleveland Browns at (-1.5) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Browns.
The number keeps dropping, so I’m not getting the best of it, but Cleveland is the far better team everywhere except for quarterback. And even then, Baker Mayfield is a wild card, especially in a new system. Cleveland’s advantage on the lines is the determining factor here.
Ricky: Browns. Starting to think everyone’s undervaluing the Browns, who often had success the last couple of seasons in spite of their quarterback play. Losing Deshaun Watson for 11 games obviously hurts. But Cleveland can win games with Jacoby Brissett, which he’ll prove in Week 1.

(-6.5) San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Maybe the most difficult call all week. The George Kittle injury news swung it for me, as I think Matt Eberflus gets a strong defensive effort in his Chicago head-coaching debut.
Ricky: Bears. Chicago might be dreadful this season. But laying a touchdown on the road in Week 1 without knowing whether 49ers quarterback Trey Lance is any good seems ill-advised. Take the points and hope Justin Fields pulls off some magic. Or, better yet, hammer the under.

Pittsburgh Steelers at (-6.5) Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Add the Bengals’ offensive line to the “gotta see it first” group in Week 1, and if there are still holes on that line, Pittsburgh can find them. It’s not like Joe Burrow had a smooth camp and preseason, either.
Ricky: Steelers. Divisional underdogs are 29-9-1 ATS in Week 1 since 2014, per Action Network, good for a 76% cover rate. The Steelers’ pass rush will feast on the Bengals’ new-look O-line as the latter unit works on its cohesion. And is it weird I’m kinda in on Mitch Trubisky this season?

(-3.5) Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles.
The Hype Bowl! I think the Eagles win their division, so they should be able to beat a Lions team led by Jared Goff, no matter how good people want to pretend they are this season.
Ricky: Eagles. Philadelphia could be the NFC’s best team when the dust settles. Its roster is stacked. Detroit, despite being on an upward trajectory, still lags behind in several areas. And that’ll be on full display as the Lions face the Eagles, Packers, Cardinals and Saints before a Week 4 bye.

(-7.5) Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. Indy outscored Houston 62-3 last season and seemingly upgraded at the most important position by replacing Carson Wentz with Matt Ryan. The Colts should roll again.
Ricky: Texans. Love the idea of getting a divisional underdog at home past a key number — even if it is the Texans. The Colts typically start slow — they haven’t won a regular-season opener since 2013 (0-4 SU under Frank Reich) — and now have a new quarterback (Matt Ryan) and a new defensive coordinator (Gus Bradley), which could lead to a few early hiccups on both sides of the ball.

New England Patriots at (-3.5) Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins.
The Patriots might keep this close early, but I question their conditioning — especially on the offensive line — as this game progresses in the sweltering heat. Eventually, the Miami defense gets home and speeds things up on Mac Jones to win going away.
Ricky: Patriots. Miami’s speedy weapons pose a challenge for New England’s suspect cornerback group. And the Patriots’ offense still is littered with question marks. But for a season opener between division rivals, I’m trusting Bill Belichick just enough to cover against a rookie head coach in Mike McDaniel.

(-7.5) Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. The Ravens were favored by six points or more five times last season. They covered zero times. I think that trend continues — for one week, at least.
Ricky: Ravens. The Jets’ defense should be better this season. But even then, you expect me to believe Joe Flacco can keep pace with Lamar Jackson and company? No shot. Time for a reality check in the Meadowlands after an offseason initially filled with optimism.

Jacksonville Jaguars at (-2.5) Washington Commanders, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars.
I made this my three-unit pick on “The Spread” this week. This game feels like a fourth preseason game. But I do believe we see a better effort from the Jaguars, who have the new-lease-on-life feeling of having a new boss while wanting to impress the new guy, too. Washington, meanwhile, is the NFL version of a stagnant puddle.
Ricky: Commanders. Sneaky intriguing matchup, as each team’s 2022 ceiling is tough to gauge. It’s just hard to imagine the Jaguars flipping the switch right away after going an NFL-worst 5-12 ATS last season (including 2-6 ATS on the road). Jacksonville’s development will be a season-long process.

(-6) Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs.
KC is a Week 1 monster under Reid, who is 16-8 overall in openers and 8-1 with the Chiefs. Obviously, that doesn’t guarantee covering a touchdown, but the Cardinals offense lacks explosiveness without DeAndre Hopkins, and the pass rush might be a little toothless with Chandler Jones gone and J.J. Watt already banged up.
Ricky: Cardinals. It’s only September, right? Which means the Cardinals actually might be good enough to cover before falling flat on their faces later in the year — as is tradition in the desert.

Las Vegas Raiders at (-3.5) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Chargers.
A little revenge game for LA after its Week 18 choke against Vegas, and there’s added motivation after an offseason of talk about how great the Raiders can be. The Chargers remind everyone they’re on the Super Bowl shortlist for a reason.
Ricky: Chargers. The hoopla surrounding the Raiders will be short-lived if their offensive line doesn’t step up. And unfortunately for Las Vegas, that unit will be put to the test right away with Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa coming off the edges for LA.

(-1.5) Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Vikings.
Minnesota absolutely needs to have this one, or they’re going very much uphill in the North. It helps their cause that the Packers’ unproven receiving corps might already be without No. 1 wideout Allen Lazard.
Ricky: Vikings. A statement win for Minnesota? Sure, sound the Gjallarhorn. I’m excited to see what the Vikings’ offense can do under first-year coach Kevin O’Connell.

New York Giants at (-5.5) Tennessee Titans, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Titans.
Maybe Wink Martindale fixes the Giants’ run defense right away, but this unit was really bad last season, and this is as healthy as Derrick Henry will be all year. The Titans look destined for a step back, but this is a spot they should handle.
Ricky: Giants. Not crazy about the G-Men. But we might reach a point this season where the Titans being favored by 5.5 points against anyone is laughable.

(-2.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Has all the makings of “Tom Brady silences the doubters once again,” but the biggest issue for Dallas might be trying to block that Tampa Bay defensive front with its banged-up offensive line.
Ricky: Cowboys. Something feels off about the Bucs. Maybe it all works itself out over the long haul, but the Cowboys’ ability to create pressure up the middle on Tom Brady will be the determining factor here.

MONDAY, SEPT. 12

(-6.5) Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks.
Denver should go to the playoffs, and the Seahawks might be the NFL’s worst team. But this is going to be the best effort Seattle gives all season, and it’s quite familiar with that QB on the other side.
Ricky: Broncos. Trying to not overthink things this season. And that starts with taking Russell Wilson over Geno Smith.

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Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images

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