NFL Week 1 Betting: Sunday betting preview (odds, lines, best bets)

2MAEY5N Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (33) runs against the Houston Texans during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

• Bet the Panthers under 17.5 points: The Falcons' run-heavy nature and the Panthers' injured wide receiver corps, among other factors, could make this a low-scoring, quick affair.

• Bet Javonte Williams over 46.5 rushing yards: Broncos head coach Sean Payton has hinted at a big role for Williams in his return from injury.

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The 2023 NFL season gets underway in earnest Sunday after the Detroit Lions' upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. Here are two bets to lock in now for the slate.


Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons: Panthers under 17.5 Points (-110 Caesars)

The Falcons are one of the more hyped teams coming into the season when looking at how their odds in various markets have shifted this offseason. They opened at +450 to win the NFC South with a regular-season win total of 7.5 (-110). Now they’re +220 to win the division and their win total is at 8.5 (-140).

Atlanta added some minor pieces this offseason, their schedule is on the easy side and they posted high success rates (sixth league-wide) on offense last year. However, they also have significant holes, especially on defense and at quarterback. Fortunately for them, the NFC South is going to be a low-volume passing division, and that should be true in Week 1 against their division rival.

The bet, however, is a play against a rookie quarterback making his first start amid injuries to his wide receiver group. Panthers starting wideout D.J. Chark has already been ruled out and Adam Thielen was limited in practice all week and is officially questionable, so Carolina could be starting with rookie Jonathan Mingo, Terrace Marshall and Ihmir Smith-Marsette out wide with Hayden Hurst at tight end.

We can hardly be enthusiastic about the prospects of this passing offense in a rookie quarterback's first meaningful start despite having a solid matchup against a questionable secondary. Preseason is preseason, but Bryce Young recorded a neutral expected points added per play figure, just 5.4 yards per passing attempt and a somewhat shallow average depth of target, coupled with a low-end completion percentage.

Head coach Frank Reich likes to get the ball in his quarterback's hands, but this could be a dink-and-dunk type game with limited receiving options available. The Falcons are the most run-heavy team in the league, too. This game could get really short, really quickly.


Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos: RB Javonte Williams Over 46.5 Rush Yards (+108 Caesars)

This line has moved down some over the past day or two after opening at 48.5 with -110 odds on each side, but I am more than happy to play this back despite the fact that Williams is coming off a serious injury. Some people are relatively surprised he has made it back for Week 1, which is likely the reason this has moved.

Williams ran the ball just three times in the preseason, but it was evident from those limited carries that he was moving well, making a nice cut on one carry and showing strong acceleration to get to a gap before it closed on another. I have no concerns about his ability to play at a high level in this game, and head coach Sean Payton has hinted at a big role for him in his first regular-season action in a year.

There will be competition for touches from free agent signing Samaje Perine, but he is much more of a pass-blocking, pass-catching back, brought in to help protect Russell Wilson, who was the second-worst quarterback at converting pressure into sacks last season. Left tackle Garett Bolles and center Lloyd Cushenberry both return from injury, strong run-blocking guard Ben Powers was added via free agency and right tackle Mike McGlinchey‘s signing from the 49ers completes what will be a new-look offensive line.

Adam Trautman developed into a useful blocking tight end last year, and with injuries to receivers looking like an issue for the Broncos in Week 1, they are likely to try to lean on the run a bit more. Although I believe there will be somewhat of a two-man attack, I think it will be relatively similar to how Detroit chose to split carries between David Montgomery (Williams) and Jahmyr Gibbs (Perine) on Thursday night.

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