Around the NFL – Week 1 Preview

The NFL is a quarterback league, and we’re looking forward to getting some clarity on several situations in Week 1:

  • Jets / Rodgers: Will Aaron Rodgers hit the ground running in the Jets offense? How will the OL hold up? The Jets have a very difficult schedule of defenses in the first 5 weeks with the Bills, Cowboys, Patriots, Chiefs, Broncos and Eagles all on the schedule before mid-October. Rodgers understandably had a bit of a down year last year without Davante Adams, but he will likely be looking to establish a similar relationship with Garrett Wilson early in his tenure with the Jets.
  • Broncos / Danger Russ: The Broncos offense was stunningly bad last year. How will Russell Wilson look in Sean Payton’s offense? It sounds like Sean Payton has been bullying basically everyone in this building including Russ and killed the Broncos Country Let’s Ride outro. The Broncos look like they’re going to place a bigger emphasis on the run game in 2023. Russ has trimmed down and was using his legs more in limited preseason action, but OL has moving pieces and will be a unit to watch early in the season. DEN defense was top 5-10 in 2022; success is totally predicated on Russ not being cooked. Jeudy tweaked his hamstring but looks like he has a chance to play on Sunday.
  • Patriots / Mac Jones: Perhaps more stunning than how bad the Broncos’ offense performed in 2022 was why Matt Patricia was given the responsibility of running the Patriots’ offense at all. How will Mac Jones look with Bill O’Brien at OC? Jones led the Patriots to a 10-7 record with 22 TD’s and 13 INT’s as a rookie before Matt Patricia was handed the offense. NE did not make any significant upgrades to the offense aside from the addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Gesicki. They lack speed on the offensive side of the ball. O’Brien reportedly wants to bring back “Alabama Mac” and has meshed well with Jones in training camp and preseason.
  • Steelers / Pickett: Kenny Pickett won the preseason MVP by a wide margin. How will he look when the lights are on at home vs SF’s elite defense in Week 1? Pickett led the Steelers to a 6-1 ATS record on the tail end of 2022. With an improved OL, Pickett will have an opportunity to come out and make a statement against a top 5 defense in the league at home on Sunday.
  • Rookie QB’s: How will Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson fare early in season? Young is playing behind a bad OL in CAR with limited weapons – DJ Chark and Adam Thielen both did not practice on Thursday. Anthony Richardson is raw and playing behind one of the worst offensive lines from 2022, but he’s starting in the same system that Shane Steichen used with Jalen Hurts. CJ Stroud has some weapons at receiver and a serviceable offensive line.

Week 1 Teaser of the Week

  • Steelers +2.5 -> +8.5
  • Jets +2.5 -> +8.5

49ers @ Steelers (+2.5); (O/U 41.5)

  • Pittsburgh’s defense was two-faced last year with and without TJ Watt on the field. TJ Watt will be on the field at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday. The Steelers allowed 25.3 points per game without Watt on the field and just 16.9 with Watt in 2022.
  • This figures to be a defensive slugfest with premium defenses on either side. Pittsburgh finished 11th in our defensive efficiency ratings despite playing 7 games without Watt in 2022. Pittsburgh ranked 9th against the rush and 3rd in RZ trips allowed per game. On the opposite side of the ball, the 49ers return a stacked defense that ranked 5th in defensive efficiency, 1st in EPA / play, 4th in YPP allowed and 5th in early down success rate. They also ranked 2nd against the run by yards per game and 1st in explosive rushing play allowed, and kept opponents out of the red zone at the highest clip in the league. Nick Bosa signed his contract and will be on the field.
  • From Week 9 and on last season, the 49ers and Steelers ranked 1st and 4th in points allowed with 14.4 and 16.6 respectively.
  • The jury is out on Brock Purdy, who was excellent from Week 13 on until he busted his elbow in the NFC Championship Game. That said, Purdy didn’t exactly face a murderer’s row of defenses on the tail end of 2022 – Purdy was the starter against the Seahawks, Commanders, Raiders and Cardinals to close out the regular season. Against Dallas’ premium defense in the NFC Divisional Round, Purdy was serviceable but not a gamebreaker, finishing 19-29 for 214 yards and 0 TD’s. Kittle was a top target and is questionable as of Friday.
  • Defensive coordinators had a full offseason to digest what Shanahan was scheming – a strong pass rush can disrupt the play action the 49ers try to use to get playmakers open in space. In fact, Patrick Peterson said the 49ers might be giving some things away on tape this week – “there are some tell signs out there that tell us what plays we’re going to get from those guys in certain situations,” and “when I get my pick on Sunday we’ll talk about it.”
  • There’s a lot of moving pieces in this one to kick off the season, but we are not expecting an offensive shootout and lean to UNDER 41.5.
  • Given the low total and Pickett’s efficiency down the stretch in 2022, the Steelers are also an excellent candidate in a teaser leg from +2.5 to +8.5, moving through key numbers of 3 and 7.

Dolphins @ Chargers (-3); O/U 50.5

  • Tua had easily his worst performance of 2022 against Brandon Staley’s defense last December – he finished 10-28 for 145 yards and 1 TD. Brandon Staley schemed to clog throwing lanes between the hash marks, forcing Tua to throw out to the sidelines in an effort to expose his arm strength. The Chargers in that game were also missing Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Bryce Callahan and Sebastian Joseph-Day 
  • With a full offseason to digest Mike McDaniel’s new scheme, I expect this to be a recurring theme as defenses face Miami – take away the crossing routes in which Tua hits Tyreek and Jaylen Waddle in space and make him throw outside the numbers. This gives me significant concerns on the Miami side of the ball on offense, although I am a believer in Tua / McDaniel long-term
  • LT Terron Armstead was a DNP in practice on Wednesday and Thursday with ailments to his ankle, knee and back, which is going to present issues vs a healthy Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack
  • On the opposite side of the ball, Herbert threw for 367 yds and 1 TD on 39-51 passing last year against Miami – Mike Williams, Keenan Allen accounted for approximately 75% of his passing productions on yards and receptions. What’s changed since last season is that Vic Fangio is now running Miami’s defense.
  • Miami has issues in their secondary without Jalen Ramsey, who will be out until November. Undrafted 2nd year corner Kader Kohou will be starting opposite Xavien Howard. The Dolphins also brought in Eli Apple. Apple is a household name in the NFL for all the wrong reasons. Without Nik Needham, who is recovering from a torn ACL, and Jalen Ramsey, the Dolphins are going to be relying on young players against LA’s explosive receiving corps in a new scheme with Kellen Moore taking over the reigns.
  • Injuries to Brandon Jones and Elijah Campbell have handicapped the competition to determine who starts next to Holland a bit, leaving DeShon Elliott and Verone McKinley III as the only viable choices to start Sunday’s game against the pass-happy Los Angeles Chargers at the safety position. The safety paired with Holland is important because the back end of Miami’s defense likely will be under attack regularly because of Herbert’s weapons arsenal.
  • All this being said, this is looking like an excellent opportunity for Justin Herbert and Kellen Moore to let it rip against a banged up secondary at home early in the season. Fangio is one of the league’s best defensive minds, but Miami is going to be cycling through personnel in the secondary in this matchup. Looking at Justin Herbert O290.5 passing yards to let it loose and push the ball down the field against a Miami defense that ranked 28th in the league in passing yards allowed per game in 2022; Miami made an effort to improve their secondary in the offseason, but it’s won’t be at full strength in Week 1.
  • We also like Keenan Allen O69.5 receiving yards – all reports out of training camp are that Allen is going to be used in the same way Ceedee Lamb was used in Dallas under Kellen Moore – all these injuries in Miami’s secondary triangulate to a big day for Herbert and this offense, and I want to get on some Allen / Herbert action early this year.

Bills @ Jets (+2.5); O/U 45.5

  • What a great way to kick off MNF with this AFC East showdown at MetLife. The Bills return a loaded roster that admittedly has some question marks – who will settle into the #2 WR position behind Stefon Diggs, and can their secondary of Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer stay healthy after missing a combined 31 games in 2022?
  • The storyline in this game will obviously be predicated on the quarterback matchup between Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers, but as our matchup analysis dashboard above illustrates, we’re going to have two top 10 defenses on the field on Monday night.
  • The Bills finished 2022 with a premium defense that excelled in many facets, ranking 7th in yards per play allowed and 3rd down conversion rate, 5th in YPA allowed and rushing yards allowed per game, 1st in RZ TD % and 2nd in turnovers forced per game. Von Miller will start the season on the PUP list, but Buffalo has plenty of playmakers at every level of this defense to make life difficult for Rodgers in his first start as a Jet.
  • The Jets similarly had an elite defense in 2022 in a campaign that was wasted by piss poor quarterback play – they finished 7th in our defensive efficiency ratings, 2nd in YPP allowed, 2nd in passing yards allowed per game and explosive passing plays allowed, 3rd in RZ trips allowed per game and 7th in sacks. Across the board they were excellent – the contrast between their offensive and defensive profiles on the matchup dashboard above is stark. It’s not a surprise that the Jets’ defensive starters were openly campaigning to bring Rodgers in over the offseason.
  • The Jets beat the Bills outright at home last year with Zach Wilson where they threw for just 136 yards. Josh Allen threw for just 205 yards and 2 INT’s on 18-34 passing, though he did rush for 86 yards and 2 TD’s on 9 carries. A month later, the Jets backdoored to get to 20-12 with a late FG with 1:18 to go, but that’s Mike White. The Jets’ defense held the Bills to 232 total yards in this game, including just 147 yards passing and 1 TD from Josh Allen – Allen did run for another 47 yards and a TD on 10 carries.
  • The lean here is to the UNDER 45.5 given the defensive prowess on either side of the field, Allen’s struggles against the Jets in 2022 and the question marks surrounding the Jets’ OL and its ability to protect Aaron Rodgers.
  • The Jets’ defense demonstrated its ability in 2022 to contain Josh Allen in the passing attack and limit his impact on the game. They should be an elite unit again in 2022, and with the insertion of Rodgers into the offense, we expect the Jets to compete in this game. Use the Jets in a teaser from +2.5 to +8.5 paired with the Pittsburgh Steelers at home against the 49ers in a low-scoring, defensive slugfest.

Head over to our Dashboard section of the site to comb through game matchup dashboards for every game on the board in Week 1, and browse our Player Matchup Analysis dashboards to optimize your DFS / FF lineups and target the player prop markets.