Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season has mercifully arrived and Swinger begins his season-long voyage through the treacherous waters of the year’s most popular betting season. Each week Swinger will reveal his top three NFL predictions and will keep a running and transparent record for all to see.
Let’s Get It On!
Ah, the magic of Christmas morning. I remember opening my tiny little Swinger eyes, crawling out of bed in my onesie pajamas, flying out of my bedroom to see all the gifts underneath the tree, and then leaping into my parents’ bed, wedging myself snugly between them while screaming “Santa was here – Santa was here!”
I vividly recall those enchanting moments and my father saying, “Can you get your ass out of bed, your beard is in my eyes.” Okay, so I was a little late in finding out about the whole Santa thing but I bring this up because this Sunday, Week 1, is now the most magical day of the year and I can’t wait!
Alright, for those who have been reading this weekly column over the last dozen football seasons then you know we have had tremendous success over the years and I fully intend on getting us paid to watch a game we love yet again when the year ends.
And to those who are new, I welcome you and appreciate you giving me a chance to earn your trust. We don’t win every week but at the end of the season, we are usually in the black. At the end of the 2020 campaign, our record stood at 38-22-2 ATS (+38.95 units) or 63.3% while in 2021 we came away with a much less gaudy but still profitable 30-25 ATS (+7.95 units) mark.
Last season we entered the Super Bowl at 35-32 ATS but the Eagles did us dirty which left us waiting for next season. And, voila, here we are!
Okay, so here at Swinger’s Picks I use a 1-to-5-unit system with 5 units being an every-now-and-again wager while most of my bets are of the 2–3-unit variety. Without further ado, let’s get down to business and start making money!
Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Caesars Superdome
- The Saints averaged just 4.3 yards per carry last season – No. 20 in the league.
- The Saints did not score on any drive in the 4th quarter in the last 4 weeks of the regular season – the worst in the NFL. League Avg: 31%.
- The Titans allowed just 76.9 yards per game last season which made them the No.1 rushing defense.
I’m not quite sure why the Saints are viewed by many as a lock to win the NFC South. Does Derek Carr of 2023 thrill you? Or how about Derek Carr late in the 2022 season when he averaged 180 yards per game and had a touchdown to interception ratio of 4:6 over his last three games before he was benched?
If it’s stats you seek, consider Derek Carr is 17-29-1 ATS as a favorite, making him the fourth-least-profitable QB as a favorite over the last 20 years.
Skepticism Surrounds the Saints
As you can tell, I am not bullish on the Saints one iota and my advice is to go Under 9½ (+105) regular season wins over at BetOnline. Alvin Kamara will be out for this game as well as the next two as he is under suspension for a fight at a nightclub. Mama said nothing good happens after midnight let alone 5:00 in the morning but then again, Alvin never met Mama.
The Saints will not have a running game without Kamara and they really didn’t have one with him last season as they were ranked 20th in the yards per carry (4.3 YPC) category.
And if you’re concerned about former All-Pro Michael Thomas streaking down the sidelines catching a Derek Carr missile I’d like to remind you that Thomas missed all of the 2021 season with an ankle injury and played in only three games last season before missing the rest of the season with a foot injury.
Thomas is 30 years old now, and receivers don’t get better after that age. As for Chris Olave, the other receiver, I’m a fan. But what else ya got Nawlins?
Titans’ Ground Game
Look, I’m not saying Ryan Tannehill is anything more than a slightly above-average quarterback but the Titans have a very real ground-and-pound game led by Derrick Henry and they added DeAndre Hopkins to the mix which will give Tennessee’s aerial attack a boost.
I’ll take the Titans +3 ½ over at Bookmaker and pay the extra 15 cents for the privilege. If this wasn’t Week 1 my units would be greater but let’s tread lightly this week, shall we?
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Acrisure Stadium
- The 49ers are 1-5 ATS in Week 1 under Shanahan (2-4 SU).
- The Steelers have a four-game ATS win streak entering this season, which is the longest of any team.
- The Steelers are 53-30-4 ATS (64%) as an underdog under head coach Mike Tomlin which makes him the most profitable coach as a dog in the last 20 years.
As of this writing, Nick Bosa, the chaos-maker himself, will not be suiting up due to a protracted contract dispute. Therefore, we will make the case that the Niners will not be the same vaunted defense without him because he’s just that good.
On the flip side, the Steelers have their own master of disaster on defense, T.J. Watt, who will be in uniform wreaking havoc and mayhem. Huge edge for Pittsburgh and we should also wrap our minds around the quarterback advantage the Steelers will enjoy.
Yes, Brock Purdy was a nice story, Mr. Irrelevant, the whole nine, I get it. However, he’s coming back with a surgically repaired elbow and will have a new right tackle, Colton McKivitz taking over for Mike McGlinchey who signed a five-year deal in Denver. I’m unconvinced Purdy (all I think of after writing Purdy – is lips) is nothing more than a one-hit-wonder.
I like the Steelers here with Kenny Pickett targeting Diontae Johnson and George Pickens with Najee Harris coming out of the backfield. Oh, and one last stat you might be interested in: The Steelers were 8-2 SU and ATS with T.J. Watt last season but were 1-6 SU and 2-4-1 ATS without him.
This number has dipped below the all-important 3 to as low as 49ers -1 ½ but there is still a +2½ over at Everygame and I am spending 20 additional cents to buy the hook back to +3.
Miami Dolphins vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium
- Entering the 2023 season, Miami has lost five straight road games.
- Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa is 0-3 ATS on the road in his Pacific Standard Time zone career.
- Miami was ranked 28th in rushing offense on the road last season, averaging only 93.3 yards per game.
Before we get to our final play of the day, I’m looking back on my first two picks and loathe the fact that I am laying north of the standard -110 on both. Kids, please, don’t do drugs, stay in school, and don’t make a habit of paying the bookie more than he deserves.
Yet, you don’t pay the vig if you win, right?! That’s a scary axiom to rely on but, hey, whatever makes you sleep at night.
Okay, getting on with it, I like the Bolts in this one. First of all, they’re finally healthy with both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams ready to roll. And roll they will over a helpless Dolphins’ secondary that will be without Jalen Ramsey patrolling the secondary.
You see, the Fish traded a third-round pick for Ramsey, secure in the knowledge they would not get torched by teams like the Chargers. But Jalen Ramsey is out for the foreseeable future with a torn meniscus suffered at training camp.
A Look Back
Last season the Chargers beat the Dolphins, 23-17, and Tua was underwhelming, to say the least. He was 10-of-28 for 137 yards and one touchdown. Justin Herbert, on the other hand, was 39-of-51 for 367 yards and a touchdown.
I think the Bolts will roll at the NFL odds and I am happily laying the field goal… with no additional vig!
NFL Pick: Chargers -3 (-108) at BetOnline – For 2 units
The Woodman’s Corner
For those new to this column, the Woodman is not my alter ego, as some have suggested, but rather a long-time sports betting buddy of mine who makes money year after year by betting primarily on underdogs.
Last season, he eked out a winning record (12-10, +1.09 units) and although he usually does much better than that, money in our pockets is better than money in the bookie’s pocket.
In typical Woodman fashion, he is going with a hound dog in his Week 1 opener. According to him, the Green Bay Packers +1 on the road in Chicago is the sharp play. And, might I point out, this line has fallen a full 1 ½ points from Bears -2 ½ when it opened?
Looks like the steam is on the Packers and I hope the sharps are right.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.