NFL Week 1 Top Picks: Packers-Vikings, Eagles-Lions, Browns-Panthers

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A handful of big-name quarterbacks changed teams in the offseason, including former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield traded from Cleveland to Carolina.

Now he faces the Browns in Week 1 as part of our trio of picks at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks.

Read on for our best NFL picks and odds for three very interesting matchups:

  • Browns vs. Panthers
  • Eagles vs. Lions
  • Packers vs. Vikings

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Cleveland Browns vs. Carolina Panthers

Sunday, September 11, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at Bank of America Stadium

How Are the Browns Doing?

Did any team have a worse offseason from a public relations standpoint than the Cleveland Browns after they traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson with all his off-field issues regarding inappropriate sexual conduct and had the audacity to give Watson a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract? It was the biggest guaranteed deal in league history and infuriated other owners.

Watson ended up agreeing with the NFL on an 11-game suspension, so it will be veteran journeyman Jacoby Brissett under center on Sunday. Brissett is 14-23 in his career as a starter with the Patriots, Colts, and Dolphins and got five starts last year in Miami with a 2-3 record.

Brissett is a fine backup but shouldn’t be starting. If he gets hurt, Joshua Dobbs would take over, and he has attempted only 17 regular-season passes in his career.

Cleveland lost receiver Jarvis Landry in the offseason but did trade for the Cowboys’ Amari Cooper, who had a 1,000-yard season as recently as 2020. On the other side of the ball, end Myles Garrett is a +700 co-favorite at among sportsbooks to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The former No. 1 overall pick had 16 sacks last year.

How Are the Panthers Doing?

It’s the Carolina debut of former Browns quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. He already provided some bulletin-board material for his ex-team by saying recently “I’m going to fuck them up” in Week 1.

The Browns did tell Mayfield after the 2021 season that he was their guy for 2022. Mayfield beat out Sam Darnold for the Carolina top job.

No coach enters on a hotter seat than the Panthers’ Matt Rhule as he’s the +350 favorite to be the first coach fired/to resign.

Browns-Panthers Prediction

I’d be backing Cleveland here if it were Watson under center but not Brissett.

The Browns are an almost impossible 0-16-1 straight-up in their past 17 season openers. They are also 0-2 all-time at Carolina.

NFL Pick: Panthers -2 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions

Sunday, September 11, 2022 - 01:00 PM EDT at Ford Field

How Are the Lions Doing?

The Detroit Lions are the only NFC team yet to reach the Super Bowl and if the “Hard Knocks” Curse is really a thing, that will continue this year as no team featured on HBO’s excellent show has reached the Super Bowl the season it was featured as the Lions were this summer. Only seven of the 17 teams featured on the preseason “Hard Knocks” have made the postseason.

There is a lot of optimism around the Lions despite coming off a 3-13-1 season as the team was competitive in the majority of games in 2021 (11-6 against the spread on NFL picks). Electric rookie receiver Jameson Williams, the No. 12 overall pick out of Alabama, is not ready to start the season off a knee injury suffered last season at Alabama in the national title game against Georgia. Williams averaged a whopping 19.9 yards per reception for the Tide last season.

While I do think the Lions win more than three games this year, I’m still not sold on QB Jared Goff and expect Detroit to take a QB in the first round of the 2023 draft. Nate Sudfeld is Goff’s new backup and that’s not good.

Sudfeld has never started in his NFL career and hasn't appeared in a game since 2020. Starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, meaning he will miss at least the first four games.

How Are the Eagles Doing?

It's likely a make-or-break season for Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. He’s one of the best-running QBs in the league but is still a bit inaccurate in completing only 61.3 percent of his passes last year for a rating of 87.2.

The Eagles were near the bottom of the NFL in passing yards per game but led in rushing at 159.7 ypg.

The team got Hurts a nice new weapon in former Tennessee Titans wideout AJ Brown. He has two 1,000-yard seasons in his three years and makes a good duo with former Heisman winner DeVonta Smith.

Eagles-Lions Prediction

Philadelphia crushed the Lions 44-6 in Detroit in Week 8 last year in rushing for 236 yards and four touchdowns.

This will be much closer …I don’t like the spread so I will do moneyline.

NFL Pick: Eagles ML (-195) at BetOnline

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Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, September 11, 2022 - 04:25 PM EDT at U.S. Bank Stadium

How Are the Packers Doing?

Aaron Rodgers is back with Green Bay and should now finish his career there, but the Packers traded away his top weapon in All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, who had 123 catches for 1,553 yards and 11 TDs in 2021.

The Packers frankly didn’t really replace him and might be very short-handed at receiver in Week 1 with Allen Lazard (the likely new No. 1 guy) and second-round rookie Christian Watson both in question due to injury. Watson missed the entire preseason following minor knee surgery, but the Lazard injury (undisclosed) somewhat came out of nowhere.

David Bakhtiari, the Packers' All-Pro left tackle who has played only part of one game since he suffered a serious knee injury more than 20 months ago, said he believes he is on track to start Sunday. He was not activated off the physically unable to perform list until late in training camp. Another starting tackle, Elgton Jenkins, is in question after tearing his ACL last November at Minnesota.

How Are the Vikings Doing?

It’s the Vikings head coaching debut of Kevin O’Connell, the former Rams offensive coordinator. He replaces Mike Zimmer. Per usual, the Vikes will go only as far as mediocre QB Kirk Cousins takes them.

Expect a close game as Minnesota had a whopping 14 one-possession games in 2021, tying an NFL record.

The Vikings beat the Packers in the lone game Cousins played last year but got crushed in Week 17 at Green Bay when Cousins was out with COVID.

Rodgers’ 10 career losses against the Vikings are his most against any team and seven of the 10 happened on the road.

Packers-Vikings Prediction

Minnesota is the only team to beat Green Bay twice since 2020. The Over is 4-0 in head-to-head meetings in the past two seasons FYI.

NFL Pick: Vikings +1.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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*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.