NFL Week 1 Picks For Early Games: Saints-Falcons, Steelers-Bengals and Patriots-Dolphins

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The NFL action begins this week and the all games promise to have an interesting storyline. In this article, we’ll cover three games for Week 1:

The Saints and Falcons will make for an interesting NFC South matchup with the New Orleans Saints coming into Atlanta as -5.5 road favorites. That’s a big number in a divisional matchup, especially with all of the changes in New Orleans.

The Steelers are now going through a most-expected transition after Ben Roethlisberger’s era came to an end. Meanwhile, the Bengals exceeded most people’s expectations by making a run to the Super Bowl last season and they have that experience under their belt.

Another interesting matchup is between the Patriots and the Dolphins. There is a lot of expectation around Mac Jones and Tyreek Hill for this game. Let’s break down the NFL odds for Sunday.

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, September 11, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

New Orleans Saints Team Analysis

Sean Payton had been the head coach in New Orleans since 2006 and during that time, he built this franchise into one of the most consistent in the league, winning the Super Bowl back in 2009.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been promoted to head coach which is a good move for this team. The Saints have one of the best defenses in football and Allen has earned his chance to lead this group. On the offensive side of the ball, it will be hard to replace Payton who was easily a top 5 coach in the league.

Luckily for the Saints, they still have offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael who has been the offensive coordinator since 2009. That continuity means that the scheme should remain the same and combined with this defense means that this team will be competitive this season.

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Atlanta Falcons Team Analysis

Head coach Arthur Smith is a very good offensive play caller and will put Mariota in a good position to be successful. Every quarterback can use a good tight end as a safety blanket and luckily for Mariota, he has one of the league's best in Kyle Pitts who made the pro bowl as a rookie.

This Falcons team will have to rely heavily on the run this season considering their quarterback situation. They do have some good run blocking offensive linemen on the outside as well as the interior.

There's a ton of turnover on this defense and for good reason, they weren't very good. The jury is still out on what they will look like to start the season but it's probably a safe bet to assume they'll be close to the bottom of the league again.

Score Prediction and NFL Picks

The line for this game opened at Saints -3.5 and has been bet up to -5.5 at some books. The total has seen nearly as much movement as the spread opening at 42 with most books showing 42.5 to open the week.

I think this is where the value is for this game. Laying 5.5 points on the road with the Saints is too much while at the same time, if I'm going to take points with Atlanta, I want +6.5 or better.

I think the total has value for a few reasons. The first is the fact that Mariota isn't a great thrower and his weapons are limited right now. The Falcons have a decent offensive line and Cordarrelle Patterson has shown that he is a reliable weapon in the run game. Add to that the fact that the Saints might have the best secondary in the league and it's a recipe for a lot of running for Atlanta.

On the flip side, while the Saints offense is better, it isn't great. Last season Jameis Winston was decent but that's also due in large part to him being ranked 30th in attempts before he got hurt. The Saints won't allow him to lose the game for them and for all of these reasons, I think the Under 42.5 is the play for this game.

NFL Pick: Under 42.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, September 11, 2022 - 01:00 PM EDT at Paul Brown Stadium

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Analysis

The Ben Roethlisberger era is over in Pittsburgh and it's about time to be honest. While Roethlisberger is a first ballot hall of famer, the last couple of seasons he has been way past his best.

They were never going to disrespect Ben by getting rid of him but they were also never really going to compete with him at the helm. It looks like week 1 starter will be Mitch Trubisky and it's hard to predict how that will go.

A fresh start was certainly needed from his point of view and he does have better weapons with Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson.

The issue is his offensive line isn't very good and to be honest, Trubisky hasn't done nearly enough in his career to think that his time in Pittsburgh will be any different than how he looked in Chicago.

Defensive Power

Luckily for long-time Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, he still has one of the league's best defenses. The Steelers are an elite group and get it done on multiple levels.

Let's start with their pass rush led by T.J Watt who has more than lived up to his family name. Watt can do it all on defense and is a nightmare for offensive coordinators around the league.

Cameron Hayward has been holding down the middle of the Steelers defense for a long time and that should continue this season. The addition of Myles Jack from Jacksonville really solidifies this Steelers front seven.

Cincinnati Bengals Team Analysis

They won't be catching anyone by surprise this year so it will be interesting to see if they can have the same type of success. They're certainly built for it on offense with one of the most loaded groups in the league.

The conversation has to start with Joe Burrow who has played himself into the elite quarterback conversation. Part of being elite is consistency so Burrow will be expected to put up big numbers once again.

While he has a special connection with former college teammate Jamar Chase, this group really has a chance to be special. That depth will be the backbone of this team and you can add running back Joe Mixon to the list of talented weapons Burrow will be able to take advantage of.

Defensive Doubts

On defense the Bengals will be good against the run with a very solid interior defensive line. Their secondary is good, especially in the run game and will help this front seven be one of the best run defenses in the league.

Their pass defense is the big question mark due to a lack of a true pass rush. It's hard to cover receivers if quarterbacks have all day to throw so that will be a point of concern for this team.

Score Prediction and NFL Picks

The game opened at -6.5 Bengals and hasn't moved from that number. The total meanwhile has seen a little bit of movement, opening at 44.5 with most of the top-rated sportsbooks now showing 44 as the total.

The Bengals should win this game by double digits but these divisional matchups are tough. The Steelers pass rush is good enough to keep this game close which is why taking points with them might seem tempting.

At the end of the day, when I look at the quarterback matchup, that's the deal breaker. Burrow is on an entirely different level to Trubisky and I think Pittsburgh will come out extremely conservative in this game.

My prediction for this score is 31-20 with the Bengals upgrades at offensive line, giving Burrow that time he needs to pick this Steelers team apart.

NFL Pick: Bengals -6.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

Sunday, September 11, 2022 - 01:00 PM EDT at Hard Rock Stadium

New England Patriots Team Analysis

This should be an interesting year in New England with the development of Mac Jones. Of all of the rookie quarterbacks, he looked the readiest to play when last season started. He was certainly better than Cam Newton had been the previous season.

That said, he wasn't great either, he was just better than some people might have expected. If he can improve his decision making which you would expect from a second year quarterback, this offense should be better.

Perspective is important, and when I say they'll be better, that doesn't mean that they will be good. A lot of their success will have to do with how well they can run the ball. Jones' weapons aren't great and he'll need a good run game to help him out since he does not have running ability himself.

The Patriots always have a good offensive line and that will be the case again this year. The key to their success on offense starts and ends with this group.

Solid Defense

Defensively the Patriots won't be as good as we're used to, but they'll be solid. Their pass rush won't be ranked very high but the Patriots defensive scheme is very unique.

Bill Belichick is still the best defensive mind in the game so his schemes are always going to be very game specific. This team will lean on their secondary which should still be one of the better units in the league.

Miami Dolphins Team Analysis

New head coach Mike McDaniels comes from the Kyle Shanahon coaching tree. That means we'll see a very interesting offense that will be focused on a wide-zone running attack.

We should expect McDaniels to use their offense in a lot of interesting ways, especially with new weapon Tyreek Hill in town. It's certainly a significant improvement over what we saw last year which was probably one of the worst offensive schemes in the entire league.

The development of Tua Tagovailoa is really the key story for this team because he has a very capable backup in Teddy Bridgewater on the roster which means the leash might be a little short.

McDaniels will have a decision to make early in his coaching tenure depending on how the season starts but it's impossible to ignore that this is the headline in Miami. Their offensive line was the worst in the league last season and we should see some improvement this season with some personnel changes.

Strong Defense

As much attention as this offense has gotten in the off season with the addition of Tyreke Hill and the development of Tua, this defense will be the unit that carries this team.

Miami has a chance to be a top ten defense if they build on the potential they showed last season. While their pass rush isn't great, they make up for it everywhere else. Their secondary is very good and this team is great against the run.

Score Prediction and NFL Picks

This line opened up at Miami -3 with the total opening up at 45. The line hasn't had any movement but the total has been steamed up slightly to -46.5. It's really hard to predict how these offenses will look in Week 1.

The Patriots haven't looked great in the pre-season and at times last year they really struggled. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have a brand new scheme that may take some time to adjust to.

What I do believe is that the Dolphins can count on their defense to really give the Patriots some trouble in this one. I think they'll control the game on the ground and do just enough to cover this -3-point spread for our last NFL pick.

NFL Pick: Dolphins -3 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline 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.