The Week 1 NFL schedule for the 2023 season is stacked with great matchups, and we’ve got you covered with what you need to know heading into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game and a bold prediction for each matchup.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information research provides a big stat to know and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a game projection. Analytics writer Seth Walder picks out each matchup’s biggest X factor, and fantasy analyst Eric Moody hands out helpful fantasy football intel. Finally, Walder and Moody give us final score picks for every game. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.
Let’s get into the full Week 1 slate, including Brock Purdy vs. Kenny Pickett, a battle of Ohio in Cleveland, the start of the Jordan Love era for Green Bay and an NFC East game at Metlife Stadium on Sunday night. It all culminates with a “Monday Night Football” matchup between the Bills and the Jets on ESPN. (Game times are Sunday unless noted.)
Thursday: DET 21, KC 20
1 p.m. ET | Fox | Spread: SF -2.5 (41)
Storyline to watch: While Kenny Pickett and Brock Purdy were selected 242 picks apart in the 2022 NFL draft, each enter this season as the incumbent starting quarterback for their organizations — and each enter Sunday’s game with something to prove. For Pickett, it’s showing that he can continue the momentum from the end of last season and orchestrate a more explosive offense. For Purdy, it’s proving that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he’s recovered from his offseason UCL repair surgery on his right elbow. — Brooke Pryor
Bold prediction: Nick Bosa will pull a T.J. Watt — playing in the opener and posting multiple sacks just days after signing a lucrative contract extension (five years, $170 million) with the 49ers. The Niners expect him to play against the Steelers despite not participating in training camp until this week. He’ll be going against Steelers tackles Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor, who ranked 34th (89.5%) and 30th (89.9%) among tackles in pass block win rate, respectively, in 2022. That’s middle of the pack but still a favorable matchup for the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. — Nick Wagoner
Stat to know: Last season, the use of motion was key to Purdy’s success. When San Francisco used motion, Purdy’s QBR nearly doubled, and he threw 11 touchdown passes to two interceptions. That should be put to the test, as the Steelers’ defense led the NFL in opponent touchdown-to-interception ratio on plays with motion.
Matchup X factor: Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt. One sneaky weakness for the 49ers is their offensive line (besides Trent Williams). Watt can make Purdy’s return to action dicey in a flash. — Walder
Injuries: 49ers | Steelers
What to know for fantasy: The 49ers have one of the toughest run defenses in the league. They allowed the fewest rushing yards (1,014) to running backs last season. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Pittsburgh is 3-0 against the spread (ATS) in its past three Week 1 games. San Francisco is 0-3 ATS in Week 1 during that span. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Steelers 21, 49ers 17
Walder’s pick: 49ers 26, Steelers 23
FPI prediction: SF, 55.9% (by an average of 2.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Bosa’s new contract provides foundation for next wave of 49ers stars … Why Fitzpatrick’s Steelers are sweating the details in 2023 … Can 49ers break through championship window before it closes?
1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: CIN -2 (48)
Storyline to watch: How does Joe Burrow look? The Cincinnati Pro Bowl QB missed almost the entire preseason with a strained right calf injury and began practicing only last week. All-Pro Browns pass-rusher Myles Garrett destroyed the Bengals’ offense in Cleveland last year with 1.5 sacks and four QB hits — and he’ll be aiming to exploit any Burrow rustiness this time around, too. — Jake Trotter
Bold prediction: The Bengals will remain winless at Cleveland. The Browns have won five straight home games vs. the Bengals, which is tied for the longest home winning streak by either team in the history of the rivalry. Burrow is still working his way back from injury, and the defense is incorporating two new safeties, Dax Hill and Nick Scott. Couple those factors with an improved Cleveland defense and the addition of receiver Elijah Moore for QB Deshaun Watson, and it equals another rivalry win for the Browns. — Ben Baby
Stat to know: No player has posted a higher pass rush win rate against a single opponent than Garrett against the Bengals since 2017 (31%). He has recorded 11 sacks in nine games over that span, and Cleveland is 7-2 in those games.
Matchup X factor: Bengals offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. The Bengals’ new blindside protector has a critical assignment in Week 1 — stopping Garrett. The good news for Cincinnati is Brown is probably the best protector Burrow has had since entering the league. — Walder
Injuries: Bengals | Browns
Will Joe Burrow be healthy enough to face the Browns?
Pat McAfee and A.J. Hawk break down the Joe Burrow storylines ahead of Bengals vs. Browns in Week 1
What to know for fantasy: Cleveland running back Nick Chubb has averaged 17.4 fantasy points in nine career games against the Bengals. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Divisional home underdogs are 7-0 ATS in Week 1 over the past five years (4-1-2 straight up). They are 15-2-1 ATS since 2012, and 21-5-1 ATS since 2009. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Bengals 23, Browns 20
Walder’s pick: Browns 23, Bengals 16
FPI prediction: CIN, 59.2% (by an average of 3.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Burrow participating fully after return from calf strain … Browns’ Watson says he’s better than he was in 2020
1 p.m. ET | Fox | Spread: ATL -3.5 (39.5)
Storyline to watch: No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young makes his first start for the Panthers, and Bijan Robinson, the No. 8 pick, will play in his first game for the Falcons. How Young handles Atlanta’s new-look defensive scheme led by a revamped pass rush and defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, and how the Falcons use Robinson in their position-agnostic offense could be the two keys to who wins Sunday. — Michael Rothstein
Bold prediction: Young will pass for more than 300 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in his first start. He has played in the Georgia Dome before — his first college start was there in 2021 when he threw four touchdown passes for Alabama — and he’ll be facing a Falcons defense that ranked 25th (giving up 3,942 yards) against the pass a year ago. — David Newton
Stat to know: The last quarterback drafted first overall who won their first NFL start was David Carr in 2002. Such quarterbacks have gone 0-13-1 since then.
Matchup X factor: Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown and the Carolina run defense. The Panthers are the underdogs here, and their best chance of pulling the upset is to stop the Falcons from getting going on the ground and forcing Desmond Ridder to put the ball in the air. — Walder
Injuries: Panthers | Falcons
What to know for fantasy: Drake London will pose a challenge to a Panthers defense that gave up the fourth-most yards to wide receivers last season. In 2022, nearly 40% of London’s total receiving yards came during the four games in which Ridder was the starting quarterback. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: The Falcons are 1-6 ATS in their past seven Week 1 games. The Panthers are 7-13 ATS in their past 20 Week 1 games. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Falcons 27, Panthers 24
Walder’s pick: Falcons 22, Panthers 14
FPI prediction: ATL, 55.9% (by an average of 2.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Why Panthers’ Burns isn’t holding out … Expectations for Robinson in Year 1
1 p.m. ET | Fox | Spread: JAX -5.0 (45.5)
Storyline to watch: The Colts haven’t won a season opener since 2013, and their winless streak of nine straight openers is now tied for the second-longest in NFL history. Rookie QB Anthony Richardson (the No. 4 overall pick) will be looking to change that. The Jaguars have not won a game in Indianapolis since 2017, losing five consecutive times at Lucas Oil Stadium. One of these streaks will be broken. — Stephen Holder
Bold prediction: The Jaguars will sack Richardson six times. Jacksonville’s pass rush is a major issue, but it will be able to confuse the rookie with disguised coverages and blitzes. Richardson will break a few runs, but he’ll also run himself into a sack or two. In 2022, the Jaguars season-high for sacks in a game was five … against the Colts in Week 2. — Mike DiRocco
Stat to know: In his first two season openers, Trevor Lawrence is 0-2 with four passing touchdowns, four interceptions and a 55.9% completion percentage.
Matchup X factor: Richardson. How can it not be? So much variance rests with him, and the Colts’ chances here will hinge on how ready he is to produce right away. — Walder
Injuries: Jaguars | Colts
What to know for fantasy: Lawrence averaged 19.5 fantasy points over the past 11 games of 2022. He now has another playmaker in Calvin Ridley, who led the league in air yards and red zone targets when he played the entire 2020 season. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: The Jaguars are 13-2-1 ATS against the Colts since 2015. The Colts had been favored in the previous 10 meetings. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Jaguars 31, Colts 20
Walder’s pick: Jaguars 21, Colts 17
FPI prediction: JAX, 64.5% (by an average of 5.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Can Lawrence break Jaguars passing records in 2023? … From shooting hoops to ball security, Steichen making impact on Colts
1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: MIN -5.5 (45.5)
Storyline to watch: Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield will tie an NFL record by making a Week 1 start for different teams in three consecutive years. And he will try to overcome a Vikings franchise that has the league’s second-best winning percentage (.731) in Week 1 home openers since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. — Kevin Seifert
Bold prediction: Tight end T.J. Hockenson will tie a career-high with two touchdown catches against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers’ defense surrendered nine touchdowns to tight ends during the regular season last year — the fifth-most in the NFL. With Justin Jefferson getting the lion’s share of attention from Todd Bowles and the aggressive nature of that defense, it lends itself to a big day for Hockenson. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins is 6-9 as a starting quarterback in his career vs. NFC South teams — his worst record against any division.
Matchup X factor: Buccaneers cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis III. Tampa Bay needs its corners to slow Justin Jefferson and force the Vikings to rely on their secondary receiving options (receivers Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn and Hockenson). Even still, that will be tough. But closely marking the best wide receiver in football is the place to start. — Walder
Injuries: Buccaneers | Vikings
What to know for fantasy: Last season, wide receivers caught 66% of their targets and averaged a league-high 192 receiving yards per game against the Vikings’ secondary — which is still Minnesota’s biggest weakness. That bodes well for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin’s Week 1 fantasy outlooks. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Overs were 8-2 in Minnesota home games last season, including the playoffs (8-1 in past nine). Over the past three seasons, overs are 20-6 in Vikings home games. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Vikings 20
Walder’s pick: Vikings 19, Buccaneers 16
FPI prediction: MIN, 67.1% (by an average of 6.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Bucs’ offense gives encouraging signs heading into Week 1 … Vikings’ Cousins knows his job is ‘on the line’ this season … As deadline nears, Buccaneers’ Evans seeking security
1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: NO -3 (41)
Storyline to watch: One of the most important matchups will feature Saints left tackle and 2022 No. 19 overall pick Trevor Penning protecting the blind side against the Titans’ pass rush. Penning’s performance will likely dictate the success of new Saints quarterback Derek Carr and his ability to get the ball to his receivers. — Katherine Terrell
Bold prediction: Derrick Henry will rush for 150 yards and DeAndre Hopkins will have 100-plus receiving yards. Hopkins said he wanted to join the Titans because of Henry, who’s presence will warrant single coverage on the outside for Hopkins. Henry has yet to face the Saints in his career (he was injured the past two times these teams played), but Hopkins has 23 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns in three games against New Orleans. — Turron Davenport
Stat to know: The Saints have won their past four season openers, the longest streak in franchise history. It’s tied for the second longest active streak in the NFL, trailing the Chiefs (eight straight).
Matchup X factor: Saints receiver Michael Thomas. If Thomas is anything like his old self, he’ll combine with Chris Olave to make for a formidable receiving duo. — Walder
Injuries: Titans | Saints
What to know for fantasy: Since 2013, Hopkins ranks first in receptions, second in receiving yards and fourth in receiving touchdowns. He averaged 16.8 fantasy points per game last season. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Why Liz Loza is so high on Chris Olave
Liz Loza has big expectations for Chris Olave in Week 1 against the Titans.
Betting nugget: Tennessee is 1-4 ATS in Week 1 under coach Mike Vrabel (0-3 ATS over the past three seasons). The only cover came in the lone instance it has been an underdog in Week 1 (2019 at Browns). Read more.
Moody’s pick: Saints 21, Titans 18
Walder’s pick: Saints 38, Titans 10
FPI prediction: NO, 53.4% (by an average of 1.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: Tannehill enters final year of contract excited to ‘attack this season’ … After injuries, Saints WR Thomas eyes NFL comeback … How Titans GM Ran Carthon got his dream job … Haener suspended for violating the NFL’s PED policy
1 p.m. ET | Fox | Spread: WSH -7 (38)
Storyline to watch: Washington’s defensive line is anchored by Pro Bowl tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne — who combined for 19 sacks last season. This group will face a Cardinals offensive line with an inexperienced center in Hjalte Froholdt, who has four career starts, and includes three new starters. If the Cardinals want any chance to win this game, they’ll have to somehow control this front — and do so with an inexperienced quarterback, regardless of whether it’s Joshua Dobbs or Clayton Tune. — John Keim
Bold prediction: James Conner will finish with 100 yards and a touchdown in his 2023 debut, capping a day in which he has 20 carries and five catches. All offseason, the message from the Cardinals was that they were going to commit to the run this season, and we’ll see it right away. — Josh Weinfuss
Stat to know: The Commanders haven’t lost a home game to the Cardinals since 1998, winning eight straight.
Matchup X factor: Cardinals offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. If the Cardinals have a chance against the Commanders, they’re going to have to protect their quarterback from a strong Washington pass rush. They can’t do that without good play from Johnson in his NFL debut. — Walder
Injuries: Cardinals | Commanders
What to know for fantasy: The Cardinals’ worst defensive season came in 2003, with 452 points allowed in 16 games, but this could be worse. For fantasy managers who stream quarterbacks and tight ends, the Cardinals’ defense is an ideal target. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Washington has not closed as at least a seven-point favorite since Week 12 of 2017 (-7 vs. the Giants). And Washington has not been a seven-point favorite in Week 1 since 2000 (-7 vs. Cardinals). Read more.
Moody’s pick: Commanders 24, Cardinals 10
Walder’s pick: Commanders 19, Cardinals 3
FPI prediction: WSH, 63.8% (by an average of 5.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Could the Cardinals start a fifth-round rookie? … Magic Johnson preaches championship practices to Commanders … Gannon mum on starting quarterback … Will Rivera’s big bets on Bieniemy, Howell go bust for all?
1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: BAL -10 (43.5)
Storyline to watch: Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ defense look to continue their hot streaks. In four career season openers, Jackson has thrown 12 touchdown passes and one interception, for a 82.7 Total QBR, which is second only to Patrick Mahomes since 2006. Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick who threw an FBS-high 85 touchdown passes in his two years as starting QB for Ohio State, faces a challenging debut. Under coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore is 14-2 (.875) against rookie quarterbacks at M&T Bank Stadium. — Jamison Hensley
Bold prediction: Expect the Texans’ secondary to get their hands on the ball and intercept Jackson several times. Houston invested in the unit this offseason at the draft and through free agency, and new coach DeMeco Ryans, the former Niners defensive coordinator, is calling plays. And the Texans are facing the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who is known to operate a pass-heavy offense. — DJ Bien-Aime
Stat to know: Baltimore is 9-2 (.818) vs. Houston in franchise history, their fourth-highest win percentage against any opponent. The Ravens last lost to the Texans in 2014.
Matchup X factor: Monken. How do Jackson and the offense fare in the new system? This will be a major signal of how Baltimore’s season will go. — Walder
Injuries: Texans | Ravens
What to know for fantasy: The Texans’ defense allowed the most rushing yards (2,412) and touchdowns (22) to running backs last season. Baltimore running back J.K. Dobbins is healthy, and the Ravens are heavy favorites, so look for him to grind on the ground. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: The Ravens are 43-0 outright as double-digit favorites in the regular season. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Ravens 31, Texans 17
Walder’s pick: Ravens 34, Texans 20
FPI prediction: BAL, 73.5% (by an average of 9.1 points)
Matchup must-reads: Howard placed on IR, to miss first four games … What will Jackson and Ravens’ new offense look like? … Why the Texans spent $118M in guaranteed money to protect Stroud
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox | Spread: CHI -1 (42)
Storyline to watch: With Jordan Love replacing Aaron Rodgers (26-5 against Chicago since 2008, including the playoffs) at quarterback, Green Bay looks to extend its win streak to nine straight over its NFC North foe. Both teams underwent major construction this offseason, and while the quarterback position was the biggest change for Green Bay, the supporting cast around third-year Bears quarterback Justin Fields (as well as six new starters on defense) looks vastly different than the one Chicago fielded during last season’s three-win finish. — Courtney Cronin
Bold prediction: The Bears led the NFL in rushing yards per game last season, and only six teams allowed more rushing yards per game than the Packers. But the Packers will hold the Bears under 100 yards rushing thanks in part to a younger defensive front and a concerted effort by defensive coordinator Joe Barry to start faster this year. — Rob Demovsky
Stat to know: The Packers’ Matt LaFleur is 8-0 in his head-coaching career vs. the Bears. He is one win shy of tying the longest winning streak against a single opponent to begin a Packers coaching career in the Super Bowl era (Mike McCarthy, nine straight wins vs. the Lions).
Matchup X factor: Packers tight end Luke Musgrave. Whether it’s Musgrave or receivers Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed, Green Bay is going to need a second pass-catcher to emerge alongside second-year receiver Christian Watson. — Walder
Injuries: Packers | Bears
What to know for fantasy: Fields has a new receiver to target in DJ Moore, who has averaged 5.0 yards after the catch per reception over the past five seasons. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Fields is 8-16-1 ATS in his career, the second-worst record among quarterbacks to start at least 25 games in the Super Bowl era (Colt McCoy). Fields is 4-8-1 ATS at home. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Packers 24, Bears 21
Walder’s pick: Packers 24, Bears 17
FPI prediction: CHI, 51.5% (by an average of 0.6 points)
Matchup must-reads: What have Packers done differently to avoid another Week 1 disaster? … Bears list veteran Peterman as QB2 behind Fields … How Packers’ offense will change from Rodgers to Love
Matt Bowen: DJ Moore can be started with confidence in flex spot
Matt Bowen is optimistic about DJ Moore’s fantasy prospects in the Bears’ offense this season.
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: DEN -3.5 (44)
Storyline to watch: The Broncos’ offense — the league’s lowest-scoring outfit last season — and quarterback Russell Wilson (career-low 16 TD passes in 2022) will be under serious scrutiny. Any chance they have to end a six-game losing streak against the Raiders will hinge on handling Raiders running back Josh Jacobs and edge rusher Maxx Crosby effectively. Jacobs has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of the six games, while Crosby has 10 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hits. — Jeff Legwold
Bold prediction: Jacobs, despite missing all of training camp and the exhibition season in a contract stalemate, will have more than 100 yards from scrimmage. After all, the first-team All-Pro running back has feasted on the Broncos in his career, going 7-0 with 721 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 154 carries (4.7 yards per carry) along with 15 catches for 158 yards. — Paul Gutierrez
Stat to know: Wilson is 5-1 all-time vs. Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. A sixth win would tie for his most vs. any opposing quarterback (6-1 against Colin Kaepernick).
Matchup X factor: Broncos receiver Marvin Mims Jr. If Jerry Jeudy is out or limited, the Broncos’ passing attack is going to need to rely on Mims right away. Whether the rookie can make an impact in his debut might determine if the Broncos can keep up with what could be a good Raiders offense. — Walder
Injuries: Raiders | Broncos
What to know for fantasy: Denver running backs Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine are solid Week 1 starters against a Raiders defense that gave up 20 touchdowns against the run last season. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Over the past five seasons, the Raiders are 9-1 ATS against the Broncos (8-2 outright), including 6-0 ATS as an underdog (4-2 outright). The Raiders are 4-0 ATS in the past two seasons against the Broncos. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Broncos 30, Raiders 23
Walder’s pick: Raiders 23, Broncos 20
FPI prediction: DEN, 59.1% (by an average of 3.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Jones says Raiders sent crisis team to his home … Can Wilson adapt to Payton’s offense? … Wilson learning on the job after late start with Raiders … Surtain gearing up for another shot at Adams
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: PHI -4 (45)
Storyline to watch: The Eagles are coming off a season in which they totaled the third-most sacks in NFL history (70), and the Patriots’ biggest question mark is their offensive line. The Patriots’ line has managed injuries, illness and inconsistency throughout training camp to the point that the projected starting five hasn’t played a single snap together. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the Eagles’ D: “Their front is dominant, the best pass-rushing front in the league by quite a bit.” — Mike Reiss
Bold prediction: New England’s special teams will score a touchdown. The Eagles have had a lot of turnover on their special teams units and will likely need some time before the operation is fully buttoned up. One carryover from last season is punter Arryn Siposs, who had a costly errant kick in Super Bowl LVII against the Chiefs. He’ll be facing off against Marcus Jones, who led the league in punt return yards (362) and broke off an 84-yard return for a touchdown last season en route to being named first-team All-Pro as a rookie. — Tim McManus
Stat to know: New England quarterback Mac Jones’ 4.5 QBR when pressured last season was the worst among 31 qualified quarterbacks. The Eagles ranked first in pass rush win rate last season (52.7%), while the Patriots ranked 29th (32.9%).
Matchup X factor: Patriots edge rusher Josh Uche. With 11.5 sacks and a 19% (above average) pass rush win rate, Uche can be a disruptor who could cause problems for the formidable Eagles offense. — Walder
Injuries: Eagles | Patriots
Why Fulghum likes the Pats in a low-scoring game
Tyler Fulghum explains why he is taking the points with the Patriots in the Week 1 matchup with the Eagles.
What to know for fantasy: The Eagles allowed a league-low 4.9 yards per pass attempt last season. Jones and the Patriots’ offense are in for a tough Sunday afternoon after the offensive line struggled during preseason and training camp. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Since 2000, teams that lost in the previous season’s Super Bowl are 4-19 ATS in Week 1 the following season (0-3 ATS in the past three seasons). Read more.
Moody’s pick: Eagles 24, Patriots 20
Walder’s pick: Eagles 30, Patriots 20
FPI prediction: PHI, 61.9% (by an average of 4.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Inside the Eagles’ decision to draft Carter … Stevenson excited about teaming with Elliott in Patriots’ backfield
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: LAC -3 (51)
Storyline to watch: The Chargers made sure Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa never got comfortable in Week 14 last season, limiting him by taking away quick-timing throws and the middle of the field. Miami coach Mike McDaniel had a whole offseason to figure out how to counter that approach, but Los Angeles will have star pass-rusher Joey Bosa available after he didn’t play last year’s matchup because of a groin injury. Whoever dictates the tempo and nature of the Dolphins’ pass game will have a huge advantage. — Daniel Greenspan
Bold prediction: Miami will run for 150-plus yards against the NFL’s fifth-worst run defense from a season ago, including a 100-yard game from an inspired Raheem Mostert, quieting the talk about Miami trading for a running back. The Dolphins averaged 4.8 yards per carry in last year’s loss to the Chargers but could never quite commit to the run. That changes this year. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Stat to know: Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was dominant outside the pocket in 2022, ranking third in QBR (86.2), first in passing yards (901) and tied for second in passing touchdowns (seven). It was also one of the Dolphins defense’s biggest weaknesses, as it allowed the second-highest QBR (82) to opposing quarterbacks outside the pocket.
Matchup X factor: Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson. Fresh off a forgettable 2022 campaign, Jackson will play a crucial role in stopping a passing attack that was ruthlessly efficient last season. Whether Jackson plays like he did in 2021 or 2022 will go a long way in determining how the Chargers do Sunday — and this season. — Walder
Injuries: Dolphins | Chargers
What to know for fantasy: Look for Herbert and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to light up the vertical passing game under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. He led Cowboys offenses to average 8.3 air yards per pass attempt in his four-year tenure. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Tagovailoa is 9-5-1 ATS in his career as an underdog. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Chargers 24, Dolphins 16
Walder’s pick: Dolphins 34, Chargers 31
FPI prediction: LAC, 55.4% (by an average of 2.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Keeping Tagovailoa upright will be tested vs. Chargers … Biggest questions for the Chargers entering the 2023 season
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox | Spread: SEA -5.5 (46)
Storyline to watch: The opener marks Bobby Wagner’s return to Seattle after one season with the Rams. The Seahawks brought back the future Hall of Fame linebacker as part of an overhaul to their front seven after finishing 30th in run defense last season. The Rams were tied for 27th in rushing last year and won’t have star receiver Cooper Kupp, which will allow Seattle to focus more attention on stopping the run. — Brady Henderson
Bold prediction: Rams running back Cam Akers will continue where he left off against Seattle to end the 2022 season with another 100-yard rushing game. Even with the emphasis the Seahawks put on improving against the run, Akers will become the fifth Rams player to record four consecutive games with 100 or more rushing yards over the past 30 seasons. — Sarah Barshop
Stat to know: The Seahawks’ four straight wins in season openers is the longest streak in franchise history and is tied for the second-longest active streak in the NFL.
Matchup X factor: Rams receivers Tutu Atwell and/or Puka Nacua. With Kupp out, the Rams are going to need receiving help from somewhere other than receiver Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee. Enter these two late-round fantasy sleepers, who each have a chance to make an instant impact. — Walder
Injuries: Rams | Seahawks
What to know for fantasy: Kupp is out for Week 1, which puts Higbee in the spotlight. The Seahawks’ defense allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends last season, and Higbee has averaged 0.96 fantasy points per target in his career. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Seattle has covered in three straight season openers. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 21
Walder’s pick: Seahawks 23, Rams 13
FPI prediction: SEA, 62.7% (by an average of 4.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: How McVay hit the reset button after difficult year … Seahawks expect Smith-Njigba (wrist) to play vs. Rams … Carroll rules out Adams for Seahawks opener
8:20 p.m. ET | NBC | Spread: DAL -3.5 (45.5)
Storyline to watch: Cowboys defenders DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons teed off on right tackle Evan Neal and the Giants’ offensive line last season, to the tune of five sacks in the two meetings. Neal altered his stance this offseason, and the Giants insist he has “improved.” Now he just needs to trust his technique in games; otherwise Lawrence and Parsons could derail New York’s chances of producing any offense. — Jordan Raanan
Bold prediction: The Cowboys’ priority in the offseason was to shore up the run defense, which led to the drafting of defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the first round. Seeing Giants running back Saquon Barkley in Week 1 will be a test. Barkley has more games with fewer than 51 yards rushing against Dallas (five) than 100-yard games (two), but he will tally more than 100 yards in this one and do so on 25-plus carries, as the Cowboys will make him work for it. — Todd Archer
Stat to know: Quarterback Dak Prescott looks to extend his 10-game win streak against the Giants on Sunday. With a win, he would tie Roger Staubach for the longest win streak against the Giants since at least 1950.
Matchup X factor: Neal. If he’s hasn’t improved from Year 1, quarterback Daniel Jones better watch out. But if we’re about to witness a Year 2 leap, that could pay major dividends for the Giants’ offense. — Walder
Injuries: Cowboys | Giants
What to know for fantasy: Since 2014, Cowboys receiver Brandin Cooks is one of seven players in the league with 8,500-plus receiving yards and 45-plus receiving touchdowns. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: The Giants were 13-4 ATS last season (14-5 ATS including playoffs), the best mark in the NFL. They were 10-2 ATS as underdogs and 3-1 ATS as home underdogs (2-1-1 straight up). Read more.
Moody’s pick: Cowboys 28, Giants 23
Walder’s pick: Cowboys 31, Giants 17
FPI prediction: DAL, 55.3% (by an average of 2.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Inside Parsons’ chase for a Cowboys Super Bowl title … Barkley sees his game going to a new, improved level … Cowboys look to ‘Seize Everything’ with ‘Carpe Omnia’ slogan … Shepard still has his ‘wiggle’ after ACL tear
Why Erin Dolan likes betting the Cowboys in prime time
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Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN | Spread: BUF -2.5 (46)
Storyline to watch: The Jets have gone eight straight games against the Bills without scoring more than 20 points. Enter Aaron Rodgers, their new offensive catalyst. He will be tested by a defense that allowed only 5.7 yards per dropback last season (sixth in the NFL). — Rich Cimini
Bold prediction: Whichever defense finishes the game with more sacks will win. For both teams in this big AFC East matchup, the offensive line is an area of weakness, and they will be tested in significant ways against two strong defensive fronts. The team that protects its quarterback better will come out with the early advantage in the division race. — Alaina Getzenberg
Stat to know: Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen is 3-1 with seven passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and four interceptions in season openers as a starter. He will become the first Bills quarterback to start five straight openers since Jim Kelly (11 straight from 1986-96).
Matchup X factor: Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. The fastest way for the Jets’ season to go south is via offensive line failures. Becton is a question mark at right tackle, having only played one game the past two seasons, but the 2020 first-round pick certainly has upside, too. — Walder
Injuries: Bills | Jets
What to know for fantasy: Last season, Jets receiver Garrett Wilson caught 56.5% of his 147 targets for 1,103 receiving yards. Now he’ll be catching passes from Rodgers, who sports a career 65.3% completion percentage. See Week 1 rankings. — Moody
Betting nugget: Rodgers is 6-1 ATS and 5-1-1 outright as a regular-season home underdog. He is 6-0 ATS and 5-0-1 outright in the past six instances. Read more.
Moody’s pick: Jets 27, Bills 24
Walder’s pick: Jets 20, Bills 17
FPI prediction: BUF, 57.6% (by an average of 2.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Diggs: Being Bills captain ‘means more’ this year … ‘Hard Knocks’ finale recap: Rodgers’ UFO story and more … For Allen, Bills’ season opener provides opportunity to showcase progress … Fixing the five NFL QBs who regressed the most in 2022
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