NFL picks, Week 1: Dolphins vs Chargers highlights opening weekend

Say it with me: football is back, baby! We'll be here every week of the season to bring you picks for not just your Kansas City Chiefs, but the entire weekly slate of NFL action!
Oakland Raiders Announce Draft Picks At The Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas Sign
Oakland Raiders Announce Draft Picks At The Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas Sign / Sam Wasson/GettyImages

The first weekend in September is always refreshing for the mind, body, and soul. Not only are we starting to (somewhat) sense the transition from summer to fall, but Labor Day Weekend always welcomes a nice unofficial close to summer as we know it. A nice, long weekend for most lets us mentally shift our focus from a relaxing summer filled with vacations and longer days to being dark outside by the end of a work day and the upcoming holiday rush.

When you put it that way, Labor Day is kind of bleak. But, there is one big factor that helps 99% of Americans be oblivious to the fact that the worst part of the year is here: football is back. You can put as many pumpkin-spiced shackles on an individual as you want if there are one or multiple 50+" TVs with numerous college and NFL football games playing simultaneously in sight, cold weather and commercialism wield no sword on the battleground.

For that reason, and many many more that I didn't mention in the cynicism-soaked first paragraph of this blog, Labor Day Weekend is actually one of the better weekends of the year for all of you football guys and girls out there. Not only did we have some humdingers this weekend in the college slate, but we also have an entire season of NFL football right at our fingertips, starting Thursday night when your Kansas City Chiefs kick off the season against the Detroit Lions. We'll have staff picks later this week for that game, but for now, let's take a look at the rest of the NFL slate for Sunday and Monday!

Panthers vs. Falcons - Whoa, is this really Bryce Young vs. Desmond Ridder? I'm supposed to be stirred by this matchup? It feels like these two teams play 8 times a year, and I don’t recall any memorable matchups recently. I guess give me the home team in this one. Falcons 20, Panthers 16

Texans vs. Ravens - This one will be ugly. The Ravens are a legit contender in the AFC, and the Texans could be plucky, but this one could get our of hand pretty quick with Harbaugh and the Ravens facing a young defense and young head coach. Ravens 29, Texans 10

Bengals vs. Browns - Joe Burrow has only been practicing for a week after missing the whole preseason, and you have to figure that will impact the Bengals offensive flow starting off the season. Cleveland is a team to watch this year, and I have them taking this one in Week 1. Browns 24, Bengals 20

Jaguars vs. Colts - Nothing to see here, Jacksonville is actually good and Indianapolis is, well, not good. Jaguars 28, Colts 16

Buccaneers vs. Vikings - Baker Mayfield gives the Bucs the facade of being interesting this year, until we actually come back to reality. Minnesota has one of the better rosters in the NFC and should get off to a good start in 2023. Vikings 28, Buccaneers 17

Titans vs. Saints - Derek Carr in New Orleans might be the most intriguing “new face in a new place” in 2023. If Michael Thomas wants to play, Chris Olive can thrive, and Alvin Kamara is still kind of Alvin Kamara, this Saints offense could hum. I take the Saints in this one. Saints 24, Titans 21

49ers vs. Steelers - Here’s my first ill-advised “West Coast team coming east” pick that I continually hang my hat on. With all the excitement about the Niners heading into the season, I think Pittsburgh has something interesting (if not at least chippy) brewing with Kenny Pickett and George Pickens. I like the Steelers to surprise here, and all season. Steelers 27, 49ers 25

Cardinals vs. Commanders - Worst game of the weekend, Commies roll. Commanders 31, Cardinals 13

Packers vs. Bears - What better matchup for such a historic rivalry than Jordan Love vs. Justin Fields? Fields and the Bears are at least interesting this year, and could be entertaining at times. Jordan Love has a long way to go before he gains custody over the Bears. Bears 23, Packers 17

Raiders vs. Broncos - Intriguing additions to both of these recent dumpster fires in the off-season. While Jimmy G and Josh McDaniels have a lot to prove, so do Sean Payton and the Broncos. Payton has been regarded as the coach that can end the Broncos second-worst in the league playoff drought, but we have to remember he’s only found success with a sub-6’ Hall of Fame quarterback on his team. The guy he has now is, well, just short. Raiders 20, Broncos 16

Dolphins vs. Chargers - This is the anti-Cardinals/Commanders. Probably the most exciting matchup of opening Sunday, the Dolphins could fly high on a suspect Chargers secondary. Justin Herbert and the Chargers can put up points too, though, and the combination of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and rookie Quentin Johnson might be a little much for Jalen Ramsey to stomach. Chargers 33, Dolphins 31

Eagles vs. Patriots - What is the Patriots plan if the Eagles decide to “Brock Purdy” Mac Jones? This one should be a cake walk for the Eagles, even with the almighty Belechick having the home field advantage in hallowed Foxborough. Eagles 25, Patriots 14

Rams vs. Seahawks - The Cooper Kupp news has to be unsettling for Rams fans. But hey, you got Stafford back! Geno and the Seahawks are just a more complete roster right now than what they have in LA, and I expect the Seahawks to win and cover here. Seahawks 20, Rams 17

Giants vs. Cowboys - This is the first time a game between these two has been featured on Sunday Night Football and been worth the billing in quite some time. Both teams come in with ambitions to get to and through the divisional round of the playoffs. Both rosters are pretty stacked, but I’m patrolling the sidelines to find the difference in this one, and to me it’s Brian Daboll. Giants 29, Cowboys 27

Bills vs. Jets - These two will likely be in a battle with the Dolphins all season long for supremacy in AFC East. Josh Allen and the Bills have to feel a little bit of pressure after failing to reach the AFC Championship game a year ago. On the other side, Aaron Rodgers has the pressure of the New York media and the weight of high expectations to deal with, and the Jets have the looming anxiety associated with hoping Rodgers doesn’t suddenly change his mind about his passion level for the game. A real tense affair here, but I think we’ve forgotten about how good Buffalo actually is. Bills 34, Jets 29.