We are on the doorstep of the official start of the National Football League season. Technically, it’s already started with the stunning win by the Detroit Lions on Thursday night over the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, but that leads directly to something you must figure out when wagering on pro football. A skillful bettor must figure out the trends quickly during NFL Week One, otherwise they will miss out on key opportunities.

For example, those who didn’t observe last season did not get on the Lions bandwagon. The Motor City Kitties started the season a dismal 1-6 before closing the season on an 8-2 run that almost got them into the playoffs. During that run, Detroit was 8-2 both straight up and against the spread (ATS). The team was poised to make such a stand in their Week One matchup with the Chiefs, and they came to play.

Each week during the NFL season, we’re going to look at key games where you might be able to use the trends to your advantage. All advice is offered for entertainment purposes only but be ensured that a significant amount of thought has gone into each selection (home team in ALL CAPS).

San Francisco 49ers (-2.5) v. PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The 49ers made a stunning run to the NFC Championship Game last season, seeing most of their quarterback roster devastated by injuries to the point where Josh Johnson was starting that title game. Since then, the 49ers have been able to firm up their quarterbacking corps behind starter Brock Purdy, with NFL refugee Sam Darnold serving as backup and one-time “savior” Trey Lance shipped off to Dallas. They’ve also got all-everything running back Christian McCaffrey, who can be a one-man wrecking crew in his own right.

So why am I taking the Steelers in this game? The Steelers have been quietly rebuilding their once-legendary franchise under the steady leadership of head coach Mike Tomlin. Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett has slowly been rounding into form as a quality NFL quarterback and running back Najee Harris (if he can avoid the injury bug) is also coming into his prime. Add in George Pickens at wide receiver and the offense is poised to break through in 2023. If this occurs, the always-strong Steelers defense should hold the road Niners down enough to cover the spread.

Bet: Steelers +2.5

Green Bay Packers v. CHICAGO BEARS (-1.5)

This is a bit surprising, considering the way last season ended. The Bears were abysmal in pretty much every facet of the game, and they haven’t done much to try to improve the team. They still have quarterback Justin Fields, but they’ve lost one of the main cogs in their running game with David Montgomery now rolling in the backfield for Detroit. Add in the demise of the once-proud “Monsters of the Midway” and it could be a long season in the Second City.

The Packers have had their share of changes too, but they have always handled these things much easier than other NFL franchises. Gone is future Packers legend (?) Aaron Rodgers, but quarterback Jordan Love demonstrated in the preseason why the team drafted him. Love still has the formidable tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion lining up behind him at running back, and the receiving corps with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs seems poised to show what they have. Thus, I see the Packers taking down this matchup and starting their post-Rodgers Era with an outright win.

Bet: Packers +1.5

Dallas Cowboys v. NEW YORK GIANTS (O/U 45.5)

These are two of the most bitter rivals in the NFC East and they relish the matchups with each other. They also tend to bring the offense in their meetings as, over their last ten meetings, seven times they have eclipsed the over (scored more points than projected). Both the Cowboys, with a once again revitalized Dak Prescott at quarterback and a hungry Tony Pollard (running back) and CeeDee Lamb (wide receiver), and the Giants, with newly minted “face of the franchise” Daniel Jones (quarterback) and a “prove them all wrong” running back in Saquon Barkley, are coming with guns blazing – the over is the line to take here.

Bet: OVER 45.5

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