NFL Preseason Week 1 Predictions, Betting Odds & Best Bets: 49ers start with a win

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass during training camp at the SAP Performance Facility.

Week 1 of the NFL regular season is officially less than a month away. There’s still plenty of time to lock in futures bets, and we’ve covered our Super Bowl picks, Conference winners and player awards in our NFL futures betting guide. But back to the preseason — Week 1 begins on Thursday and will also have games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For my Week 1 best bets, I’ve spread out my best bets as I have a pick for a game on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Be sure to check out all of our NFL Preseason Week 1 picks, but for now, let’s get into my NFL preseason best bets.

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New England Patriots +3.5 over Houston Texans (-110)

The NFL preseason begins on Thursday night in Foxborough, Massachusetts between the Texans and Patriots. The forecast is expected to be classic New England summer weather — a little humid and rainy. As for the game, the Texans have confirmed that #2 overall pick C.J. Stroud will start and get a decent amount of reps. Houston also announced that they will get a lot of starters in to try and get some chemistry with Stroud. Even with that, I’m willing to take the points with the Patriots. This will be Stroud’s first professional football game, and to make it worse, it will be on the road. I’m not saying that he’s going to forget how to play football, but I do think some nerves could be a factor.

You might not believe this, but Bill Belichick has told the media nearly nothing about their game plan for Thursday’s game. Classic Belichick. So we could see Mac Jones for a brief period of time, but I’m expecting to see Bailey Zappe for the majority of the game. However, Zappe is not a bad option by any means. In fact, New England fans were chanting for Zappe to replace Mac when he was struggling last season. Zappe only played for a brief period, but he still threw for 761 yards and 5 touchdowns in 4 games. I expected to see this game closer to a pick’em, so I’ll take the points with New England at home.

Denver Broncos -5.5 over Arizona Cardinals (-110)

A video from Arizona’s preseason practice recently went viral, but not for a good reason. The offense looked in shambles and nobody seemed to be on the right page which is incredibly concerning since they won’t have Kyler Murray back for a while. Heading into the first week of the preseason, the Cardinals’ quarterback options consist of Colt McCoy, Clayton Tune and David Blough. To the average NFL fan, you might be going “who?” to the last two names. Obviously, that’s a problem. Another problem Arizona has is the health of their regular starters, like Hollywood Brown and Zach Ertz, who are both dealing with injuries. If the Cardinals have to dig deep into their depth chart for Friday’s game, it could get out of hand quickly.

Week 1 of the preseason hasn’t even begun, and the Broncos have been in the news more than any other team. Most of that is due to Sean Payton’s big mouth as he made his feelings known about Nathaniel Hackett’s leadership. The rest of the talk about the Broncos has been about Russell Wilson and if he can bounce back after a career-worst season in 2022. We likely won’t see Wilson much, if at all, on Friday which doesn’t bother me too much since Denver has Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci behind Wilson. Stidham has proven that he can be an NFL quarterback when needed and DiNucci is coming off a successful season with the Seattle Sea Dragons in the XFL. I’m not overthinking this one — I’m expecting Payton to start his Denver tenure with a big win.

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San Francisco 49ers -4 over Las Vegas Raiders (-110)

These two teams have very different quarterback problems heading into Week 1 of the preseason. For the Niners, they recently cleared the former Mr. Irrelevant, who has become very relevant, Brock Purdy to return to practice. After his stellar 2022 season, Purdy has been confirmed as the QB1 for the Niners. That means former 1st-round picks Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will be battling it out for the backup job. Both quarterbacks should get plenty of time in this week’s game, and since they only have a few weeks to prove they deserve the backup job, I’m expecting both QBs to come out hot.

The story is a little different in Las Vegas. The Raiders got their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo, who couldn’t find a spot in New England or San Francisco. However, I would be shocked if Jimmy G suits up for this game or the preseason at all. The Raiders know that his injury history will be his biggest weakness, so they will try to minimize that by limiting his preseason action. That means Brian Hoyer will likely play a lot of Sunday’s game. Hoyer has been a backup to Mac Jones and Tom Brady for the past few seasons in New England and has only played in 7 games since 2019. But when Hoyer is in, he’s been known to turn the ball over a lot. That should play well to San Francisco’s defense, which was one of the best units in all of football last season. Between Lance and Darnold, the Niners should win their first game of the preseason by a decent margin.

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