NFL Week 1 – Three Games to Watch (and Bet on)

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NFL Week 1 – Three Games to Watch (and Bet on)

Author: American Gambler Staff | Publish Date: September 9, 2023 | Last Updated: September 15, 2023

The 2023 NFL season is officially underway, with Thursday’s game between the Lions and Chiefs in the books. Below, we’ll go over three more games from the upcoming weekend that we think bear watching – as well as what to watch for in each of them.

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San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers

It’ll be an early cross-conference matchup of playoff hopefuls when the 49ers travel to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Both teams closed last season strong – Pittsburgh won seven of their last nine games, clawing their way to a 9-8 record despite failing to make the playoffs. San Francisco rattled off twelve consecutive wins before their NFC Championship game exit in which they notoriously lost each of their rostered quarterbacks to injury.

There’s little recent history in terms of head-to-head matchups, with these teams only meeting once every four years. Still, the home team has won each of the past four games dating back to 2007, and the teams hit the over in each of the two games in Pittsburgh while falling short in each of the two San Francisco matchups.

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Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

The Bengals and Browns will renew their divisional, cross-state rivalry early in this NFL calendar, with the teams set to meet in Cleveland this Sunday.

It’s an interesting year for both teams – the Bengals are hours removed from signing quarterback Joe Burrow to a lucrative extension, and this figures to be the last season before due extensions to receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins make it difficult for the Bengals to keep the band together. They’ve made it to the Super Bowl and AFC Championship in consecutive years – can this be the year they win it all?

For the Browns, it remains to be seen how quarterback Deshaun Watson and head coach Kevin Stefanski will fare in their first full season working together. The former is a quarterback with superstar performances in his not-too-distant past, while the latter has achieved more success than anyone else to take the mantle of Cleveland’s head coach in years. Their results in a limited sample size last year were dreadful, however, leaving fans and analysts to wonder what to do with their expectations for the team.

The Browns have been oddly dominant in the head-to-head series with the Bengals, with an 8-2 record over their matchups dating back to the 2018 season. That includes a 5-0 record in games in Cleveland.

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Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers

Sunday will bring us this matchup between two teams who exited the playoffs in less-than-glorious fashion during the AFC wildcard round last year.

The Chargers have made several moves this offseason since blowing a 27-0 halftime lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars last January. One of the most notable was the ejection of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and subsequent acquisition of Kellen Moore for the same position. Another was inking quarterback Justin Herbert to a five-year extension. The list of moves goes on, but one of the first questions people will look to answer – and one of the most important questions for this team’s success – is how well Moore and Herbert mesh.

The Dolphins aren’t in a vastly different position as a franchise, but the offense appears to be in good hands after the showcase put on by head coach Mike McDaniel in his first year at the helm. The better question is how Tua Tagovailoa – whom the Dolphins took one pick before the Chargers took Herbert in the 2021 NFL Draft – performs this season.

While his performance on the field was promising, Tagovailoa was held out of multiple games last season due to head injuries. Can he stay healthy, propel the Dolphins back to the playoffs, and earn an extension like the one Herbert has already received?

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American Gambler Staff