Sundays will be full of NFL games for 18 weeks starting in early September, but we’ll have to work with just two matchups to conclude the first week of the 2023 preseason.
The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs travel to the Superdome to play the Saints in the early game, followed by the Raiders hosting the 49ers in an exhibition battle between former Bay Area neighbors.
New Orleans is favored by a field goal at home in their matchup against KC with a total of 37.5. The visiting Niners are 3.5-point favorites in Vegas, where the total has dropped to 36 points. We’ll match Sunday’s doubleheader with a pair of best bets, and those plays are detailed below.
Chiefs @ Saints: UNDER 38 (-110 at Caesars)
Andy Reid and Dennis Allen have indicated to the press this week that their starting quarterbacks will play on Sunday. It would be a surprise to see Patrick Mahomes for more than a possession or two, but Derek Carr could see up to a quarter of game action as he gets acclimated to new surroundings and teammates.
Mahomes played the first series of Kansas City’s first preseason game in 2022, connecting on six of seven throws for 60 yards and an opening touchdown to Blake Bell against the Bears.
The Saints used the same strategy to achieve an identical result against the Texans in their preseason kickoff last year, deploying starter Andy Dalton for the first series that ended in a passing touchdown.
The scoring for both teams dropped off significantly after those early positive drives. These organizations currently have veteran quarterbacks in the backup spots, with Blaine Gabbert in KC and Jameis Winston in New Orleans.
We don’t expect either of those players to see significant action, leaving the scoring responsibility to younger players like Shane Buechele, Chris Oladokun, and rookie Jake Haener.
We trust the defenses more than the offenses in this matchup of many inexperienced players and will play the under despite the total falling slightly since opening.
49ers -3.5 over Raiders (-115 at BetMGM)
The Raiders are coming off a disappointing season and will begin their schedule without Carr for the first time since 2013. Jimmy Garoppolo is the top man on the QB depth chart released by the team on August 8, followed by Brian Hoyer and 2023 rookie Aidan O’Connell.
In San Francisco, Brock Purdy was listed as the starter on the unofficial depth chart this week, with Trey Lance and Sam Darnold listed as options for the second spot at the position. For now, Purdy appears to have returned healthy enough and performed in camp to the point that Kyle Shanahan is willing to hand him the reins again.
Lance and Purdy threw a combined 11 passes in the 49ers’ preseason opener last year, and Purdy closed out their scoring efforts in the fourth quarter.
With the position battle at backup, it would not be surprising to see Lance and Darnold play for multiple series. If O’Connell takes the most snaps for the Raiders, we like the Niners to cover the 3.5 points despite the hook.