Sharp NFL Picks for Early Sunday Slate: Breaking Down 3 Games for Week 1, Including Browns vs. Panthers

<p>AP Photos</p>

AP Photos

We have three NFL games for the 1 p.m. ET Sunday slate of Week 1! I’ll be walking you through my picks and predictions for these NFL matchups below. Here are the sharp bets locked in from OddsJam — let’s make some money!

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Browns vs. Panthers Pick: Panthers Moneyline | -130 at WynnBet

Sunday, Sept. 11 | 1 p.m. ET

It was quite the offseason for these two ball clubs. The Cleveland Browns made a shocking move to acquire former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster deal. The drama to follow and media outrage were expected given the severity of Watson’s allegations.

Watson will not play in this game, as he begins his 11-game suspension. Instead, it will be Jacoby Brissett. Brissett has been a serviceable backup in his career but has yet to find solid ground as a starter. He’ll lead the way for the Browns for 11 games, hoping to keep the team afloat before Watson returns.

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On the other side of the ball will be the Browns’ former starting quarterback, Baker Mayfield. Following an injury-riddled 2021 season, Mayfield was traded to the Panthers justt one year removed from dominating the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the postseason.

Cleveland’s roster is better than Carolina’s, simply put. However, the wildcard here is the quarterback matchup, which now favors the Panthers. The Browns offense will be tested by a talented Panthers defense that features Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Shaq Thompson and Jeremy Chinn.

I like the Panthers in this matchup. Carolina’s defense should be able to contain Cleveland’s passing attack sans Watson. Mayfield, Christian McCaffrey and company should be able to score enough to take this one at home.

Patriots vs. Dolphins Pick: Dolphins -3 | -110 at DraftKings

Sunday, Sept. 11 | 1 p.m. ET

The Miami Dolphins had quite the exciting offseason, highlighted by the acquisition of superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill. They made some other solid additions such as LT Terron Armstead and RB Chase Edmonds. The team is looking to bounce back under new head coach Mike McDaniel from not making the postseason in 2021.

The New England Patriots, on the other hand, did make the playoffs last season but didn’t get very far. Bill Belichick’s team was blown out by the Buffalo Bills in the first round. Since then, they haven’t done much in terms of adding to the team.

The Dolphins swept the Patriots last season and have historically given Belichick troubles at Hard Rock Stadium. Getting -3 odds is a better play than taking the moneyline at -155, where the ‘Phins are favored heavily. Should the Dolphins only win by a field goal, you at least get your money back.

Look for the Dolphins’ big-play wideouts in Hill and Jaylen Waddle to take over this game. I do not believe Mac Jones and the Patriots passing attack can keep up.

Jaguars vs. Commanders Pick: Jaguars +3.5 | -120 at FanDuel

Sunday, Sept. 11 | 1 p.m. ET

Both of these teams have had a series of very disappointing seasons over the past few years. The Washington Commanders have been riddled with legal issues off the field and mediocre teams on the field. The Jacksonville Jaguars, on the other hand, have had back-to-back No. 1 overall picks.

The primary addition for the Commanders this offseason was acquiring quarterback Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts. Outside of him and first-round selection Jahan Dotson at receiver, the Commanders were pretty quiet.

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The polar opposite of quiet was the Jaguars, who broke out the blank checkbook for seemingly every free agent of note, the highlight being former Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk.

The Jaguars made some major improvements to their team and are excited about the next step for 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. He now has a solid complement of weapons at his disposal to take the next step. Defensively, their spending has awarded them what should be a solid unit overall.

The Commanders just did not do much to improve their mediocre team from last season. You can get the Jags +3.5 right now on FanDuel, which is a big difference from the +3 at every other sportsbook.

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