The wait is over! With the release of the complete 2023 NFL schedule, bettors can start planning out their strategy for the upcoming season (or refine it if they already had one). Since sportsbooks have posted odds, bettors can go ahead and take advantage of generous spreads, moneylines, and totals.
But the release of the NFL schedule does more than give bettors a chance to bet on games in May. If you take the time to study the schedule, certain takeaways can give bettors insight into how to approach other NFL markets, too.
Five 2023 NFL Schedule Takeaways
Let’s review some 2023 NFL schedule takeaways from a sports betting perspective:
1. The Saints’ schedule sets them up to win the NFC South and/or make the playoffs
Nine of 17 games are on the road, back-to-back road games three times, and seven in the first 11 weeks. If they get off to a slow start, they may not have a chance to recover.
But most of those games (if not all) are winnable. Minnesota and Tampa Bay are the only away games against playoffs teams, and the Bucs will be a different team without Tom Brady. Also working in their favor, the Saints have eight games against teams with first-year starters/rookie quarterbacks.
Read: NFL Week 1 odds
2. The Chicago Bears are a playoff team
Seven of their 14 losses from last season were by eight points or less. Had one more call, bounce, or play gone their way, last season could have been much better than it was. With a better offense taking the field this season, they’ll win some of those games.
A record of 9-8 is often good enough to make the playoffs. Week 1 and 2 are both winnable games (vs. Packers, at Bucs). Week 3 against the Chiefs will probably be loss No. 1. The next five could go either way. If they take at least two, they’ll be in good shape at 4-4.
With games against the Cardinals, Packers, and Falcons to end the season (all three winnable), they may need just two wins from Weeks 9-15 to finish 9-8, which is often good enough to make the playoffs.
Our pick: Bears to make playoffs (+175, Caesars)
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3. We’ll know if the Lions are a legit Super Bowl contender after Week 1
Hopes were high for the Lions last season and will likely be even higher this season. How else can you explain the league scheduling the Lions vs. the Chiefs to open the season on Thursday Night Football? No one wants to see a blowout in the season’s first game, so the league must think the Lions will be a better team in 2023.
But good enough to take on the Chiefs? Eh…
Dan Campbell has done a great job with the team, and the roster is in great shape heading into 2023. If the team can pick up where it left off, the Lions will likely be competitive in this game. Don’t bank on them winning outright, but go ahead and take the points.
If this game is competitive, the Lions might have a legitimate shot at the NFC North title this season.
Our Pick: Lions +7 (-115, BetRivers); To win the NFC North (+145, Caesars)
Check out: 2023 NFL holiday games betting lines
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4. Be wary of the Dolphins
Miami is an up-and-coming team with a very talented roster. If Tua Tagovailoa can remain healthy, with the weapons at his disposal, defensive coordinators will not look forward to facing the Dolphins.
But their schedule is not friendly, and you can’t count on Tua to stay healthy. They open with back-to-back road games (Chargers and Patriots), have three away contests against playoff teams (Chargers, Bills, Eagles), and the Jets and Ravens will be tough. Washington could pose a threat if Sam Howell pans out.
Having four of their last five games at home should be a plus, but three are against the Jets, Cowboys, and Bills. The one away game is against the Ravens. Even with a healthy Tua, the Dolphins have their work cut out for them to make the playoffs.
Our Pick: To make playoffs (-105, Caesars); Under 9.5 wins (-110, FanDuel)
2023 NFL International Series: Dolphins vs. Chiefs odds
5. Wait until their bye week (Week 7) to bet on the Jets to win the Super Bowl
Their first six games will give you a good idea of whether they really have a shot to win this year’s big game. They start the season on MNF at home against Buffalo, then head to Dallas to face the Cowboys in Week 2. After two home games (Patriots and Chiefs), they’ll go back on the road to play the Broncos. Then in Week 6, they host the Eagles.
If they finish 2-4, don’t bother betting on them. Should they go 3-3, their odds will likely be a little higher. Go ahead and put a few bucks down. But if they go 4-2 or better, get your bet in before the odds get even shorter.
Super Bowl odds: Jets have sixth-best odds to win it all