Four NFL Preseason Week 1 Predictions: Friday & Saturday Picks

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh looks on during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Image Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The first true week of the preseason spans from Thursday, August 10 through Sunday, August 13. Our four NFL Preseason Week 1 predictions will focus on two Friday picks and pair of games being played on Saturday afternoon.

We have 16 total games being played from Thursday to Sunday, serving as our first glimpse into the 2023-24 season — even if it’s just preseason. The Saturday games start at 1 p.m. ET and run through the evening for 9-10 hours of football. Preseason or not, that’s something that will get any football fan excited.

NFL Preseason Week 1 Picks: Friday, August 11

For these NFL Preseason Predictions, we are looking at the lines from DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: Local, NFL+

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have been great in the preseason over the years. They went 3-0 last year, and Tomlin is on an 18-4 preseason run since 2017. Kenny Pickett will start for the Steelers on Friday, and Tomlin admitted that he’ll give him “as many reps as he needs” to get back into the swing of things.

Meanwhile, it appears that Baker Mayfield will start for Tampa Bay, as he’s in a quarterback competition with Kyle Trask. The Bucs went 0-3 in the preseason last year under Todd Bowles.

Remember, the Steelers have three quarterbacks on their depth chart with legitimate NFL experience in Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, and Mason Rudolph. Tomlin is more liberal about letting his starters play, and the QB depth could make the difference here.

Cleveland Browns (-3) vs. Washington Commanders

Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: Local, NFL+

The Browns already had a week to go through their gameday routine, settle some of the depth chart, and assess which units will be playing. Cleveland outscored the New York Jets 14-0 in the second half to win the Hall of Fame Game, and there’s a chance their young quarterbacks feel more comfortable after already seeing preseason reps.

On top of that, Ron Rivera doesn’t exactly have the best preseason track record having gone 0-3 last year and 1-5 overall in the last two preseason campaigns.

NFL Preseason Week 1 Picks: Saturday, August 12

The action rolls on with six games taking place on Saturday. Of those, four of them are on NFL Network.

Here are the two picks we like within this slate.

Buffalo Bills (+3.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts

Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: Local, NFL+

We understand that Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and the rest of the starters probably won’t play in this game. They didn’t see any playing time in the preseason last year, yet the Bills still went 2-1. In fact, Sean McDermott is a sneaky-good preseason coach in terms of win-loss record, having gone 9-1 overall since 2019.

Everyone is hyped about the Colts in this game because electric QB Anthony Richardson will start. He’ll probably see a couple of drives, but Indianapolis has plenty of moving parts with a new head coach and the Jonathan Taylor trade rumors swirling.

Let’s take the home team, getting 3.5 points while having a coach with a pretty good preseason track record.

New York Jets (+3.5) at Carolina Panthers

Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network

This pick mirrors the sentiment of the previous two with Cleveland and Buffalo. All of the hype will surround Carolina rookie QB Bryce Young making his first NFL appearance. However, the Jets have already gone through the motions of playing a preseason game.

Robert Saleh has been a solid preseason coach in his time with New York (5-1 overall), and Zach Wilson will look to bounce back after a mediocre showing in the Hall of Fame Game.

Meanwhile, Carolina will be trying to get up to speed with new coach Frank Reich taking over.

Put it all together, and it’s enough to have me leaning on the Jets for more than a field goal in this Saturday afternoon matchup on NFL Network.