Every once in a while you just need to take a quick break out of your day, look around, and realize how lucky you are to be living in this exact moment in time. Don't get me wrong, the world is going to hell in a hand basket and there's plenty of fucked up shit going on everywhere. But do you realize how insanely lucky we are?
For years and years, we never had any truly meaningful professional lacrosse to watch over the summer. For years it was borderline impossible to even figure out how to watch professional lacrosse. It used to be that Memorial Day Weekend would roll around, we'd all get excited about the college lacrosse national championship, and then that would be it until next spring. But now that the PLL is in our lives, we get to roll right into that season the very next weekend.
Not only do we get week 1 of the 2023 PLL season this weekend, but 2 out of the 4 games will be broadcasted on ABC. Literally one of the 3 easiest channels on TV to watch. It doesn't matter if you're at home, at a buddy's house, or at the bar. You can turn on ABC and watch 2 games of the best lacrosse players in the world going at it this weekend. Again, it's impossible to quantify how lucky we are.
Now there's always a ton of uncertainty heading into week 1. Obviously it's the start of a new season, which is tough to predict in any league. But especially the PLL considering you have some rookies entering the league whose college careers literally just ended like 6 days ago. You always have a few Canadians who aren't able to get their visas in time for opening weekend. And then there's also Game 3 of the NLL Finals on Saturday night, so there are a few guys who play in both leagues who won't be available for week 1 of the PLL season. Pretty much half the Chaos roster plays for the Bandits, and plenty of other studs play for the Colorado Mammoth.
So while it might be a total crapshoot as far as picking games go this weekend, here's everything you need to know heading into week 1 of action.
Sidenote: Biggest lock of the week is that it's going to be a downright horrific weekend to be a light beer at the Bar Down Beer Garden if you're making the trip to Albany and are 21+.
PLL Week 1 Schedule // Albany, NY (All odds via Barstool Sportsbook)
Saturday, 1pm // Redwoods (+175) vs Atlas (-230) // Total: 24.5 // ABC
Opening game of the season and I think I might already call this my championship preview. The Redwoods always have one of the best defenses in the league, and every year they keep adding better offensive pieces to go with it. The Atlas are so goddamn loaded that you could build a roster around the guys who they cut at training camp this week and they'd probably be a playoff team. So both teams are loaded, both teams have two of the best faceoff guys on the planet, and both teams have goalies who can steal you a game.
I wouldn't expect this game to necessarily blow your dick off right away. It's still week 1 and there's still plenty of rust to knock off. But as far as picking a game to throw on ABC to get new fans into the league, I think the PLL crushed this matchup. I don't think there's enough juice to go with Atlas on the pick, and I also think the total is probably right on the dot. So I'd just sit back, relax, and enjoy this game without any financial obligations. But if you simply had to go with anything, Redwoods ML probably means the under hits.
Saturday, 3:30pm // Cannons (+210) vs Archers (-278) // Total: 23.5 // ESPN+
Cannons and Archers are probably the two teams who will look the most different this year than last. For the Archers, they blew up the core on offense a little bit and reunited Grant Ament with Mac O'Keefe. Anybody who watched how nasty that Penn State team in 2019 was knows that putting Ament and O'Keefe on the field together is a cheat code. Add a guy like Matt Moore to the mix and now that's the most well-rounded attack lineup in the game.
The Cannons are going to look a lot different because Lyle Thompson decided to take a summer off from the PLL. He's a top 3 lacrosse player on the planet right now, but the amount of travel this league requires definitely can't be easy on guys who have families at home. So while it sucks we won't get to watch Lyle in the PLL this year, taking the year off now probably means we'll get to still see plenty more from him in the future. But without Lyle, I just don't know how good this Cannons team could possibly be. They were already super shaky last year going 1-9. This year they'll have Asher Nolting with a year of experience under his belt, a new head coach, a few new veteran additions to the lineup. So they'll have enough to keep up with teams all summer long, I just don't know if they'll have enough to actually beat them. Go ahead and take the over in this one.
Sunday, 1pm // Chaos (+185) vs Waterdogs (-245) // Total: 23.5 // ABC
Chaos and Waterdogs are probably the two teams who get fucked the hardest by the NLL Finals still going on right now. The Chaos are basically missing half of their roster with all the guys playing for the Bandits. And then the Waterdogs are missing goalie Dillon Ward while he's in net for the Colorado Mammoth. So without all those guys in the mix, this game gets pretty impossible to pick.
The rest of the Waterdogs lineup is pretty much the same from the squad that won the Championship last September. You've got Sowers, you've got McArdle, you've got Currier. That should be enough to win you a game on any given week. But when you're going up against Blaze Riorden in net for Chaos, that pretty much cancels everything out. So the Chaos are missing some fire power to keep up with the Waterdogs offense, but they have a goalie who can hold them up. The Waterdogs are missing an absolute monster in net for them, but the Chaos offense doesn't have a ton of guys to work with now until the Buffalo boys come back. I'm just gonna go ahead and take the under in this one. Probably something like a 12-9 final for Waterdogs.
Sunday, 3:30pm // Whipsnakes (-134) vs Chrome (+105) // Total: 22.5 // ESPN+
This is year 5 of the PLL. So far, the Whipsnakes have won the first 2 championships in league history, they played for a championship but lost in the 3rd year, and they finished the regular season as the best team in the league last year. They're a complete and total wagon. They'll be without Zed Williams as he wraps up the NLL Finals this weekend with Colorado. But as the old adage goes, nobody gets rich betting against the Whipsnakes. So just keep that in mind all season long.
The Chrome come into the season after winning the Championship Series tournament over the winter. They had a massive bounce back summer in 2022 after finishing in dead last in 2021. They have one of the beefiest lineups in the league with mutants like Colin Heacock, Dylan Molloy, Logan Wisnauskus, and now Sam Handley at offense. They're all massive and they're all problems. They've got plenty of meat on defense, and even more steak in the cage. So if you're a fan of big boy lacrosse, then you're a fan of the Chrome. I'd expect to see a matchup between these two teams somewhere down the line with the winner moving on and the loser going home. As far as the game this weekend goes…Whips aren't a team you can always trust with the spread, but Whipsnakes ML is always a sensible play in this economy.