Welcome to Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.
Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. For now, here's our take on Thursday night's opener.
Check back for our best bets for Sunday and Monday as we get closer to kickoff.
Buffalo Bills (-2.5, 52) at Los Angeles Rams
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Josh Appelbaum: The public is all over Buffalo, with roughly 70% of spread bets laying the points with the Bills. This lopsided support has pushed Buffalo up from a 1-point dog to a 2.5-point road favorite. If you bet the Bills early, you’re beating the closing line. But at this point, the value play is now buying low on the Rams + 2.5 at home.
Week 1 underdogs went 12-4 ATS last season and are now 58% ATS since 2016. Prime-time dogs are 59% ATS over the past two seasons. Sean McVay is 9-6 ATS as a dog in his career. If you walk into a bar or sportsbook tonight, nearly everyone is wearing a Bills jersey and sweating Buffalo, so I have to go the other way. The Rams have inflated line value and are in a rare spot as a defending Super Bowl champion getting points at home with little-to-no public support. Los Angeles is also in a prime teaser spot. By taking the Rams + 2.5 to + 8.5 you pass through the key numbers of 3 and 7.
Pick: Rams + 2.5
Wes Reynolds: If you talk to almost any bookmaker in Las Vegas, around the country, or even offshore regarding Super Bowl futures bets, they will give you the answer of 1990’s R&B group Destiny’s Child’s No. 1 1999 hit: “Bills, Bills, Bills” as bettors cannot seem to get enough of Buffalo -- the clear favorite to win Super Bowl LVII.
It is no surprise to see the Bills get the backing here with the futures liability, plus the fact that they will have to see the Rams getting their Super Bowl LVI banner raised and thinking “that should have been us.” Stafford also saw no action in preseason coming off elbow surgery.
While the Buffalo offense is loaded with weapons across the board, there is still some transition with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey being promoted to offensive coordinator as Brian Daboll has moved on to be the New York Giants head coach. The offense will by and large stay the same, but this is Dorsey’s first time as a playcaller, so he may be a little more deliberate and a little less aggressive early.
Sean McVay is 5-0 ATS as Rams head coach in season openers, so he is an excellent game-planner. When the market is relatively lopsided on a prime time, stand-alone game, I oftentimes like to fade the line move in the first half specifically. The market consensus first half opener was Rams + 1 and there are still some available (i.e. DraftKings, BetRivers). Most of the market is now less at + 0.5 for the first half and yet the market is still holding strong for the full game at Bills -2.5.
Pick: Rams 1H + 1 (-120)
Adam Burke: The ongoing questions about Matthew Stafford’s elbow will be answered in Week 1, but it is fair to wonder how effective and on-target the 34-year-old will be against a solid Bills defense. He also has a new offensive coordinator in Liam Coen, who was with the Kentucky Wildcats last season.
DraftKings has a couple of interesting numbers on kicker Matt Gay: Over/Under 6.5 Points (Over -120) and Over/Under 1.5 Field Goals (Over -110). The Bills had the top-rated defense last season, albeit against the weakest schedule in the NFL, so they may stand tall and hold the Rams to field goals while also giving up scoring opportunities.
As explosive and potent as the Rams’ offense was, they still ranked 14th in red-zone touchdown percentage last season while having the third-most red-zone attempts. As a result, Gay was a busy man, as he made at least two field goals in 12 of 17 games and had at least eight points in 14 of 17 games. He was 32-of-34 on field goals in the regular season and only missed one of his 49 extra-point attempts.
I think the Over on both props makes sense and there is obviously a correlation between the two. If Gay kicks two field goals, it’s really hard to see him going without an extra point. With slightly lower vig on Over 1.5 FG (-110) than Over 6.5 Points (-120), I’ll call that one the best bet, but I do like both of them.
Pick: Matt Gay Over 1.5 FG (-110)