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NFL Week 1 Betting Preview: Bills-Rams Kicks Off The 2022 Season In Style, And What An Incredible Opening Slate It Is!

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The 2022 NFL season officially kicks off tomorrow. Here we go with a betting preview that may or may not be weekly, depending on views, etc. In case you haven't caught some of my other betting-related content since I began blogging here and are wondering, "Who the fuck is THIS GUY to be dishing out NFL betting analysis to me?" Well, funny story, that…

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I was initially hired at Barstool to assemble a sports betting newsletter covering every major sport. Despite overwhelmingly positive internal feedback, it never launched. Rather than me being let go, another doorway opened. Fast forward about 5.5 months and 378 blog posts later (most of them of a not-insignificant word count) and here I am.

Speaking of word count, this thing is LONG. I'm sure if we carry on, I'll streamline. Or get better at TikTok to present more information that way. I'm workshopping here! But let me tell you the lead up to NFL kickoff has been a dead-ass sprint so I need to play to my strengths and hopefully give you an engaging, informative and entertaining read as you figure out which Week 1 wagers you want to place. Onward…

Beginning with a potential, eventual Super Bowl matchup…

Bills at Rams, Thursday, Sept. 8 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

So what gives? Buffalo (-2.5) has gone 12-5 ATS in Week 1 lately, while reigning Super Bowl champion head coach Sean McVay (+110) is 5-0 in season openers during his Rams tenure. Those wins were by an average of 16.6 points and featured a +8 total turnover margin. Buffalo is the championship favorite at +600, as LA (+1100) lags back on odds almost twice as long for reasons unclear to me.

Although Von Miller's defection from the Rams to the Bills will play a part in this outcome, he's the visitors' only surefire pass-rushing threat. Buffalo's cornerback depth is shallow especially as Tre'Davious White still recovers from a torn ACL. As good as the Bills are at safety thanks to Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, the likes of Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson are a handful for Buffalo.

Additionally, LA acquired future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner for the heart of their defense, so considering all these factors, I'm struggling to figure out why they're underdogs at home. Everyone says momentum doesn't carry over between seasons in the NFL. I disagree when it comes to winning the Lombardi Trophy, as defending SB champs are 19-3 SU in Week 1 since 2000.

More on why I'm leaning Rams: Last regular season, Buffalo played only five of their 17 games against playoff teams: Week 1 vs. Big Ben's Steelers (loss), two AFC East clashes against rookie QB Mac Jones and New England (split), and an OT loss in Tampa. Take out their Week 5 win at Kansas City against a sputtering-at-the-time Chiefs team, and the Bills are a lot more inconsistent than anyone wants to remember. Losing their offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is a huge wild card, too. Bills QB Josh Allen (OU 275.5 passing yards), even taking into account the aforementioned soft-as-Milk-of-Magnesia-shit schedule, saw his completion percentage nosedive from 69.2% in 2020 to 63.3% last year.

One more trend: Since 2020, the Rams are 8-1 vs. the OVER as underdogs.

The plays: Rams +110, Matthew Stafford Over 270.5 passing yards, Over 52 points

Revenge game teaser!

We have a trio of prominent "revenge games." The blatant, freshest one is Baker Mayfield and the Panthers hosting the Browns. More on that one later. If you want a pick on the regular spread, give me Carolina -2 all the way. Everyone's gonna rally around Baker and it will be LIT in Charlotte.

Although years have lapsed and his successor valmorphanized into an MVP, you know ex-Raven and Jets Week 1 starting QB Joe Flacco would love to stick it to Lamar Jackson and Baltimore. Flacco once bet on himself to earn a massive payday and rode the coattails of Rahim Moore's historically bad play and many, many, many Anquan Boldin jump balls won Super Bowl MVP. Ravens fans are hoping a similar narrative plays out this year. HOWEVER, they must get past Joe Cool first!! I'm leaning Jets +7…ultimately staying away from that main line — hence looping it into a teaser.

Vengeance, Pt. 3: DangeRuss Wilson and the Broncos paying a visit to the Seahawks. Maybe it's close for a half if Seattle can control time of possession and Wilson's new pass-catchers take time to sync up. Beyond that, I have a hard time imagining Denver won't cover -6.5. I'm thinking Broncos spread for sure, especially after this story that broke Wednesday:

The TREY AREA Era starts in the Windy City

Hooooh buddy. As a big NFL Draft guy, I still can't get over the fact that the 49ers traded up to No. 3 overall in 2021, sat there, and said, "Nah, we're good — we'd rather have Trey Lance over Justin Fields!" Hoooooooooly shit was that a ballsy call.

Obviously time will tell whether that was the right move or not. Understanding some of Fields' shortcomings as a prospect, he had the far better pedigree, superior starting experience and faced much better college competition. Both Fields and Lance have a chance to be great as prototypical dual-threat QBs. Unfortunately for Fields, Lance is in a far better situation to succeed in San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan is his head coach/play-caller. Lance has a loaded skill position group, not to mention a top-flight defense.

It's important not to overreact to Week 1 — building this in, just in case, you know, all my picks blow — but if Fields looks miles and away better than Lance, despite the latter's lack of live reps in his lifetime, it's not gonna be a good look. On the other hand, intriguing stat here:

Lance doesn't need to be that dude right now for the 49ers (-7) to have little trouble marching into Soldier Field and making easy work of the outmatched Bears (+250). Chicago was an NFL-worst 3-10 ATS as underdogs last season, whereas San Francisco covered eight of 12 on the road when Jimmy G was under center. That Shanahan rushing attack travels well, and the Niners' deep backfield should give Chicago's front seven fits.

One more trend: The Bears and 49ers combined to go vs. 15-22 the UNDER in 2021. 

The plays: 49ers -7, Under 41 points

Week 1's TONE-SETTING showdowns 

Eagles (-4) at Lions (+165) — These are two of the best o-lines in football. Aidan Hutchinson joining Detroit notwithstanding, the Eagles have a big edge in the defensive trenches. Since Jameson Williams isn't in action yet for the Lions, Philly has a significant edge in skill position talent, led by WR1 A.J. Brown. The Eagles have a true dual-threat QB in Jalen Hurts who adds an element his counterpart Jared Goff simply will never have. I still like Detroit +4 on a backdoor cover, because Dan Campbell will have them fired up and playing inspired at home as an underdog to a Philly team everyone expects to break out in 2022.  

Patriots (+150) at Dolphins (-3.5/186 ML) — If anyone's going to challenge Buffalo for AFC East supremacy, it's gotta be one of these two. Couldn't be much different in their philosophies. Bill Belichick is the legendary, gruff old coach. Mike McDaniel is a breath of fresh air to the entire coaching profession in Miami, courtesy of his candor, self-deprecating humor and schematic genius. We'll either see the rookie coach get humbled by Belichick, or further proof that The Hoodie is losing touch with modern NFL reality as he watches Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle toast the shit out of his secondary. Once it's available, I'll love Waddle's Over receiving yards (can't imagine it'll exceed 60.5), and Miami -3.5. I'm a McDaniel believer and a TuAnon advocate.

Chiefs (-6) at Cardinals (+200) — Speaking of Tyreek Hill, how much will the Chiefs miss him? And now that Kyler Murray is paid in Arizona, will he rest on his laurels/mountains of cash, or be driven to get the Cardinals off to another white-hot start? Kyler won't have DeAndre Hopkins and only has an 87.9 passer rating in his carer sans Nuk. Kansas City may have growing pains to work through. It may also be a case where Patrick Mahomes suddenly expands his field vision and the Chiefs go nuts on everyone. I say they crush the Cards in the desert, so take the -6.5 alt spread at +104 to hold the juice. They'll want to make a statement as they embark on pursuing a seventh straight AFC West title.

Raiders (+150) at Chargers (-3.5/186 ML) — Speaking of the Chiefs' division, just look at those futures lines. The case against Las Vegas is pretty simple: Bad blocking up front. If Derek Carr can overcome that as he has in years past, he has Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller to throw to. The Chargers' counter is their own excellent offense led by signal-caller Justin Herbert and a solid cast of weapons. Although LA has Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack to rush the passer, Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones are just as good if not better at that than the Bolts' duo. Since CB1 J.C. Jackson is (in all likelihood) out for LA, I'd hammer Adams' over receiving yards, along with Chargers tailback Austin Ekeler's rushing+receiving yards Over, as the hosts should try to establish the run and play keep-away from the Raiders' potent passing attack. Still, with all the adversity Las Vegas overcame last year, the upgrade at WR1 in Adams and a multiple Super Bowl-winning coordinator at coach in Josh McDaniels, I believe in the Raiders at +150 in an upset. Love the Over 52 points, too. The Over is 7-1 in Las Vegas' past two Septembers, LA ended 2021 on a six-game Over streak and three of the past four meetings between these teams hit the Over as well. SHOOTOUT INCOMING. 

Buccaneers (-2.5/-141 ML) at Cowboys (+117— Two of the most questioned perceived contenders from the offseason. Tampa's banged-up offensive line and Tom Brady's bizarre retirement balk. Dallas has only one legit receiver in CeeDee Lamb and lost left tackle Tyron Smith for a long time. We've seen TB12 get off to slower starts before. No matter. Give me the GOAT and the Bucs at JerryWorld at -2.5 and the Under 51. This seems like the precise type of situation where Brady shuts everyone up.

Building a case for Sunday's biggest dog: Texans (+275) over Colts

No one has a longer moneyline than Houston. First of all, the Texans are home. They addressed their biggest weakness (pass coverage) in the draft via two downright studs in LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and versatile Baylor DB Jalen Pitre. Both are Day 1 starters. Say what you want about whether they'll be good players right away. They're upgrades from what was there and Indianapolis isn't exactly stocked to the gills with good receiving talent beyond Michael Pittman Jr.

Speaking of Stingley, never a bad time for me to plug this in case you still don't trust me/love to hate me, etc.

Another rookie atop Houston's depth chart is Florida product Dameon Pierce in the leading tailback role. Pierce's light college workload in the SEC brings to mind the situation Alvin Kamara found himself in before he exploded onto the scene for the Saints. Except Pierce has already taken over as the workhorse.

Red flag for Indy: Matt Ryan is better than Carson Wentz. That said, he lacks the athleticism to escape the pocket and extend plays on a regular basis, which could be problematic behind an overrated Colts pass-blocking o-line. The Texans low-key have some decent edge depth led by Jonathan Greenard. Not a household name, Greenard did have eight sacks in 12 games this past year.

May I also interest you in two other facts? First, Indianapolis hasn't won a regular-season opener since 2013. Secondly, check this the fuck out:

  • Texans QB Davis Mills' 2021 HOME SPLITS: 152-of-218 passing (69.7%) for 1,725 yards (7.9 YPA), 12 TDs, 1 INT, 109.6 passer rating

Tell me if you see a cooler, more mind-boggling Week 1 stat than that. I'll wait. I swear to you it's not a misprint.

Quick aside on Carson Wentz, btw:

Parlay+ special: Baker's Dozen

Panthers -12.5 alt spread, and total points UNDER 41.5 (+600)

[Bet here. I actually did this.]

Thanks to our Parlay+ feature, you can stack multiple legs from multiple games across multiple sports. Multiplicity.

Let's keep it contained to one game in particular and give ourselves a fun little longer-shot play. Any sharp betting person will tell you not bet emotionally. Some of the motivation behind my own Parlay+ here is driven by emotion. Not all of it is my own. It's the unique emotion and stakes behind the Panthers-Browns game. I think Carolina is going to rally around its new QB. Christian McCaffrey is healthy at long last and will be fired up and ready to pound the rock against Cleveland. 

Oh, did I mention Jacoby Brissett is the Browns' starting QB against a defense that finished No. 2 in total yards allowed last season? I believe this highly anticipated contest in Charlotte has 23-10 written all over it.

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Thursday night prop shopping

We're doing a test run of sorts this week in this piece, so as of this writing, the full list of props are only available for the Bills-Rams game. Here's what I like.

  • Cooper Kupp Over 91.5 receiving yards (-115): In 21 games played last season including the playoffs, Kupp went below this total in a single start only twice. Both were against the Cardinals. Although Buffalo's slot specialist Taron Johnson is a good cover corner, the chemistry Matthew Stafford and Kupp possess and the ways Sean McVay can scheme him open should create plenty of chances to go for 91+ yards. Kupp's only other game against the Bills in 2019 resulted in nine catches on 10 targets for 107 yards and a TD.
  • Gabriel Davis Over 60.5 receiving yards (-113): In his last outing, Davis destroyed the Chiefs in the Divisional Round for 201 yards and 4 TDs. He's now the clear No. 2 opposite Stefon Diggs, who'll draw a tough matchup in Jalen Ramsey. Davis' size and speed is going to test the rest of LA's secondary. Davis may only need about four catches to reach this Over.
  • Tutu Atwell TD scorer (+450): The second-year Rams wideout only got 10 offensive snaps as a rookie before a shoulder injury cut his season short. Atwell was a second-round pick out of Louisville for a reason. He offsets his smallish stature with the type of top-end speed that can have him making a house call any time he touches the ball. A full season to digest the playbook is under his belt, and Van Jefferson is officially out for Thursday night. Thus, Atwell to find the end zone is worth a sprinkle.

Value Futures Plays

I'll have, say, divisional or Super Bowl long shots, or bargain plays for awards races in this space typically, provided these weekly previews carry on. Since it's Week 1 and I've already released an entire betting guide in that vein (plugged at the end), please glimpse the awesome "Football Is Back" promo we have going at Barstool Sportsbook.

If a $100 bet feels too rich for your blood and outside your typical bankroll, think about it this way: If the team you're betting on ends up falling on its face with, say, a 7-10 record, you'd still make almost half your money back ($49) from the wins. 

Let's take an actual example based on the current odds for a real contender. The Buffalo Bills are the Super Bowl favorite at +600. If you bet $100 on them, you win $600. Buffalo's Over/Under for total wins is set at 11.5. If the Bills merely post an 11-6 record, you're refunded $77 of your $100 bet under the promo rules. In that scenario you'd be wagering a net $33 to potentially win $600. Suddenly you're getting net odds of over +1800, which would rank 10th out of 32 teams.

TBH I think the Bills are doomed via the jinx of their franchise and based on this graphic but that's just me.

Full disclosure: I personally participated in this promo and snagged the Bengals at +2000. Want to know why? Conveniently, there's this…

Seriously though, whichever team you're betting on, as long as they're not the longest of long shots and will struggle to win any games in 2022, jump all over this thing. If you're betting more on this promo than your other Super Bowl futures tickets, it still functions as a hedge in principle.


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