Week 1 of the NFL is finally here and although the top sportsbooks released their NFL odds for this week’s season-opening action months ago, I wish to focus on the season-opener, a high-profile matchup between the Bills and Rams on Thursday Night Football.
While both teams are very good, I contend that one team has a clear edge over the other. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.
Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams
Thursday, September 8, 2022 – 08:20 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium
Bills vs. Rams Week 1 NFL Odds
But one of the worst things a bettor can do is to guess whether a given line is a "trap." One fact that helps combat the notion that oddsmakers are "up to something" is the opening line: L.A., in fact, opened as a small favorite for this game.
Media-generated hype has done a lot to generate optimism among bettors in Buffalo not just in view of this game but in view of this season.
In addition to bettors buying into this hype, they have made Buffalo favored likely because they superficially expect some measure of complacency in the Rams after their Super Bowl triumph.
Week 1 Trend
But perhaps no other coach is better than Sean McVay at preparing his team for season openers. Under his tenure, L.A. is 5-0 SU and ATS in Week 1. L.A.'s season-opening readiness and success have persisted even in difficult situations.
For example, it has become a commonplace assumption that teams that lose the Super Bowl will suffer a "hangover" in the following season. But the Rams contested this assumption by contributing to this ongoing trend back in 2019 after they lost Super Bowl LIII with a road win against the Panthers (30-27) in Week 1.
While Bill bettors think that the Rams will not altogether "be there," meaning they will be complacent, it is the Bills who will suffer for not completely being there.
The most important injury affecting this game is Tre'Davious White's. A reliable All-Pro selection, White would have been, by far, Buffalo's best cornerback. White is the guy Buffalo wants against top wide receivers.
Last year, for example, he did a strong job of limiting the likes of Steeler Diontae Johnson and Chief Tyreek Hill in terms of their yardage output.
Darkness Without White
Without White, Buffalo will have to rely on:
- Dane Jackson
- Kaiir Elam
- Christian Benford
There is not a lot of proven NFL experience among this residual group of cornerbacks.
In fact, Elam and Benford are rookies.
While showing vulnerability to longer receptions -- he allowed 14.7 yards per reception -- and struggling against the likes of Falcon Olamide Zaccheaus -- Jackson lacks White's strong track record against tough wide receivers.
Allen Robinson and Matt Stafford
While Buffalo's cornerback group regresses without White, new Ram receiver Allen Robinson's positive outlook becomes more positive in multiple ways. Robinson has been eminently productive despite having awful Bear quarterbacks throw to him.
Last year, he had Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields as his quarterbacks. He gets a massive upgrade in Matthew Stafford.
Stafford, last season, was way better than both Dalton and Fields in metrics like true passer rating and accuracy rating. The latter stat is particularly revealing of Stafford's individual quality because a quarterback's accuracy is rather up to him than up to his wide receivers.
This year, Stafford should even improve because he had to learn McVay's system. His second year will show greater comfort in the Ram offense, which will allow him to process things and play better overall.
Of course, there's the NFL's top wide receiver, Cooper Kupp, who achieved the "triple crown" last year in that he led the NFL in:
- Receiving yards
- Receiving touchdowns
He'll sometimes line up inside, which helps him disguise his path and forces the defense to account for the possibility that he may go left or right.
But Kupp gladly lines up anywhere on the field, and he will be too much to handle for Buffalo's regressed cornerback group.
Buffalo suffered a significant blow in losing offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to the Giants. While they replaced him internally, by promoting quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey to Daboll's former position, this solution is not as positive as it may seem.
It is easy to sell this promotion as an indication of continuity. Supposedly, because Dorsey worked under Daboll, he'll just become Daboll. One cannot simply forget how good Daboll was, though, at what he did.
For example, he excelled at making adjustments. His offense evolved over time in a way that suited quarterback Josh Allen's playing style.
Figuring Things Out
Moreover, Daboll could change things, while still remaining attentive to Allen's playstyle, when defenses figured things out -- when, for example, defenses began trying to take away his favored crossing routes and Daboll responded by becoming more aggressive.
Dorsey has never been a play-caller on any level. He has a lot to learn, still, beyond just calling plays.
Quite beyond just developing a positive working relationship with Allen, he has a lot to learn as an offensive coordinator, and this necessity to grow -- with Allen and as the new offensive coordinator -- will be most readily apparent in this Week 1.
Score Prediction and NFL Picks
This game is one of Week 1's key matchups and also one of the highest posted totals. It feels too high, particularly in view of Buffalo's offensive setback under its new offensive coordinator.
Therefore, if you want to play both side and total with your NFL picks, I recommend investing in the Rams and the "under."
But if I had to go with one play, I would choose the Rams ATS because of my confidence in their pass attack.
Score Prediction: Bills 20 - Rams 30
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.