The league dropped the 2022 NFL schedule earlier this month and sportsbooks were quick to pounce. They wasted no time bringing to market a whole slew of NFL odds and lines for bettors to sink their teeth into.
Yes, the start of the season is still three months away. A lot can happen between now and then that could impact the landscape significantly.
However, in this column, we look at these opening weekend NFL betting markets and spot some of the best bets that simply can’t wait. Sometimes the perceived value at early doors is just too good to ignore.
Cleveland Browns vs. Carolina Panthers
Sunday, September 11, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at Bank of America Stadium
Uncertainty presides over both these teams, but more so with the Cleveland Browns than the Carolina Panthers and a lot of it is self-inflicted.
The Browns have caused many headaches for themselves by mismanaging and mishandling many of their offseason moves. They upset Baker Mayfield by trading for Deshawn Watson and, as a result, they probably divided the locker room at the same time.
Watson’s status is up in the air. The league is still to decide whether he will face some kind of suspension that would keep him off the field at the start of the season. Should Watson be cleared of any wrongdoing by the NFL, however, the fact remains that he’s not game fit! The last competitive game he played was over a year and a half ago.
Elsewhere, the Browns released Jarvis Landry, traded away LB Mack Wilson (New England) and waived several players including DB Reggie Robinson.
A lot has happened this offseason and we’ve yet to see this team take to the field. So, how can bettors lay 3.5 points with the Browns on the road then? It seems like a lot of points right now, doesn’t it?
On a side note, isn’t it interesting that the schedulers decided to line up the Browns against the Panthers in Week 1? It’s no accident, surely.
Carolina was earmarked as a potential landing spot for Mayfield ever since the quarterback fell out with the Browns over the Watson brouhaha. It may still happen for the Browns cast-off before Week 1, though Cleveland adamantly maintains it’s not going to cut Mayfield at this point in time.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, September 11, 2022 - 04:25 PM EDT at U.S. Bank Stadium
The Green Bay Packers are slated to open their campaign against divisional rivals Minnesota Vikings, a side that they’ve dominated for the better part of Aaron Rodgers’ career. That said, in the last two seasons, these familiar foes have split the series.
Last season, the Packers lost to the Vikings 34-31 in Week 11, but then they leveled the series with a commanding 37-10 win at Lambeau Field.
The Packers are the notional road favorites across the sportsbook exchange, priced at -1.5 for this much-anticipated Week 1 contest. It’s an understated market by Green Bay’s lofty standards, but the competitiveness of this series likely has played a part in shaping this market.
The departure of wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, which sent seismic shockwaves through the NFL, is another factor.
Bolstering the offensive side of the ball and giving Rodgers more weapons is where many feel the Packers have grossly failed their veteran starter. So, losing a target such as Adams is seen as yet another instance of the organization getting it all wrong.
And yet, the Packers feel like an absolute steal bet here. Why? Well, let’s face it, there’s much about the Vikings we simply don’t know yet.
Minnesota bid adieu to long-time head coach Mike Zimmer in the offseason and hired Kevin O’Connell as the new head coach. Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, and other familiar faces are expected to return, but what the offense will look like is up in the air.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, September 11, 2022 - 04:25 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium
The Los Angeles Chargers ended their 2021 campaign on a sour note, following a 35-32 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders that ultimately eliminated them from postseason contention. The Chargers have had a lot of time to think about where it all went wrong, so it’s somewhat fitting that the schedulers would line up these bitter rivals in the first week.
Predictably, the Chargers are the favorites to win as per top-rated online sports betting sites. They have the home advantage and the incentive to atone for last season’s misstep.
In most cases, a 3.5-point spread would feel high for an opening weekend game. But not here. Considering all the comings and goings in Las Vegas, the line might not be high enough actually.
Stability, continuity, and familiarity are just some of the advantages the Chargers have over the Raiders. In the offseason, the Raiders’ office underwent a total revamp. They hired Dave Ziegler as the new GM while Josh McDaniels was brought in as the new head coach.
The Raiders made some big moves such as trading for Davante Adams, Chandler Jones and Rock Ya Sin – all great individual talents. How they fit, though, remains to be seen.
NFL Picks: Chargers -3.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports
*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.