As our guy Jim Nantz says: “Hello, friends!” The NFL is finally back in our lives with the regular-season opener and, boy, do we have a doozy of a matchup to begin the 2022 campaign. The defending Super Bowl champion Rams will unveil their banner and then begin their quest to repeat when they play host to the current betting favorite to win it all this year in the Buffalo Bills.
Here, we’ll specifically be looking at the different betting angles that this game has to offer. Along with the spread and total, we’ll also take a look at several player props and hand in our picks for how we see this prime-time matchup unfolding.
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
Date: Thursday, Sept. 8 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)
TV: NBC | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Bills -2.5, O/U 52
Los Angeles Rams
This line initially had the Rams as a 1-point favorite when the schedule was released back in May. By the time our cookouts were done after the Fourth of July, this turned into a pick’em on July 6 and the pendulum started to swing in Buffalo’s favor. By the end of July and into early August, the Bills became the 1-point favorite and were soon bet up to -2.5 by Aug. 7 and that has held leading into Thursday’s head-to-head.
The pick: Rams +2.5. The defending champs are getting disrespected here. As good as the Bills are expected to be this season as the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl, the Rams are no slouch either. They have a defense that should be able to slow down this high-flying offense and while Matthew Stafford’s elbow injury is a bit of a concern long-term it shouldn’t be a factor in Week 1. It’s also worth mentioning that they have history on their side. Since Super Bowl XXIV, the defending champions are 13-6-2 ATS in Week 1 and 18-3 SU.
Key trend: L.A. is 5-0 SU and ATS in Week 1 since Sean McVay took over as head coach in 2017.
As you’d expect for a game that boasts two scoring offenses, the total has remained north of 50 points since its inception. It opened at 52.5 and moved as high as 53.5 by late August, but has since come back down to 52 on the eve of his matchup.
The pick: Under 52. While both of these teams have top-tier offenses, their defensive units are among the best in the NFL as well. Last year, Buffalo allowed the fewest points in the NFL at 17 per game and the Rams weren’t bad in that area either, allowing 21.9 points per game.
Key trend: The Under is 20-7 in the Rams’ last 27 home games.
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -194, Under +139)Passing yards: 275.5 (Over -103, Under -133)Rushing yards: 35.5 (Over -127, Under -108)Passing attempts: 36.5 (Over -127, Under -108)
Rushing attempts: 6.5 (Over -125, Under -109)Longest pass completion: 37.5 (Over -119, Under -115)Completions: 24.5 (Over -117, Under -117)Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -108, Under -127)
The Over 35.5 pass attempts for Allen is a good spot to attack, especially in a game where the total is north of 50 points. The Bills have thrown 57% of the time dating to the 2020 season and Allen has averaged 36.9 pass attempts per game over that stretch during the regular season. I also like his 9/1 odds to score the game’s first touchdown and he’s +150 to reach the end zone at any point in the game. Last year, Allen saw 30 rushing attempts in the red zone. To give that more context, Devin Singletary saw 38 attempts in the red area.
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -194, Under +139)Passing yards: 274.5 (Over -103, Under -133)Rushing yards: 1.5 (Over -125, Under -109)Passing attempts: 36.5 (Over -103, Under -133)Longest pass completion: 37.5 (Over -103, Under -133)Completions: 24.5 (Over -103, Under -133)Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -145, Under +106)
The Under on Stafford’s passing attempts is a lean here for me. Not only does his elbow injury give me pause, but his average attempts per game during the 2021 regular season were also below this number at 35.3. That also held true in the playoffs. The improved health of the backfield with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson getting the green light for this game also may eat into Stafford’s passing attempts. I also like the Under 0.5 interceptions at plus money for Stafford as he’ll play against a Bills secondary that is still without star corner Tre’Davious White.
Player props to consider
Isaiah McKenzie total receptions: Over 3.5 (+118). McKenzie outright beat Jamison Crowder for the starting job as Buffalo’s slot receiver this summer and is now adopting the role left by Cole Beasley. Last year, Beasley averaged seven targets per game in this exact role that McKenzie is coming into and that’s enough volume for us to take the Over here at plus money.
Ben Skowronek total receiving yards: Over 19.5 (-108). With Van Jefferson ruled out for this game, Skowronek should see some added work in the L.A. passing game. In 2021, the Rams lined up in three-wide receiver sets in 92% of their passing plays, which was by far the most in the NFL. With Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson garnering most of the attention, Skowronek should find himself facing favorable coverage and big windows for Stafford to find him. In the one game he started last year, he hauled in a 35-yard catch which is all we’d need here.