Week 1 Thursday Night Football is always a glorious thing to behold. In 2022, however, the NFL scheduling gods have blessed a matchup that even a Packers fan like the Gaming Society’s beloved Tony Cavallo could enjoy. The Buffalo Bills will travel to face the defending LA Rams, in what projects to be an all-out talent showcase, and hopefully, a fruitful outing for sports bettors.
The Rams enter this season coming down from cloud nine after winning their first Super Bowl since the 1999 NFL season, closing out veteran QB Matthew Stafford’s first season with the team in MAJOR fashion. A 12-5 record helped clinch them the NFC East title, while Stafford finished the year with 4,886 passing yards and 41 TDs, completing passes at a career-high 67.2% clip with a 6.8% touchdown rate.
It wasn’t as glamorous an ending for the 2021 Bills, however. They lost on the road, in overtime, to the Kansas City Chiefs, after finishing out regulation with two of the best minutes of football that we might have ever seen in the history of football. In case you need a reminder:
Down five points with 8:55 to go in the fourth quarter, Josh Allen and Co. execute a brilliant drive, lasting nearly seven minutes and taking the lead with a score and two-point conversion.
Patrick Mahomes answers quickly with a touchdown of his own, and kicker Harrison Butker follows it up with a successful extra-point attempt, leaving 1:02 on the clock.
Allen plays superhero again, driving for another touchdown, up three points with 13 seconds to go in regulation.
SOMEHOW, Mahomes answers with a pair of completions, at which point Butker knocks in a clutch 49-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
Boom, Chiefs win the coin toss. Mahomes does Mahomes-y things and throws a touchdown to Travis Kelce on the first possession of OT. Game over. Bills go home and wonder how in the hell they lost that game after the performance they saw from their hero QB.
Now, we get to see these powerhouses go head-to-head in what fans are praying turns out to be an offensive showdown for the ages.
Now let’s take a look at the board of game odds available for Bills vs. Rams, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook. Then, we’ll break down what that mess of numbers means for you as you place your bets to kick off the 2022 NFL season with some help from the lessons we’ve learned at The Betting Academy.
The moneyline is one of the most basic bet types available, despite its funky name. When you bet on the moneyline, you’re making a straight-up pick. Essentially, Vegas is asking you, “Who do you project to win the game — the Bills or the Rams?”
Vegas is projecting the Bills to swoop into SoFi Stadium and knock the Rams right off their Lombardi-based pedestal, installing their moneyline odds (AKA odds to win) at -134. The (-) indicates an outcome that Vegas projects is more likely to happen, while the “134” helps indicate what kind of profit margin you’re looking at if you win the bet. In order to win $100 by betting on the Bills moneyline, you’ll need to wager $134.
The Rams have their odds at +114 — with the (+) indicating an outcome less likely to happen, and the “114” indicating your profit margin if the Rams win. If you bet $100 on the Rams moneyline and they come out victorious, you’ll see a $114 return.
I never like to bet against Vegas, but this one seems like a no-brainer to me. Matthew Stafford + Cooper Kupp = offensive goodness. Add in a dash of Allen Robinson, the advantage of playing at home, and the fact that the last five reigning Super Bowl winners have a combined 4-1 record in Week 1, and feel good about the Rams snagging a win to open the season. Need a reminder of what this offensive goodness looks like? The NFL has you covered.
This is where things get a little bit more complicated, but don’t fret! Here is where Vegas tells us by how many points they expect the team they’re picking to win.
Bills: -2.5 (-110)
Rams: +2.5 (-110)
You may have noticed that the point spread includes a 0.5 tacked onto the end. You might be thinking, “But Kate, you can’t score half-points in the NFL!” Vegas got smart here and eliminated the possibility of the final score difference equaling the point spread, which would mean the bet pushed, AKA tied. You get your money back, and everyone goes home a loser.
If you bet the Bills point spread at -2.5, you’re betting that two things will happen: First, that the Bills will win, and second, they’ll win by outscoring the Rams by three or more points. The odds for the Bills -2.5 are at -110, so you’ll need to bet $110 to make $100.
If you bet the Rams at +2.5, you’re wagering that one of two things will happen — either the Rams will win the game or they’ll lose by two or fewer points. Just like the Bills point spread, the odds for Rams +2.5 are at -110, meaning once again, you’ll need to bet $110 to make $100.
For the Rams to cover against the Bills in Week 1, they’ll need to do one of two things: lose by two or fewer points or win the game outright. Since I’m projecting a home win for the defending Super Bowl champs, they’re inherently also my pick to cover the spread. The same applies to any underdog you’re picking to win outright; if you’re betting on them to win the game, you’re also betting on them to cover the spread. Make sense so far?
The beauty is, however, that I can cash out on that bet even without a Rams win; they just need to lose by fewer than three points. I just need Stafford’s noodle arm to hold up long enough to keep things close.
This is where we decide just how many points we think both teams will combine for throughout the game. It doesn’t matter which team scores the points; it only matters how many points are scored between the two.
Over 51.5 points: -114
Under 51.5 points: -106
To open up the NFL season, Vegas has the over/under installed at 51.5 points. If you were to bet the over, you’re betting that the Rams and Bills will combine for at minimum 52 points (Bet $114 to make $100). If you’re wagering the under, you’re betting that the Rams and Bills will combine for 51 or fewer points (Bet $106 to make $100).
The Rams averaged 27.1 points per game in 2021 (eighth-most among NFL teams), while the Bills average 28.4 points per game (third-most). That on its own should tell you something about the power these two teams pack offensively.
However, the defensive talent on each of these rosters is enough to at least pause when considering the over. Josh Allen gets to face a terrifying (but hopefully not helmet-wielding) Aaron Donald; Matthew Stafford (with his gimpy elbow in tow) will face a beefed-up Bills defensive front with newly acquired, bull-rushing LB Von Miller at the forefront. Why roll with the under, then?
We’re still talking about two elite quarterbacks with some elite offensive playmakers in tow (Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs). Points shall (hopefully) be plentiful.