Preseason is over, it's game time. The first week of the NFL season always throws up some lines that bettors find a bit strange. It’s important to remember that wagering in September is far different from wagering in December and January. In these opening weeks, shopping around for early moneylines is highly recommended.
Take, for example, the opening game of the 2022 NFL campaign. The disparity in the numbers is not great. The Bills are giving up one point initially on the road, but that will not last, as Buffalo is trending toward even (-110) on FanDuel, which is good news for Bills bettors.
With 16 games and no teams yet on a bye, the season’s first couple of weeks will feel like a logjam. However, breaking things down is fairly simple, even with a 14-game Sunday slate. Here is how.
There are nine early games, four late games, and one Sunday night contest. Outside of the Thursday night opener, Tampa Bay and Dallas may be the week's best matchup.
Thursday, September 8 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.
The Los Angeles Rams get champions’ treatment as they kick the NFL season off at home against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football. The “Opening Kickoff” - against one of the NFL’s most dynamic offensive teams in the Buffalo Bills - is the first step in the Super Bowl 56 Champions’ road to defending their crown.
Most pundits will forget that Buffalo also featured one of the top defenses in the league last year, allowing a league-low of 17 points per game. Combined with an offense that scored nearly 500 points (483), every game against the Bills is going to be a formidable test. Buffalo will also be highly motivated to avenge their heartbreaking Divisional Round loss to Kansas City Chiefs in January.
As for Los Angeles, Matthew Stafford still has several weapons at his disposal, led, of course, by Cooper Kupp. It will be intriguing to see how Stafford and the Rams' offense performs with the weight of Super Bowl expectations (or, at least expectations for a Super Bowl breakthrough) lifted off their shoulders. Winning a title could produce that first-week hiccup, as it almost did last year with Tampa Bay against Dallas.
Again, it is a risk-taking Buffalo on the moneyline is a sound bet.
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Saturday, September 11 at 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS.
One of this season’s burning questions will be how Lamar Jackson looks in his return to the field after an injury-plagued second half in 2021. Jackson only played in 12 games, and Baltimore limped to an 8-9 record - including a six-game losing streak at one point - and missed the playoffs. However, when Jackson was fully healthy, the Ravens looked dangerous which has helped them earn one of our recommendations for the AFC North predictions. Bettors and fans are surely wondering what might have been.
The New York Jets, in contrast, are a team with few expectations. Most experts have pegged for five, maybe six wins this season. The Jets gave up the most points in the NFL in 2021 (504), with an offense that didn’t break 300 points until the final week of the season. It was rough.
One ray of hope for the Jets is that the Ravens tend not to blow teams out on the road. The last time (and only time in 2021) they beat the spread on the road was in a Week 4 win in Denver. This line is risky, given the Jets' offense, but six points at home is not a big ask. Take the Jets +6 on Sunday of Week 1.
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Saturday, September 11 at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX.
The New York Giants endured one of their worst seasons last year and, after guiding the team to a 4-13 season, head coach Joe Judge was fired. With a terrible point differential of -158 (the franchise’s worst since 1966), for much of last season, the Giants were an easy beat.
Tennessee, meanwhile, made the playoffs last season as the AFC’s top seed, but unfortunately did not have a healthy Derrick Henry for the playoffs. That made all the difference, as, despite the Titans sacking Joe Burrow an incredible nine times, the Cincinnati Bengals waltzed in and defeated the Titans at home. This is a team that often plays things close, with the final margin of three points or less in four of their final five games in 2021.
The thought process here is that the Titans should be able to get off to a resounding start at home against a New York team that could not get out of its own way last year, playing its first game under a new coach. Tennessee will also have last year’s Week 1 blowout loss (38-13) at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals fresh in their minds. Pick the Titans, even giving up 6.5 points, as Henry will likely run wild.
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Saturday, September 11 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.
Yes, Tom Brady is back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, all indications are that a healthy Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will be back for the Cowboys. If those assumptions are correct, look for this Sunday night contest to be full of fireworks.
Last season, these teams met in Week 1 and delivered a 31-29 feast for the senses, in which Brady and Prescott lit up the skies (Dak topped 400 yards in the narrow defeat). Dallas led the league in points scored last year (531) and could do so again this season.
Tampa Bay has fewer weapons, while Dallas seems primed. September has been very kind to the Cowboys and getting nearly a field goal is excellent value. Take Dallas to cover and consider picking them to win outright in the season’s first Sunday night game.
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Fans are eagerly awaiting the return of American Football. In the meantime, if you're interested in more football content, be sure to read our guide: How To Bet on American Football and visit our odds comparison tool to compare the latest odds.