Betting News & Analysis

10 early bets to make for Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

• While the Buffalo Bills are widely considered the best team in the NFL entering 2022, consider the Los Angeles Rams moneyline (+115).

• It's hard to glean much from preseason action, but the Washington Commanders' first-team offense left something to be desired, providing value on the Jaguars spread (+3)

• The Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints are both Week 1 favorites to consider betting on.


The 2022 NFL preseason has officially come to a close. And with the first game of the season just a few days, here are the 10 bets to consider making ahead of Week 1.

Note: Odds and totals sourced from BetMGM as of Aug. 29


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BUFFALO BILLS @ LOS ANGELES RAMS (+115)

It’s not very often that the defending Super Bowl champions are underdogs in Week 1. But that’s the case for the Rams in their home opener against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football. The defending Super Bowl champion in Week 1 has won outright in six of the past seven contests.

Buffalo might be the most talented team in the NFL, but Los Angeles matches up with them incredibly well. The Rams were 8-3 straight up at home last season and a perfect 3-0 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog. Getting the Rams at home at plus money is too good of a bet to pass up.

Best Bet: Los Angeles Rams ML (+115)


BALTIMORE RAVENS (-7) @ NEW YORK JETS

Joe Flacco will likely get the start for the Jets against his former team. But should you have any faith that he can cover the spread at home? The answer is no, as the Ravens are one of the NFL's best teams in Week 1 of the regular season.

In the three Week 1 games in which Lamar Jackson has started, Baltimore averaged more than 41 points per contest (124 total points). In those same three games, they allowed a combined 49 points. John Harbaugh is one of the NFL’s best coaches in Week 1 — his teams rarely lose and usually wind up blowing out their opponents.

Against a much inferior team with a backup quarterback under center, take the Ravens -7 with confidence in Week 1. It just feels unlikely that the Jets will be able to hang with the Ravens in this contest.

Best Bet: Baltimore Ravens (-7)


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ CHICAGO BEARS OVER

The 49ers and Bears played last season in Chicago, with the 49ers winning 33-22 in one of the most fun games of the year. That contest featured plenty of big plays from Deebo Samuel, Elijah Mitchell and Brandon Aiyuk. That could easily happen again, as the Bears have one of the worst defensive lines in the NFL entering the season. It's going to be difficult for Chicago to stop San Francisco on the ground, and that should lead to a ton of points.

Kyle Shanahan's offense can be very difficult to stop early in the season, too. His teams have averaged 28.4 points per game in September (since 2018). Don't expect that to change against one of the worst run defenses from a year ago.

As long as Justin Fields can help the Bears score 20 or more points, the over in this game should hit with ease. Chicago’s offense was among the worst in the NFL last season, but it should be an improved unit with Fields' continued development and Darnell Mooney.

Best Bet: Over 41.5 points


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-5.5) @ ATLANTA FALCONS

The Falcons have had some success against the Saints in past seasons, but that was with Matt Ryan under center. Things now look a lot different in Atlanta, with Marcus Mariota leading the offense behind a lackluster offensive line. Atlanta’s offense going up against one of the NFL’s top defenses doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, especially with a middling receiver corps.

The Saints should be able to control both sides of the line of scrimmage in this matchup, and it would be a shock if the Falcons scored 20 or more points. For that reason alone, take the Saints to win and cover in Atlanta in Week 1.

Best Bet: New Orleans Saints (-5.5)


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+3) @ WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

It's hard to glean too much from the preseason, but there weren't many positives from Washington's first-string offense. Carson Wentz averaged under 6.4 yards per attempt and the defense will be without Chase Young for the first four games of the season.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars' defense looked surprisingly good in limited action in the preseason. Jacksonville should get a considerable boost under new head coach Doug Pederson, and it wouldn't be a shock if they pulled off the Week 1 upset over the Commanders. It’s also worth noting that Pederson has a career record of 4-1 in Week 1 as a head coach and his teams are a combined 6-2 against Washington since 2017.

This should be a reasonably close game, so getting the Jaguars plus three points is a great value. Don’t be afraid to take the Jaguars and the points here, but betting them on the moneyline isn’t a bad idea, either.

Best Bet: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3)


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-3.5) @ ARIZONA CARDINALS

Betting against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes early in the season is a bad idea. Since becoming the full-time starter in 2018, Mahomes has an 11-2 record in September with a 121.5 career passer rating. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 41-to-3 and he has averaged an absurd 8.82 yards per attempt.

On top of Mahomes being incredible in the first month of the season, Andy Reid has proven to be arguably the NFL's best head coach in Week 1. His record is 16-8 in Week 1 and the Chiefs have not lost a season opener since 2014.

The Cardinals have been a pretty good team early in the season with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but it's not wise to bet against the Chiefs, even as a road favorite. Take the Chiefs at -3.5 now before that line rises before kickoff.

Best Bet: Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5)


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ HOUSTON TEXANS UNDER

The good news for the Texans this season is that their offense is poised to make a leap with second-year quarterback Davis Mills. The bad news is that they need him to be significantly better to compete against their division rivals. The Texans totaled three points in two games against the Colts last season. Yes, you read that right. Three points.

The Colts still have one of the best defenses in the NFL, even if Shaquille Leonard misses this game. Indianapolis should win the battle up front and make life difficult for Houston on offense. Look for the Colts to run the ball early and often on the other side of the ball and limit the number of possessions in this contest.

Best Bet: Under 44.5 points


GREEN BAY PACKERS (-2.5) @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The Mike Zimmer-led Vikings had some success against the Packers over the past few years. Minnesota is a combined 7-4-1 against Green Bay in the previous 12 games, and Aaron Rodgers has occasionally struggled against Zimmer due to pressure from the Vikings' front four.

But with the Vikings having a first-year head coach and a rebuilt defense for 2022, it only makes sense that they could get off to a slow start. They are implementing a brand-new offense under Kevin O'Connell that will take some time to learn.

While there are still some questions about the Green Bay offense with Rodgers, expect the Packers' defense to show out and win this game. This game should be close in typical NFC North fashion, but with the Packers ultimately winning by more than a field goal.

Best Bet: Green Bay Packers -2.5


NEW YORK GIANTS @ TENNESSEE TITANS UNDER

The Titans were the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season, but it wasn't their offense that got them there. In fact, their offense was in the middle of the pack, averaging just 24.6 points per game. That unit appears to be even less explosive now after the loss of A.J. Brown, so Tennessee will need to lean on its elite defense to win games.

Mike Vrabel's team has a very favorable opponent in Week 1, as the Giants might field the worst offense in the NFL this season. Tennessee should be able to handle them up front and control the game with their rushing attack. It’s worth noting that the Titans allowed just 17 points per game at home last season, third-best in the NFL. Points will be difficult to come by in this game, so take the under, as both sides could struggle to score more than 20 points.

Best Bet: Under 43.5 points


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-1.5) @ DALLAS COWBOYS

The Buccaneers and the Cowboys met in Week 1 last season, with Tom Brady and Dak Prescott going back and forth all night. That game could have gone either way, but the Buccaneers won it thanks to a late field goal.

However, the Cowboys had a significantly better offensive line going into that game, with both Tyron Smith and La’el Collins on the field. Going into this contest, they will be without Smith (injury), Collins (released) and Connor Williams (free agent) from a year ago. It's still unknown who will start at left tackle, which could be a major problem for the entire offense. They also don't have the same weapons from a year ago, which makes it even more unlikely they could go toe-to-toe with Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers are not without their warts, but they are the more talented team entering this contest. Brady has never lost to Dallas (6-0) and has an absurd 15-4 record in Week 1. Expect Tampa Bay to win — and certainly to do so by more than 1.5 points.

Best Bet: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1.5

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