• Best Bet: Bucs at Cowboys Over 49.5 on FanDuel
• All spreads and totals provided by BetMGM unless otherwise noted
With a 19-9 win by the Steelers against the Lions Sunday, the 2022 NFL preseason, and 2022 NFL offseason, came to a merciful end. Now it’s time to look ahead to the regular season, starting with Week 1. We wrote about bets we liked right after the schedule released in May, and to review, we took:
As you can see, there was value to be had. There is not as much value to be had now, but utilizing our PFF Greenline tool, here are some bets that I am taking about two weeks out:
I am high on Washington this year, and while I also think Jacksonville is a buy, they are my favorite fade of the 2022 Week 1 slate. Scott Turner did a pretty good job in 2021, but RB Antonio Gibson and QB Taylor Heinicke let him down. Washington was a top team in a number of the KPI that you win with (play action rate, motion rate, perfectly-blocked run rate). At least at the quarterback position, the Commanders are upgrading with Carson Wentz, and adding rookie WR Jahan Dotson should really complement the brilliance of Terry McLaurin. Jacksonville’s defense is at an underrated disadvantage here, having really only added Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd to a defense that probably needed more than that.
On the other side of the ball, the case against Washington in 2021 — and for it in 2022 — hinges on the fact that the Commanders defense plays well against poor teams and poor against great teams. They had a lot of great teams on their schedule in 2021, and do not this year, starting with Week 1.
Las Vegas Raiders (+3.5) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Unlike with Washington, I’m not really a fan of the Raiders in 2022, as I think under 8.5 wins is a decent bet. I’m torn on the Chargers. On the one hand, they have a quarterback in Justin Herbert who finished third in PFF WAR last season behind only Tom Brady and Joe Burrow, despite playing fewer games than both players. They also stocked up on their defense in the offseason, shoring up a unit that was largely the reason they missed the playoffs in 2021. However, they are the Chargers, and whether it’s fourth-down variance or injuries, they always find a way to struggle more than they should. J.C. Jackson’s preseason surgery is just another example of this.
Thus, I like the Raiders in this spot. Without Jackson, they should be able to find space for the newly-acquired Davante Adams, with Hunter Renfrow finding the residual open areas. Their offensive line is a big question mark, especially against Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, but the ability for Adams and Renfrow to get open in the first 2.5 seconds of a play should mollify that disadvantage sufficiently to keep this game at a field goal or less.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Over 49.5 (FanDuel)
This one is something of a resistance on the steam toward the under that has come after a myriad of injuries to players on both offenses — including stars Chris Godwin, Tyron Smith, Michael Gallup, Ryan Jensen — and others with injuries that are impacting this number.
Additionally, this is one of the higher totals of Week 1, after last year’s game sailed over the total of 52 outdoors in Tampa Bay. But our Greenline models say that while the injuries are significant, there is over a one percent edge on the game, and we make it around 51.5. The big reasons for this are the two offensive play callers. Despite injuries along the offensive lines, their pass rates — and abilities to get more done through the air than average coordinators — will make it really difficult for these offenses not to pace up and score enough points for the over to cash here.