The 2022 NFL season may not kickoff until Thursday, September 8, with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills as 1-point chalk, but NFL betting season is officially underway following the schedule release last Thursday.
NFL Notebook: May 16
Click on each item to read the full update.
- Notable 2022 NFL matchups
- Big Game Lane
- Mile High Club
- Will the Saints go marching?
- Non-conference cash cows
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Featured NFL games for 2022
Bookies across the industry not only posted opening spreads and totals for the Week 1 matchups, but most shops have NFL odds for every frickin’ game on the calendar.
That sets up the summer markets, which will softly shuffle those numbers over the course of three and a half months, reacting to any injuries or team news between now and Week 1 when many of those lookahead lines go dark until two weeks prior to the actual games.
The above-mentioned Thursday kickoff between the Bills and Rams is one of the sexy “circle” games on the 2022 slate, headlining a Week 1 board that features some pretty great contests: the Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (want to bet the tie?), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Dallas Cowboys (SNF), and Russell Wilson feeling the wrath of “The 12” for the first time when the Denver Broncos visit the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football.
And that’s just Week 1. Here are my must-watch, must-wager NFL games for the 2022 season and their odds (at DraftKings):
• Week 1: Bills at L.A. Rams (-1, 52) – The Super Bowl we all wanted.
• Week 2: L.A. Chargers at Chiefs (-3, 52.5) – Passing of the AFC West torch?
• Week 3: Packers at Buccaneers (-3.5) – Rodgers vs. Brady, one last time?
• Week 4: Chiefs at Buccaneers (-2.5) – Chiefs’ Super Bowl LV revenge game.
• Week 5: Cowboys at L.A. Rams (-4.5) – I said “my” must-watch games. SoFi will be a sea of silver and blue.
• Week 6: Bills at Chiefs (+1.5) – Kick the tires on the new OT rules?
• Week 7: Chiefs at 49ers (-1) – Niners’ Super Bowl LIV revenge game.
• Week 8: Packers at Bills (-4) – Allen vs. Rodgers Round 2. Last time produced… 22 points.
• Week 9: L.A. Rams at Buccaneers (-1.5) – Rams 3-0 SU and ATS vs. Brady’s Bucs
• Week 10: Cowboys at Packers (-4) – Dallas 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS vs. Packers since 2010.
• Week 11: Browns at Bills (N/A) – Watson vs. Allen, but books keeping Browns OTB.
• Week 12: L.A. Rams at Chiefs (-2.5) – Rematch of legendary 54-51 MNF matchup.
• Week 13: Chiefs at Bengals (PK) – AFC title game rematch.
• Week 14: Raiders at L.A. Rams (-4) – Silver and Black take over SoFi Stadium.
• Week 15: Bengals at Buccaneers (-3) – Burrow vs. Brady has Disney+ feels.
• Week 16: Broncos at L.A. Rams (-3.5) – Wilson career 3-8 SU and 4-7 ATS vs. Rams.
• Week 17: Bills at Bengals (PK) – Give us the Over 1,000 points please...
• Week 18: Ravens at Bengals (-3) – Hopefully Lamar can survive to see this finale.
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Big Game Lane
The Rams and Bengals start 2022 with big expectations after their run to the Super Bowl last winter. Those respective conference titles put a target on their backs for the coming season as well as puff up the pointspreads a touch.
While Super Bowl champs are 14-7-1 ATS (67%) in Week 1 of the following season since 2000, the team that lost out on the Lombardi Trophy is a dismal 5-17 ATS in Week 1 in that same span – covering just 23% of the time.
The Bengals try to shake off that Super Bowl hangover at home to Pittsburgh in Week 1, giving 6.5 points to their divisional rivals. The Steelers will be playing their first game of the post-Roethlisberger era with new QB Mitchell Trubisky under center (or maybe rookie Kenny Pickett?).
Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs beat Cleveland 33-29 in the season opener but just fell short as -5.5 closing line favorites after coming back from a 22-10 hole at the half.
Mile High Club
The Broncos are making a run at the Super Bowl this season, trading for star quarterback Russell Wilson to help complement one of the better defensive units in the league.
Regardless of who’s been under center, Denver has been a tough place to play for the Broncos’ home opener. The team is an incredible 19-3 SU and 14-4-4 ATS in its first home game of the schedule since 2000. That includes a 26-0 blasting of the New York Jets as 10-point home chalk in Week 3 last year.
The Broncos are once again laying some lumber in the home opener in 2022, pegged as 10-point favorites hosting the hapless Houston Texans in Week 2. This spread will likely climb as the Texans probably lose to Indianapolis in Week 1 (+8.5) and Denver could be coming off a win at Seattle on MNF (-4) in Wilson’s return to Lumen Field.
I’ll be honest. Most betting trends are shit but this “home opener” angle for the Broncos has a well-explained narrative behind it.
Even with training camps and preseason reps, players aren’t in full-game shape this early into the schedule. Playing in Denver forces teams to climb 5,279 feet above sea level where the air is thin and the oxygen will be as scarce as bets on the Texans in this tilt. Visitors are left sucking wind while the Broncos bully them in front of the Mile High faithful.
Even a potential letdown spot after Wilson’s Seattle reunion won’t scare me away from betting this one in the middle of May, avoiding what will be a monster spread by game day.
Will the Saints go marching?
The New Orleans Saints’ season win total and respective lookahead lines don’t add up, indicating that neither books nor bettors know what the heck to expect in the Big Easy this season.
The Saints’ projections for 2022 are tempered, at least since Tom Brady backpedalled on his retirement and gave the rest of the NFC South the finger. Books have NOLA’s win total parked between 8 (Over -130) and 8.5 (Under -125), which would put the Saints back on the fence in terms of a Top 7 spot in the conference.
However, New Orleans is an underdog in 11 of its 17 games this season (likely 12 with Week 16 at Cleveland off the board), which means those lookahead lines project only five wins for the Saints. But NOLA is a pup of a field goal or less in eight of those contests, including catching points at home in six of those games (four as a 1-point home dog).
New Orleans recently added veteran WR and former LSU standout Landry Jones to a pass-catching corps that features Michael Thomas, Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, rookie wideout Chris Olave, and dual-threat RB Alvin Kamara.
Quarterback Jameis Winston re-upped with the Saints after passing for 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions in seven games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2021, with the team posting a 5-2 SU mark in that span.
Sean Payton has retired as head coach, but the torch is passed to long-time defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and the team retained offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, so continuity should keep everything clicking for the Saints.
New Orleans’ “Yes/No” playoff prop has a postseason ticket priced at +150 with the “No” playoffs sitting at -170.
Non-conference cash cow
A strange trend emerged in 2021 whenever AFC teams took on NFC teams. Non-conference contests finished with a 29-51-1 Over/Under record – staying below the total in 64% of those matchups - including Super Bowl LVI (23-20 final score played Under 48.5-point total).
Since #NFL Wk 18 is all divisional games, we won't get another non-conference game until Super Bowl.— Jason Logan (@CoversJLo) January 6, 2022
Non-conference games went 29-50-1 O/U (63% Unders) compared to conference contests at 85-90-1 O/U (51% Unders).
Best non-con Under bet: Jaguars 0-5 O/U. 13 teams at 1-4 O/U. pic.twitter.com/gNtubayxon
Week 1 features six non-conference clashes:
• Bills at L.A. Rams (52 O/U)
• Jaguars at Washington (44)
• Browns at Panthers (43.5)
• N.Y. Giants at Titans (44)
• Chiefs at Cardinals (53)
• Broncos at Seahawks (41)
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