Bills vs. Rams Odds, Picks & Predictions: Back Defending Champs in NFL Kickoff Game
In what is a joyous occasion around the world, football is back! NFL opening night features the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams at home, facing off against the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl this year in the Buffalo Bills.
As this is the first game of the season, it is being played on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 8:20 p.m. ET
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Bills vs. Rams Week 1 Betting Odds
|Date & Time||Thu, Sept. 8, 8:20 p.m. ET|
Will Bills Show Why They’re Super Bowl Favorites?
Despite being the home team and the defending Super Bowl champ, the Rams find themselves underdogs in this opening night matchup. With that said, one can understand the logic of the Bill being favored here.
Top to bottom, the Bills are universally regarded as having the best roster in football. They had a defense that finished first in DVOA last year and upgraded that defense in the offseason by signing defensive end Von Miller.
They have a secondary that is rated sixth-best in the NFL, according to PFF. This secondary is headlined by two of the NFL’s top-10 safeties in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, plus All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White.
If there is one issue the Bills might run into defensively, though, it is at that cornerback spot to begin the season. White is still recovering from a torn ACL toward the end of the 2021 season, so the Bills will be forced to start rookie CB Kaiir Elam.
Elam was drafted in the first round of the 2022 draft so he has talent and upside, but he has yet to play a snap professionally. Growing pains should be expected, as cornerback is one of the hardest positions to play as a rookie.
The guess here is that the Bills once again finish with a top-five defense in the NFL, but start the season slow as Elam gets acclimated to the NFL before White returns from his knee injury.
Luckily for the Bills, they couple that elite defense with an elite offense led by quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. After two inconsistent years to start his career, Allen has taken the leap and been one of the NFL’s elite QBs the past two seasons.
He finished the 2020 season as the fifth-best quarterback in the NFL, and finished last year as the third-best, according to PFF.
Allen especially turned it up a notch in the playoffs, when he combined for 9 touchdowns with no interceptions in only two games last year. If it wasn’t for the gut-wrenching loss to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, the Bills could have held the Lombardi Trophy last year instead of the Rams.
If there is any cause for concern for the Bills offensively, there are two things we can point to.
First, they might struggle along the offensive line. PFF currently ranks them as the 20th offensive line in the NFL, granted with room for improvement. We’ve seen countless times a poor offensive line hold back an elite offense, so that is something to monitor as the season goes along.
The next cause for concern is regarding the change at offensive coordinator. Brian Daboll had been the Bills OC for the past three seasons, but he left in the offseason to be the head coach for the Giants. He was replaced by Ken Dorsey, who has been the Bills quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons and also spent the 2021 season as the passing-game coordinator.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott is a defensive-minded coach, so he let Daboll be the architect of the offense. Replacing what we can essentially consider the head coach of the offense is no easy task.
To Dorsey’s credit, he has been on record saying that nothing system-wise is changing with the Bills offense. He is keeping everything the same as it was under Daboll. So, there are certainly arguments to be made that the offense shouldn’t take a step back, but it is still an unknown. The public never really knows just how valuable offensive and defensive coordinators can be until they need to be replaced.
But, with all this said, the Bills have the highest win total over/under and are Super Bowl favorites for a reason. This is an elite team that has talent up and down the roster, and familiarity with each other as this is McDermott and Allen’s fifth year together.
For Week 1, though, they have a stiff test going up against the defending champs.
Can Rams Run it Back in 2022?
The Rams did not lose a ton from their Super Bowl team last year, while also making some notable additions. They lost receivers Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr., but gained free agent WR Allen Robinson from the Bears. Defensively, they added middle linebacker Bobby Wagner from the Seahawks.
The Rams ended last year as the fifth-best team in the NFL, according to DVOA, and won the Super Bowl of course, but there is an argument to be made that they could be even better in 2022 with these additions.
We are also in Year 2 of the Sean McVay and QB Matthew Stafford partnership, which had some growing pains last year, most notably from Week 9 until the end of the regular season.
This stretch included a three-game losing streak from Weeks 9-12 (they had a bye in Week 11), and Stafford had a stretch where he threw an interception in seven of nine games. He threw multiple interceptions five times during this span as well.
Stafford mostly cleaned things up in the playoffs, though, throwing for 9 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions. Although, he gifted the 49ers a pick in the NFC Championship Game that was dropped by a 49ers safety, which probably saved the game for the Rams.
He also threw 41 touchdowns on the year as a whole, so it wasn’t as if it was all bad for Stafford. Regardless, heading into his second year with the Rams, it is unlikely that he improves upon that touchdown total, but he shouldn’t throw 17 interceptions either.
WR Cooper Kupp also deserves a shoutout, having a historical season last year. He finished the season with 145 receptions for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. All three of those stats led the NFL, making him the first receiver to get the triple crown since Steve Smith did so in 2005.
Defensively, the Rams are led by All-Pros Aaron Donald at defensive tackle and Jalen Ramsey at cornerback. The Rams are one of the more top-heavy teams in the NFL, so one injury to either of these players would most likely derail their season. But if they can stay healthy, the Rams should figure to once again have a top-five defense in the NFL.
So, all-in-all this is a tough game to predict, but I lean toward backing the Rams at home — playing in SoFi Stadium where they won Super Bowl LVI not long ago.
Here is a fun fact: the Rams have yet to lose in Week 1 of the Sean McVay era.
|Year||Week 1 Matchup||Result|
|2017||Colts vs. Rams||W 46-9|
|2018||Rams vs. Raiders||W 33-13|
|2019||Ram vs. Panthers||W 30-27|
|2020||Cowboys vs. Rams||W 20-17|
|2021||Bears vs. Rams||W 34-14|
They are 5-0, with some victories in there more impressive than others. Regardless, McVay is known for getting his squad ready to begin the season.
While I have zero doubts that the Bills finish the year as one of the best teams in the NFL, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start the season slowly. The guess here is that they are going struggle in the secondary until White comes back, and they could start slow offensively as well with Dorsey getting his coaching feet under him.
The Bills, unlike the Rams, are not a fast starting team in Week 1. In Allen’s career, the Bills are 2-2 in Week 1 specifically, including an ugly loss last year to the Steelers.
Here is another fun fact: defending Super Bowl champs are 18-3 straight up in Week 1 in the last 21 seasons.
So, taking everything into account, I like the Rams to upset the Bills to start the NFL season.
Bills vs. Rams Betting Pick: Rams Moneyline | +125 at FoxBet
I found the best odds for this moneyline bet using OddsJam’s NFL odds comparison tool. Be sure to use it to shop for the best line before locking in your bet. Finding the best line for your bets is easy with OddsJam – click here to join today!
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