The wait is over for NFL fans worldwide. The regular season starts today with the opening game between the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Last season, the Rams took Super Bowl LVI after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23 -20. It was their second title, but this campaign is expected to be even closer.
Several teams are favored to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this year. However, there’s a lot of football between now and February 12, 2023.
Rams Look for Repeat
For their part, the Rams come into tonight’s game with a 1-2 preseason record. However, taking into account that they kept several of their starters on the bench, it’s not surprising.
The Rams will begin their seventh run on the title since returning to LA, but this will be the first in which they start as reigning NFL champions. They’re counting on veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, who completed his first season at LA as the third-best in passing yards, with 4,886, second in touchdown passes (41) and sixth in passer rating (102.9).
The Bills arrive in Week 1 with a 2-1 preseason record. They took their first two before suffering an embarrassing 21-0 shutout at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. They made the playoffs last season before the Kansas City Chiefs stopped their run. Undoubtedly, they’ll be looking for revenge this season.
Josh Allen will start under center for the Bills, ready to overcome some of the difficulties from last season. He has even hired a private QB coach to help him improve.
Buffalo had six losses last season, of which five games were decided by a TD or less. Allen wants to do whatever he can to prevent this from happening again.
He’s going to get some help. His go-to tight end, Dawson Knox, just signed a four-year, $53.6-million extension. In addition, the Bills now have Von Miller on defense. The leading pass-rusher moves on from the Rams, where he was vital in helping the team go all the way to the Super Bowl.
Bills For the Win, and the Super Bowl?
The Rams opened as a half-point favorite over the Bills. However, that didn’t last long. Different sportsbooks all put the Bills on top with a hefty cushion. Backing the Bills to win the opener, with Allen improving and Miller breaking up plays, is a strategic win.
DraftKings and Caesars both have the Bills’ moneyline at -135, while the Rams are getting +115. This is consistent with virtually all major sportsbooks, although FanDuel is a little leaner. It has the Bills at -134 and the Rams at +114.
Books also expect to see a high-scoring game today. Almost across the board, the Over/Under is 52. However, bettors might want to take the Under. The opening game brings in new players for the first time and, since 2000, the Under has hit 52.6% of the time in Week 1.
It’s not too early to start thinking about who to back as the season’s Super Bowl champs, either. Currently, the Bills are getting most of the support.
Caesars has them leading at +600 for the title. If they win tonight as favorites, this will improve their odds. Since the start of the Super Bowl era, 80% of the teams that won their opener won the season.
Sports Betting is Big Business
The NFL has always been popular with sports bettors, even before the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018. However, it has gained significant ground since then. There are now 36 states that offer some type of legal sports betting.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) predicts that around 47 million Americans will wager on NFL games this season. This is a 3% uptick over last year’s results. Online sportsbooks will take half, an increase of 20%.
It’s not just the US, either. Mexico is the NFL’s second-largest market in terms of popularity. That’s why the league sends teams there every season to play games. This year, there will be one in the country, as well as three in the UK and, for the first time, one in Germany, according to the league’s schedule.
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