The first game of the 2022 NFL season is in the bag after the Buffalo Bills met the LA Rams at SoFi Stadium on Thursday night. The game didn’t go the way some fans and bettors had hoped. But it definitely got their emotions running.
The excitement was real for the Rams as they kicked off the 2022 NFL campaign, ready to defend their Super Bowl LVI title. Things didn’t go their way, however, and the powerful Rams offense hit a wall against a dominant Buffalo defense, as the Bills won, 31-10.
The Rams couldn’t get cranking, needing almost two quarters to put their first points on the board. After the game, LA’s Jalen Ramsey said it best: “They beat us up,” the cornerback muttered in defeat.
Nowhere to Run
In a game full of turnovers and picks, almost none of which resulted in quick scores, sacks were the key to success. The Bills recruited former Rams linebacker Von Miller to join their squad, and he proved his worth. The league’s sack leader punished Rams QB Matt Stafford, getting two of the Bills’ seven sacks on the night.
Thanks to the Bills’ defense, Stafford completed just 29 of 41 passes for 241 yards on the night. He managed one touchdown and threw three interceptions in a game that had the reigning Super Bowl champs pick up -43 yards across the first three quarters.
Running back Cam Akers had just three carries for zero yards, as the Bills defense proved to be too powerful. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp did what he could, pulling down 13 passes for 128 yards and scoring the Rams’ only touchdown of the night.
After a solid first half, the Bills returned in the third quarter intent on inflicting more damage.
Allen Proves Slippery
Buffalo, which now has a 9-5 all-time record against the Rams, continued its solid performance thanks to QB Josh Allen. He ended the night completing 26 of 31 passes for 297 yards, while rushing for another 56 yards.
Allen was mostly consistent on the night, setting up the offense for three aerial TDs and one ground score. Capping off a stellar opening game, the QB walked into the end zone for the rushing TD.
The Rams’ defense tried to stop him on several occasions, but couldn’t find their mojo. They only managed two INTs and two sacks.
Next up, the Bills face the Tennessee Titans, and the Rams meet the Atlanta Falcons.
Bettors Left Out
The Bills were the favorites to win at all sportsbooks. The Las Vegas Review-Journal spoke with Chris Andrews, the sportsbook director at South Point, who saw mixed results.
While much of the early money was on the Bills, the Rams started picking up more action as game time approached. By the first kickoff, Buffalo was in command of the money. BetMGM, Red Rock, and others also reported high percentages of wagers and handle on the Bills.
The books expected a closer game, putting the spread at around -1.5 for the Bills. However, the blowout disappointed a lot of bettors. Based on stats published by Action Network, most bettors expected the Rams to cover.
The over/under for the game was around 53 or so when the starting whistle blew. 62% of the betting slips at Station Casinos backed the over and missed.
Some bettors made out like bandits, though. DraftKings had to pay out one bettor who made a lucky live bet during the game. He put up $200 on the Bills to lose the ball on their second drive, which they did. At +600, the bettor earned $1,400.
The betting numbers are still rolling in and the final results will take some time. However, if GeoComply data is any indication, betting volumes are breaking records.
Judging the sports betting traffic on geolocation data, there was a 77% year-on-year increase in betting volume for the first game of the season. The total was 22.6 million, much higher than the 12.7 million from last year.
New Jersey and New York traffic was significantly higher. In New Jersey, the inaugural game of the season saw 460K hits last year, according to GeoComply’s data. This year, there were three million. In the Empire State, with its first run on a full season, there were 3.7 million.
It might be time to consider backing the Bills to win the Super Bowl.
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