The 2022/23 NFL season begins this week when the Super Bowl LVI champions Los Angeles Rams take on the wannabe contenders Buffalo Bills in the opening game of the season.
After a fantastic season last year both sides, they’ve been paired up for an exciting curtain raiser and will go head-to-head to immediately hand a rival a poor result this time around.
We’ll take a look at both teams and break down their chances of success in this game, before providing our best free NFL picks for the game to see if we can earn you some extra cash for the weekend.
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Buffalo was on a rollercoaster throughout the early parts of last season, as the Bills posted a pretty average 7-6 record through the first 14 weeks of the season. However as the offensive lineup really gathered momentum and clicked, they closed the season with a 4-0 record to claim the AFC East title.
For most of the year, Buffalo rode the coattails of its defense as the Bills’ defense kept them afloat by ranking first in the league in both scoring and total yardage throughout last season (18.3 DPPG, 289 YPG).
However their offense turned things around down in the back-half and ended up finishing third in scoring and fifth in total yardage (29.8 OPPG, 389 YPG), which was nearly enough to get them into the Super Bowl.
Buffalo were simply brilliant in the postseason too, as Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense secured 41.5 OPPG on 452 YPG across both playoff games against the Patriots and the Chiefs.
However, the Bills campaign came to a shocking halt in the Divisional Round against Kansas City, as the Chiefs won the coin toss prior to overtime and cashed in for six on the ensuing drive.
After that heartbreaking end to the season, they’ll be hungry to step in against the reigning champions and show them they’re of the required level to be a real challenger this season.
The Rams won the NFC West with a record of 12-5 last season, and were crowned Super Bowl champions with an exhillarating win over the Cincinnati Bengals in this same stadium.
However, Los Angeles didn’t dominate throughout the year. The Rams’ offense finished the year ranked sixth in scoring and seventh in total yardage (27 OPPG, 373 YPG). Defensively they were even worse, as they ranked ninth in scoring and 13th in total yardage (21.3 DPPG, 333 YPG).
Their playoff run wasn’t particularly impressive either, beating all of the Buccaneers, Niners and Bengals but three points each with 24.3 OPPG and allowing 21.3 DPPG across those games.
Winning the chip with those numbers is pretty much inexplicable, but shows the team spirit they had to overcome adversity was a huge reason for their success rather than just their performances on the field.
When healthy, Los Angeles is the cream of the crop in the NFC. Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s elbow injury isn’t too concerning in the long-term, but in matchups against offensive powerhouses like Buffalo the Rams can’t afford to be significantly handicapped in that position.
That should give Buffalo big encouragement of being successful on Thursday.
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It’s hard to believe, but the Rams are +120 to win outright here in Week 1 and that simply cannot be overlooked.
The home team has won seven of the last nine NFL Kickoff games and the Bills have historically been slow starters under Sean McDermott when they aren’t facing opponents from their own division, never mind the reigning champions.
In the same breath, Sean McVay‘s teams have always started the season off hot as they’ve covered the spread in each of their last five games in Week 1. Taking the Rams on the money line is just too good value to pass on early in the season.
With good business in the off-season they’re no weaker than previously and despite Stafford’s injury they should still have enough defensively to see off Buffalo and claim an opening day victory. That’s our NFL pick for this week.
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