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Rare underdog spot for Rams offers value for betters of defending Super Bowl champs vs. Bills

The Bills may be favored to win it all, but the defending champion Rams are in a rare value spot as home underdogs.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Los Angles Rams and head coach Sean McVay during the Super Bowl celebration at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Los Angles Rams and head coach Sean McVay during the Super Bowl celebration at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Read moreAndy Lyons / Getty Images

The wait is over. The NFL is back. And what a way to start off the season with Thursday’s epic matchup between two of the best teams in the league.

The Bills enter the 2022 season as the clear Super Bowl favorites after two stellar campaigns that ended in postseason disappointment. Their first test? A road trip to face the defending champion Rams, who are dealing as home underdogs for just the third time in the last five seasons. How’s that for a season opener?

Here’s how we’re betting Thursday’s contest, which kicks off at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Rams vs. Bills Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Bills -2.5 (-110), moneyline -135

  2. Rams +2.5 (-10), moneyline +110

  3. O/U 52 (-110)

Rams vs. Bills Prediction: The Analysis

It’s easy to talk yourself into the Bills as short road favorites here, especially with Buffalo dealing as the title favorite and Josh Allen pacing the MVP oddsboard. But let’s not act like this line isn’t a little disrespectful to the defending Super Bowl champions — and dismissive of the issues still facing this Buffalo squad.

Start with the Rams, who won nine of their last 10 games amid their title run with that lone loss coming in overtime of a game they held a 17-3 halftime lead. How’s that for a dominant stretch? Here’s the scary part: this team could be even better than it was a year ago.

Matthew Stafford enters his second year at the helm of this Los Angeles offense, which adds former Pro Bowl wideout Allen Robinson and returns a healthy Cam Akers to a group that averaged 27.1 points in 2021. On defense, the Rams lost Von Miller but scooped up former All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner to strengthen what was the weakest unit on the team.

They also brought back cornerback Troy Hill, who was quietly one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks in 2020 before a down year with the Browns. He could be an X-factor against this spread-heavy Bills offense, which enters its first year with new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. That’s a huge change — Brian Daboll was one of the best coordinators in football; Dorsey has never been a coordinator at any level.

That’s just one challenge facing these Bills, who faced the easiest schedule in the NFL last year and were also the most volatile team week-to-week, per Football Outsiders. Yes, this is the same team that nearly beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium in that epic playoff loss. It’s also the same team that lost to the Jaguars as 15.5-point road favorites in one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.

That should give bettors pause before laying the points on the road. Historically, that’s been a bad call in this spot: road teams in Week 1 Thursday opener are 6-12-3 against the spread (33.3%) since 2000, while defending champs are 10-5-2 ATS (66.6%) in weekday primetime openers since 2004.

» READ MORE: A look at Eagles player props and odds as Week 1 looms

This is a rare underdog spot for the Rams, who have been home ‘dogs just four previous times in the Sean McVay era and are only the sixth Super Bowl champion to open the next year as an underdog. The previous five went 4-1 ATS and straight up, and Los Angeles is in a strong spot to continue that run here.

Rams vs. Bills Pick

Rams +2.5 (-110 BetMGM)

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.