The 2022 NFL schedule has been released, and while we knew every team’s opponents all along, we now know when to schedule our day trips to see our favorite teams play.
Additionally, with the proliferation of sports betting, prices are becoming increasingly available in the early stages of the offseason. As such, it’s time to examine if there is any value in the Week 1 slate.
Buffalo Bills (spread +1) at Los Angeles Rams (total 52)
This should be a great matchup between two teams firmly “all in” for the 2022 season. After the Bills’ two disappointing losses to the Chiefs in the playoffs the past two seasons, the markets like Buffalo (+650) as the league’s favorites to win the Super Bowl. We at PFF also like them — making them a league-high 5.7 points better than the average team on a neutral field. The Rams are 4.0 points better, which seems to point to some value on the Bills as they try to make a run at their first Super Bowl title.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) at Washington Commanders (44.5)
For the second-straight year, Washington hosts an AFC team in Week 1. In their first game as the Commanders, quarterback Carson Wentz will have to exorcise the demons that came alive in his Week 18 meltdown, which is ultimately the reason he’s no longer the Indianapolis starting quarterback. We make Jacksonville 4.1 points worse than the average team on a neutral field, while Washington is 0.6 points worse.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+6) at Cincinnati Bengals (45)
The Bengals and the Steelers were both surprise playoff teams in 2021, and Cincinnati rode that variance all the way to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, where they lost (but covered +4) against the Rams. This year, the Steelers will start a quarterback other than Ben Roethlisberger on opening day for the first time since Big Ben was suspended at the beginning of the 2010 season — the last the team made the Super Bowl. PFF makes Cincinnati 1.9 points better than the average team on a neutral field, while Pittsburgh is 0.4 worse.
Baltimore Ravens (-4) at New York Jets (45.5)
The Ravens lost their last six games of the 2021 season, five of them by three points or less. Meanwhile, the Jets were one of the league’s worst teams last year but loaded up in the draft with Ahmad Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson II and Breece Hall. We make the Ravens 0.7 points better than the average team on a neutral field, while the Jets are 2.9 points worse.
New Orleans Saints (-3.5) at Atlanta Falcons (42)
The Saints, fresh off a year where Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston combined to go 9-3 as starting quarterbacks, play their first game without head coach Sean Payton since the 2012 season when he was suspended due to Bountygate. The last Falcons player to start at quarterback on opening day not named Matt Ryan was Joey Harrington in 2007. We make New Orleans 0.1 points worse than the average team on a neutral field, while the Falcons are 5.4 points worse.
Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) at Houston Texans (44.5)
Matt Ryan makes his Indianapolis debut in a building for which the Colts have had a lot of success — including the franchise’s last playoff win in January 2019. This is Year 2 of whatever the plan is in Houston, and we make the team 4.9 points worse than the average team on a neutral field, whereas we make the Colts 1.2 points better. While there might be value on the Texans here, tread lightly.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Detroit Lions (46.5)
The Eagles emerged as a playoff team a year early in 2021, overcoming a season win total of six to make the tournament as the NFC’s seventh seed. The 2022 Lions are also lined as a six-win team, and given how hard they played last season for Dan Campbell, they are sure to be a plucky side from the jump. We make the Eagles 0.4 points better than the average team on a neutral field and Detroit 3.1 points worse.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) at Chicago Bears (42.5)
The 49ers’ 2021 season turned around in a road win against the Bears, a rematch of the 1988 NFC Championship Game (Joe Montana’s only career road playoff win). In a matchup that will likely pit two of the five 2021 rookie quarterbacks against each other, we make the 49ers 2.8 points better than the average team on a neutral field, while the Bears are 5.3 points worse.
New England Patriots (+2.5) at Miami Dolphins (45)
The first teasable line of the 2022 season is a rematch of a series that the playoff-less Dolphins swept last year over the playoff-bound Patriots. We make both teams 0.4 points better than the average team on a neutral field, which makes the point spread essentially the home-field advantage assumption for the 2022 NFL season.
Las Vegas Raiders (+4) at Los Angeles Chargers (52)
This is a rematch of what was not only the last game of the 2021 NFL season but also the best game. The Raiders, fresh off their second playoff appearance since 2002, are currently the least likely team to win the AFC West, despite an offseason in which they acquired Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. Can Justin Herbert start the Chargers on the path to the playoffs for the first time in his career? We make the Chargers 1.5 points better than the average team on a neutral field, and the Raiders 0.2 points better.
Green Bay Packers (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings (49)
Early NFC North implications kick off the 2022 season in Minnesota, with both the Vikings and Packers looking to maintain the usual pecking order atop the division. Two years ago, this exact scenario took place as Green Bay covered the 1.5-point spread in an easy fashion, cruising to a 43-34 statement victory to start the season.
The 49-point opening total points toward another shootout potential, but both teams may have taken a step back offensively from their 2021 profiles. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have an ideal working environment and Kirk Cousins needs it to play at his best. Questions about what quarterback will show up for both these teams make the under the best approach in what could easily be a choppy start to the season.
New York Giants (+6.5) at Tennessee Titans (44)
Despite both teams seemingly heading in opposite directions in the futures markets, DraftKings makes the Giants a near-touchdown underdog in Tennessee. It’s hard to find a bettor willing to back the current state of the Titans, and the Giants are quickly becoming one of the most popular teams in the futures market. If you’re chasing closing line value, then backing the Giants looks like the only way to start the season.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Arizona Cardinals (53)
Setting up as the top target for fantasy enthusiasts, the Chiefs and Cardinals game opened at the highest total for Week 1. Kansas City would be a 3.5-point favorite over Arizona on a neutral field, but with one of the least rowdy crowds in the league, the Cardinals see little benefit from playing this game at home. The Chiefs have been much maligned in the futures market but still sit as a top-three team in PFF’s team rating systems. Expect the market to adjust expectations as the season nears, which will cause this number to drift out past three by kickoff. Now looks like the perfect time to lock in this bet, with plenty of closing line value on the other side of the wait.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) at Dallas Cowboys (51)
The plus-2.5 spread sets up a perfect teaser opportunity for Week 1 with Dallas as a home underdog. The total isn’t ideal from a teaser perspective, but this still seems likely to finish within a touchdown differential. Dallas is closer to a 3.5-point underdog based on PFF’s power rankings (assuming a scant home-field advantage), which compares teams on a neutral field. Home-field advantage matters some in Dallas, but this still holds as a better teaser leg than a straight-up play on the Cowboys.
Denver Broncos (-4) at Seattle Seahawks (41)
Russell Wilson’s revenge game opened shorter than most expected, with a defensive struggle anticipated in the lowest total for Week 1. Pete Carroll may have finally landed the running back he needs to put his team over the top, but that doesn’t make up for almost a touchdown discrepancy based on PFF’s power rankings. The only way this game should be Denver minus-4 is if home-field advantage is worth three points in Seattle. That seems a bit heavy, even for kickoff night highlighted by Russell Wilson’s return. This could be Seattle’s Super Bowl for 2022, with key numbers lingering lower.
- Buffalo Bills +1 at Los Angeles Rams
- Baltimore Ravens (-4) at New York Jets
- New England Patriots (+8.5) at Miami Dolphins teased with Dallas Cowboys (+8.5) versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Detroit Lions (+4) versus Philadelphia Eagles
- Green Bay Packers (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings
- Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Arizona Cardinals
- Denver Broncos (-4) at Seattle Seahawks