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Week 1 NFL lines offer intrigue, starting in LA

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass during a joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, at the Paycor Stadium practice fields in Cincinnati.Los Angeles Rams At Cincinnati Bengals Joint Practice Aug 24 0047
Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Are there any more anticipated sporting events than Week 1 of the NFL season? It doesn’t even seem worthy of debate.

One week from the Thursday night opener between the Rams and Bills, fans have had months to assess, question and reassess where they rate teams on the value board.

So, let’s take a look at what matters to those headed to the sportsbook window — or browser — before Week 1 of the 2022 regular season.

–Buffalo Bills -2.5 at Los Angeles Rams (O/U 52.5), Thursday
The Rams must be cringing at that number, coming off a Super Bowl victory and being an underdog at home to the team picked by a legion of prognosticators as this season’s likely champion.
The looming question is the health of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford’s throwing arm, but just as critical are the losses L.A. had on the offensive line, most notably left tackle Andrew Whitworth. This is a great spot for the Bills to prove their supporters correct in what should be a high-scoring game.

–Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers -3.5 (O/U 52)
How prescient.

The Raiders earned a playoff spot in Week 18 of 2021 by defeating the Chargers in the final game of the season. Now, they play in the Chargers’ “home,” three days after the Rams christened SoFi Stadium for 2022. The AFC West will be a gauntlet and the Chargers have designs on riding quarterback Justin Herbert’s explosive arm. On the other side will be the first game featuring the college connection of quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Davante Adams. Fireworks should fill the sky.

–Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers -2 (O/U 41.5)
Very few cared about this game until the Panthers acquired quarterback Baker Mayfield in a trade from the Browns.

In the opener, Mayfield faces his former team and Jacoby Brissett, thanks to the Deshaun Watson 11-game suspension.

Mayfield might have too much adrenaline, but a healthy Christian McCaffrey should help keep him calm. With Watson, the Browns might be close to a touchdown favorite, but they don’t have him. The defenses on both sides are good and the Browns sure know Mayfield. A field goal should decide it.

–Denver Broncos -6 at Seattle Seahawks (O/U 41.5)
There’s a lot new in this 2022 Monday night debut.

Bolstered by a new contract former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is with the Broncos and will be playing in front of those rabid Seattle fans that helped him so much over the years. The former Fox crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be in the booth likely extolling the virtues of Wilson.

Wilson won’t be smiling listening to the raucous crowd now trying to make his life miserable. On paper, the line appears right, especially with Geno Smith under center for the home team. But games aren’t played on paper, and something tells me this one will be closer than many think.

–Field Level Media