Getting down on the road favs: Buffalo Bills -2.5
It has proven a rare event for teams from opposing conferences to match up in NFL Thursday Night Football action. Since the 2003-04 season, 234 regular season contests have been decided on Thursdays. Just 43 (18%) of those games featured an AFC member facing opposition from the NFC. The 44th such instance will materialize in the 2022 NFL season opener on September 8, when the defending champion L.A. Rams host the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are slated as 2.5 point favorites, and we are laying the short chalk and siding with Buffalo for the cover.
Supporting our play, we note that TNF favorites playing outside their conference have delivered a 34% return on investment back to the 2003-04 season. Teams in this position amassed cover rates below 50% in only four of the last 19 completed seasons. [The observed profitability associated with this angle proved statistically significantly different than zero at better than the 95% confidence level, per a single proportion z-test, despite the limited, 42 game, dataset.]
Relatedly, the long-term historical ATS record is 15-5, for a 48% return, when the TNF favorite from the other conference was the road team. Notwithstanding the even smaller sample size for this subset of games, the 75% cover rate proved statistically significantly different than 52.4%, the cover rate required to break even, assuming the standard -110 vigorish.
Per the chart above, the Bills vs. Rams spread has swung wildly, briefly reaching Buffalo +1 in late-June, before reversing toward the present -2.5. Driving this line movement, the Bills have attracted the support of 65% of ATS wagers tracked by SportsInsights and 76% of dollars staked versus the number. That the majority of the action is behind Buffalo suggests the line is subject to favor the Bills even more. As such, inclined bettors might want to jump on the away team sooner than later, to secure a number below the key three threshold.