The National Football League is hosting a Monday Night Football doubleheader … or perhaps more accurately stated, a double-quarter. Because not long after the Titans and Bills kick off in Buffalo, the Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings. The first game starts at 4:15 Pacific Time, the second one kicks off at 5:30.
The Buffalo Bills overcame a situation and betting pattern last week to upend the defending Super Bowl Champions on their home field. By virtue of their Super Bowl LVI triumph, the Los Angeles Rams were awarded home field for the opening Thursday night game. This was the 17th time a defending champion had opened the season on a Thursday night and in the previous 16 games the defending champ had won 14 times.
The Rams were the third team to lose while opening defense of their title on Thursday night, and their beatdown was administered by a rather good Buffalo Bills squad. The Bills not only beat the Rams decisively, 31-10, but they did it while the public was betting on them and their road favorite role was rising on the point spread.
Until further notice, the Buffalo Bills are not a team to buck.
But it doesn’t mean we should blindly follow this potential juggernaut while they appear in the best form of the 32 teams that comprise the NFL.
We have some compelling motivational factors that seem to throw into question that counting on the Bills to get a second straight double-digit win is wise. With the Tennessee Titans tonight, we get a team coming off not only a loss in their season opener, but a disappointing defeat while the top seed in the AFC playoffs last year and losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in their only postseason appearance.
Those two losses carry with them the capacity to motivate the Titans in their next outing. Like tonight, where they know they are in for an uphill battle and have to play great just to avoid getting blown out. That is the stuff that generates motivated play, and tonight those elements go up against the talent of the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills talent is good enough to win and beat the spread, but the weight against them with their opponents fear of failure throws caution on that proposition. I like my double-digit favorites coming off losses, like the Packers last night, when I know they are more likely to be motivated. The Bills are coming off a huge win, they might not have a boost following their victory in Los Angeles.
Then there is the fact test, the Titans know clearly the uphill battle they are in tonight and that is great motivation when the possibility of an outright win is hard to even imagine.
That is the eye of the storm, looking into the abyss following losses with little hope of a reprieve against a powerful opponent on their home field.
I almost always take the motivation in this situation, but have too much respect for the Bills right now to even go against them while the Titans come to town so poised for success.
Neither game tonight offers a clear wagering edge.
In the second contest, the Vikings have eyes on moving up to the elite teams in the league, and their handling of the Green Bay Packers last week offers a first claim in that direction. A win in Philadelphia on the road in primetime would vault the Vikings into the conversation of Super Bowl contenders.
Their opponent tonight, the Philadelphia Eagles, were in the playoffs last year and opened their season with a win in Detroit. Still, and I’m in a shrinking minority with this thinking, I don’t consider the Eagles above the middle of the league. That thinking alone has me not wanting to lay points with a team I’m not sure is a 2-0 organization when up against a potential elite squad
The NFL has served up four teams that represented their conferences in the playoffs last year in this double-bill of action. I think the Bills versus the Titans is a very interesting matchup, and the Vikings at Eagles equally appealing, but neither game offers what I like the best; a clear wagering edge.