The Buffalo Bills are coming off a 13-win season and a trip to the AFC Championship while the Detroit Lions are working in yet another head coach. This game looks like a mismatch, but as we know the rules don’t apply during the preseason. And with the Bills positioned as a favorite in the AFC a number of starters won’t take the field, including Josh Allen. The team already announced the quarterback will not play. As a result the Lions are positioned as slight 1-point favorite on the NFL betting line in the team coaching debut of Dan Campbell.
The Week 1 NFL preseason game between the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions will take place at Ford Field in Detroit at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, August 13, and will be televised on NFL Network.
Buffalo Bills vs Detroit Lions Spread
Buffalo Bills +1 | Detroit Lions -1 [BET NOW]
Buffalo Bills vs Detroit Lions Money Line Odds
Buffalo Bills +107 | Detroit Lions -127 [BET NOW]
Buffalo Bills vs Detroit Lions Over/Under Odds
Over/Under: 37 [BET NOW]
Under regular season circumstances the spread and total would be much different. It’s just another sign that preseason games are meaningless, except to those wagering on them. With both coaches leaking information on their plans for the exhibition opener, another oddity occurred. We saw the line jump the fence in favor of the Lions, who hit the board as a 1-point dog and are now the favorite. Campbell said his starters would play “about a quarter” while the Bills will sit most of their regulars. The total sits at 37, which is typical of a preseason contest.
Adding former Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky to the roster puts the Bills in a unique situation. They now have an experienced backup QB with an overall winning record as a starter and who’s been good at times. With Allen not playing on Friday Trubisky will get a bulk of the reps as he acclimates to a new team and system. And although his role is new it is an important one considering the rash of injuries suffered at the position over the last few years.
With most of their starters returning the Bills are set. The key is to escape the preseason injury-free so don’t expect to see many front-line players on the field. There will be some fierce battles for roster spots on defense. With cuts coming next week this is the only opportunity for players to show off in a game setting. Defense was an area of concern last season, but the offense was so good it masked deficiencies.
For the Bills the preseason is more about finding ways to improve the pass rush and running game, two areas that held them back last year. If they find a solution and everything else goes according to plan they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And Sean McDermott doesn’t want to do anything to mess that up.
Finding a team’s motivation in the preseason goes a long way to making a few bucks on your wagers. For the Lions it’s about finding the right pieces to at least make them competitive. They certainly aren’t a Super Bowl contender at this point making Campbell’s job more about evaluating talent. He said earlier in the week that his starters will play about a quarter, more out of necessity than anything else since there are a bunch of newcomers.
After 12 years with Matthew Stafford running the show the club changed direction. In a swap of former No. 1 overall draft picks the team will turn to Jared Goff behind center. I’m not really sure this is an upgrade since Goff had more trouble holding onto the football than anyone last season. But it’s a chance for Goff to resurrect his career after the Rams lost faith in him.
With only three preseason games instead of the old standard of four, the Lions likely need more time working starters and key reserves into the system. The good news is that they have a clean slate with a new coach and a number of newcomers. Unfortunately their starters might not be as good as Buffalo’s backups.
Bills vs Lions Prediction
Our picks: Detroit Lions -1 and OVER 37
With Campbell expressing a desire to play his starters the Lions should have an edge, at least early on. And with several players looking to make their mark they should come out with intensity, a trait instilled by their coach. I actually think the Lions are being underestimated this season. Goff is younger than his predecessor and he had some good seasons in LA. He can play and the change of scenery will help him. Last season it looked like he put too much pressure on himself and he crumbled. The Lions will have their starters on the field and Trubisky is an experienced backup for the Bills making the OVER the best play in this game.
View the latest NFL Week 1 odds.