(9/7/22) 8:20 PM Eastern.
Spread: Bills -2.5 / Rams +2.5
Moneyline: Bills -135 / Rams +115
Total: Over / Under 52
The 2022 NFL regular season opens with the Buffalo Bills making a trip across the country to take on the Los Angeles Rams. Expectations are high for both clubs coming into the season, the Bills are the current favorites to win the Superbowl while the Rams look to defend their crown. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20p.m. eastern time at SoFi Stadium.
This Bills team is poised to be among the league’s elite offenses once again. Josh Allen just continues to get better year after year and he’s got more weapons to work with in 2022. Stefon Diggs is going to do his thing as the #1, but 3rd year receiver Gabriel Davis is poised for a breakout season. He slides in at WR2 with the departure of Emmanuel Sanders. Davis has flashed brilliance before, against KC in the playoffs last year he snagged 8 balls for 201 yards and an NFL record 4 touchdowns. At slot receiver Allen’s now throwing to Isaiah Mckenzie, a career return man that the coaching staff can’t get enough off. He actually beat out veteran Jamison Crowder for the job. With Josh Allen throwing over 25% of his passes to slot receivers the last 3 years, Mckenzie will be a YAC machine for Buffalo. They also drafted James Cook out of Georgia, a gadget RB that excels in the passing game. He’ll also help bolster a rushing attack that ranked 6th in yards per game last year.
The Bills also had the #1 defense in all of football last year. They ranked first in yards allowed per game (273) and first in points allowed per game (14.9). Despite being the #1 ranked defense they didn’t have a single player reach 8 sacks. In comes Von Miller. He signed a massive 6-year $120 Million deal in Free Agency to take this front 7 over the top. They’re also waiting on young talent like Ed Oliver and Greg Rousseau to reach their full potential, guys they spent first round picks on. Unfortunately for Buffalo, lockdown CB Tre’Davious White will miss this game. He’s on the PUP list recovering from an injury. The Bills did draft rookie CB Kaiir Elam out of Florida in the first round and he’s expected to start. On paper this defense looks better than it did a year ago.
Los Angeles Rams
Elite QB play from Matthew Stafford got McVay and the Rams over the hump and turned them into World Champions. Despite losing starting WR Robert Woods for the season the Rams had the 5th most passing yards in 2021. Stafford and Cooper Kupp combined for a historic season. Kupp racked up 145 catches and 1,947 yards last season, both ranked 2nd in NFL history. Heading into this season they actually traded Robert Woods to the Titans but added All-Pro WR Allen Robinson via Free Agency. Robinson is well known for his production with terrible QB’s. He battled injuries last season but comes in fully healthy this year. The ground game is under the spotlight for McVay. They ranked 25th in rushing yards per game last season and a lot of that had to do with injuries. Starting RB Cam Akers went down early in the year with an Achilles injury and back-up Darrel Henderson also battled injuries throughout the season. They’re both healthy coming into this season and McVay’s openly stated he’s looking for more balance from his offense in 2022.
Aaron Donald and Co set out to terrorize opposing offenses once again. Like Buffalo they were one of the top defenses in football last year. They surrendered a 6th best 5.2 yards per play and 4th best 3.9 yards per carry in 2021. They also racked up 50 sacks throughout the season (3rd) and gave up just 17 passing touchdowns (2nd). They retain most of their players on defense but did lose Von Miller to the Bills. He played just 8 games for the Rams during the regular season and accounted for just 5 of those 50 sacks. They did add future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner via free agency, while he’s not the same freak from his early playing days he still makes this defense even better.
Take the Under 52. While these are set to be two of the most prolific offenses in football, they also feature two of the best defenses. Unlike the defenses though, the offenses have quite a bit of change to deal with. To start they both feature new offensive coordinators this year. While McVay has always called plays for LA he’s never placed more trust and influence in his offense than he did with former OC O’Connell last year (McVay’s words). And new Bills OC and play-caller Ken Dorsey has never called plays in his career. There’s also new WR’s in town, 2 of the 3 starting WR’s for both teams are new faces and both of these offensive lines had some reshuffling to do. The Rams had to replace a potential Hall of Fame LT in Andrew Whitworth while Buffalo is looking at 2 fresh faces in the guard spot. You can expect plenty of handoffs from both teams to help neutralize these elite pass rushes. The Bills were 6th in rushing yards per game last year and James Cook adds even more talent to that room while the Rams get starting RB Cam Akers back and healthy with McVay placing an emphasis on balance this season. Both top defenses from 2021 bring most of their talent back and their defensive coordinators also remain the same from a season ago. The continuity provides the defense with the advantage in this game while the new look offenses are ironing out some kinks. The under has also hit in 20 of the Rams last 27 home games and 20 of the Bills last 28 games played on turf.