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Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams Preview

Week 1 Preview

Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams

The regular season is upon us, and the NFL has once again scheduled it to start with a bang! This might be one of the most anticipated season openers in years when the Buffalo Bills meet the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, September 8th, in Inglewood, California.

What can we expect from each team? Who will win this titanic opening night battle? I am here to break it all down for you. Enjoy!

Buffalo Bills

What we will be looking for

There are a few burning questions on each side of the ball that Bills fans will be eager to have answered.

Offensively, can the 2022 version of the offensive line hold Aaron Donald in check long enough for Josh Allen to find receivers open downfield? Can the offense pick up where it left off last season? How will the Bills’ offense look when they step onto the field? What do rookies Khalil Shakir and James Cook bring to the table for Buffalo?

On defense, can the secondary smother Cooper Kupp and the other weapons surrounding Matthew Stafford sans Tre’Davious White? Can Von Miller and the Buffalo Bills’ defensive front get pressure on the Rams’ gutsy gunslinger?

Buffalo Bills Offensive Line

LT – Dion Dawkins, Tommy Doyle

LG – Rodger Saffold, Bobby Hart

C – Mitch Morse, Greg Van Roten

RG – Ryan Bates, Greg Van Roten

RT – Spencer Brown, David Quessenberry

It’s no secret that the heart of the Bills’ offense is rooted in the playmaking ability of their QB Josh Allen. Allen needs time to read the field and allow his receivers to get open to recreate all those highlight-reel throws we saw last season. The difference between Buffalo’s offense and many other systems is that Josh does not solely rely on structured, exact timing play calls; instead, he counts on his pass catchers to read the defense and simply get open. For him to accomplish this, his offensive line must keep opposing pass rushers at bay.

Brandon Beane brought in some very experienced veterans like Rodger Saffold and David Quessenberry, as well as one of the most respected offensive lines coaches in the business, Aaron Kromer

Saffold and Quessenberry bring athleticism and experience to an already above-average offensive line. Coach Kromer will assuredly double- and even triple-team #99 for the Rams and still be able to trust the rest of the line to do their jobs.

Buffalo Bills Offense

QB – Josh Allen, Case Keenum

WR – Stefon Diggs, Khalil Shakir

WR – Gabe Davis, Jake Kumerow

Slot WR – Isaiah Mckenzie, Jamison Crowder

RB – Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, James Cook, Taiwan Jones

TE – Dawson Knox, Quintin Morris

Most of the Bills’ receiving core has returned this season. Diggs, Davis, and McKenzie have all made the 53-man roster and should play pivotal roles on offense this season. As far as new additions go, Jamison Crowder is a familiar face to all Bills fans, but not in a Bills uniform. However, the two biggest additions this season came from the draft. Khalil Shakir and James Cook.

Khalil Shakir

The Bills upgraded both their receiving core as well as the backfield in the NFL draft this off-season. The 6′ 196-pound rookie made the final 53-man roster. The most likely scenario, and one that is backed up by the Bills’ current depth chart, is that Shakir sees the majority of his playing time as the punt returner.

James Cook

Buffalo drafted James Cook to fill a specific role on the offense that they had been sorely lacking: a legitimate pass-catching back.

Historically, Buffalo dresses a total of three running backs on gameday. James Cook is listed on the depth chart behind Devin Singletary and Zack Moss but ahead of Taiwan Jones. This is interesting because Taiwan Jones is an every-game starter on special teams. If the Bills continue to dress three backs, I do not see how they exclude the rookie from week one action.

Depth Charts are fluid, COACHES LIE, and the best players will dress on gameday. Look for Singletary, Cook, and Taiwan Jones to be the ones running out of the tunnel on Thursday night.

Starting Defense

LDE – Greg Rousseau

DT – Ed Oliver

DT – Daquan Jones

RDE – Von Miller

SLB – Matt Milano

MLB – Tremaine Edmunds

WLB – Terrel Bernard

NCB – Taron Johnson

CB – Kaiir Elam, Dane Jackson

S – Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde

Defensive Backfield

The Bills placed All-Pro Corner Back Tre’davious White on IR Tuesday morning, eliminating him from game action until at least Week 5. Head Coach Sean McDermott has stated in numerous press conferences that the team has no plans to rush him back. Barring any setbacks, the most likely scenario for his return would be Week eight at home vs. Green Bay.

So who replaces him as the CB1 vs the Rams? The answer is nobody in particular, rather a combination of defensive backfielders depending on the situation.

As for Kaiir Elam, I do not expect the rookie to be matched up one-on-one with Kupp at any point in the game without the two Pro Bowl safeties, Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, providing a lot of help.

Von Miller

Yes, Von Miller is a Buffalo Bill! I still have to pinch myself sometimes, even after watching him throughout the off-season in blue and white. Miller is unquestionably one of the most prolific pass rushers in the modern era of the NFL. He also happens to come from the Super Bowl champion LA Rams.

What does he bring to Buffalo?

Von provides the Buffalo Bills with the one key component that they were so desperately missing last season: legitimate pass-rushing ability. Last year the Bills were 11th in total sacks with 42. Of those 42, almost a quarter of them came from non-defensive linemen.

Look for Miller to provide constant pressure in the face of Matthew Stafford and disrupt the offense’s timing.

Los Angeles Rams

What we are looking for

Los Angeles is coming into this season on a high and has every reason to believe that they will start the year 1-0. What are LA fans pining to see on Thursday night?

Can Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp exploit Buffalo’s new secondary without Tre’ White and make this a high-scoring game? How effective is Cam Akers this year? Has he fully recovered and is he ready to be a dominant force up the middle? What does Allen Robinson bring to the Rams’ offense? Finally, but easily the most obvious question, is how much pressure can Aaron Donald get on Josh Allen? Can he bring down the Bills’ superstar QB and disrupt the offense?

Offensive Firepower

QB – Matthew Stafford

WR – Cooper Kupp, Brandon Powell

WR – Allen Robinson, Tutu Atwell

RB – Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Kyren Wiliams

TE – Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins

LA Rams, Superbowl champions. How long have Rams fans been waiting to hear that sentence? It is abundantly clear that the missing piece to this offense prior to last season was under center. Matthew Stafford is a QB with a big-time arm and a tamed-down version of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s gunslinger mentality. Stafford has a full year under his belt in McVay’s system and, oh yeah, has the best WR in football to throw to…AGAIN.

Thursday night, Stafford and Kupp suit up at home to start the season. The duo must be salivating at the opportunity to start the year out by teaching the Bills’ rookie CB (Elam) a hard lesson: the NFL is not college kid, and you’re about to get a master class in route running from one of the best in the business.

Cooper Kupp

Last year Cooper finished the year with just shy of 1950 yards and 16 touchdowns. He finished 2021 not only as the Super Bowl MVP but PFF’s #2 ranked WR in the NFL. His QB is willing to get him the ball at whatever the cost. Look for Stafford and Kupp to hook up early and often this week and force Elam and the Bills secondary to sweat.

Cam Akers

Cam Akers is nothing short of a freak of nature. He not only came back from a torn Achilles, but he managed to reclaim the workhorse back status in the Rams’ offense. The speed and agility were not 100% back to normal, but he looked powerful and decisive on the carries he had once returning to the fold.

This season, Joe Noteboom has replaced the beloved but aged Andrew Whitworth and should give Cam Akers a little more room to run.

Expect the game to start with a fair amount of ground and pound behind this good LA offensive line. Establishing the run early will open up the passing game for Stafford.

Allen Robinson

Allen Robinson is the wild card on this offense coming into 2022. Expectations are high for the veteran who has been afforded many excuses for subpar seasons due to being on bad teams with very poor offenses. He started his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars and then spent the last few seasons with Chicago Bears.

Robinson should benefit from Kupp being on the other side of the field from him and drawing the majority of Buffalo’s attention. He is big and strong and will also force the Bills to gameplan for him.

Defense

DE – A’Shawn Robinson, Marquise Copeland

NT – Greg Gaines, Jonah Willaims

DT – Aaron Donald, Michael Hoecht

OLB – Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis, Leonard Floyd, Keir Thomas

ILB – Ernest Jones, Jake Himmel, Bobby Wagner, Christian Rozeboom, Jake Gervase.

LCB – Troy Hill, Robert Rochell, Derion Kendrick

RCB – Jaylen Ramsey, David Long, Cobie Durant

SS –  Taylor Rapp, Jordan Fuller

FS – Nick Scott, Terell Burgess, Russ Yeast

Stud Defenders at Every Level

We would be remiss to focus solely on Aaron Donald when talking about a stellar defensive core. Yes, #99 is, without question, the best in the business on the defensive side of the ball. The linebacking core and secondary are also nothing to shake your head at.

When Josh Allen looks around the field to dissect the defensive alignment, his eyes will stop in three very distinct places. The first will be at DT, where Aaron Donald will line up; then, when he scans the linebackers, he will see one of the best interior backs to play the game over the past decade, Bobby Wagner. As if that is not enough to give any QB a case of the yips, you also have to deal with Jaylen Ramsey at corner.

Ramsey will line up across from Bills stud receiver Stefon Diggs, in what should be an epic, heated, (and noisy) one-on-one battle. Wagner will look to contain Josh Allen when he tucks the ball and runs. Can Bobby keep pace with Josh when he takes off? Nobody thinks he is the force he once was, but this test will show the rest of the NFL what he has left in the tank.

The Rams certainly have enough talent on defense to minimize a talented QB like Josh Allen, but how effective they are will all start with pressure from the front. Buffalo could be in for a long day if Aaron Donald gets past the Bills’ offensive line and gets his hands on the mobile QB.

Summary

The season’s first game should be a real treat, no matter which team you’re rooting for. There are absolute studs on each side of the ball for both teams.

All these questions will be answered in just a few short days! The NFL regular season is finally upon us, and I could not have asked for a better start to the season. Thank you, NFL!

Fantasy Projections and Final Score Prediction

Buffalo Bills:

Josh Allen: 31-39/285/2 + 1 interception,  8/50/1

Stefon Diggs: 10/120/0

Gabe Davis: 7/551

Dawson Knox: 5/45/1

Devin Singletary: 10/55/0

James Cook: 4/16/0, & 3/35/0

Los Angeles Rams:

Matthew Stafford: 30-45/325/3 + 2 interceptions

Cooper Kupp: 11/115/2

Allen Robinson: 6/65/0

Cam Akers 15/95/1, & 4/15/0

Final Score: I think this game is going to be relatively high scoring, and sadly, I think the Bills will start the season 0-1.

LA Rams win at home 30-27

As always, thank you for reading. If you have any opinions about this or any of my articles, please leave a comment below and/or on whatever social media platform you use.

You can find all my articles on Sports Obsessive.com

Written by Tom Ayling

I am Canadian, an NFL Fanatic, and proud member of #BillsMafia. I watch game film and write about what I see on tape, not just the box scores.

2 Comments

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  1. Great breakdown! There will be SO much to dissect following this game. Feels like so many more potential storylines coming out of game 1. Bills RB usage (I see Singletary, moss and cook dressing), the Gabe Davis hypetrain, crowder vs McKenzie, Allen Robinson playing with his best QB…. Ever, the rams interesting backfield, Staffords elbow, etc! I am hyped!

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