Matchups: Thursday Night Football – Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams

Thursday Night Football Los Angeles Rams Buffalo Bills

The 2022 NFL season kicks off with Thursday Night Football between the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Los Angeles Rams, and the near-consensus Super Bowl favorite, the Buffalo Bills.

Spread: Rams +2.5

Game Total: 52

Team Totals: Rams (24.75), Bills (27.25)

Weather: Sofi Stadium is an indoor-outdoor stadium. The mid-to-low 80s game time temperature will be the only weather factor in this contest. 

The Line Report

  • The current consensus spread is Rams +2.5, with a few Rams +2 options available.
  • Among sportsbooks that released lines in mid-May, a few opened with the Rams as a slight favorite, while Buffalo opened as the favorite at others.
  • When concerns over Matthew Stafford’s throwing elbow first surfaced, the line moved to Rams +2.5 at most books. 
  • DraftKings Pick’Em Pool has the Rams at +2.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest releases its lines on Thursday afternoon.
  • The consensus total for this contest is currently 52-points.
  • The total opened at 52.5 points; it fluctuated between that peak and 51.5 throughout the summer.

Notable Injuries

Rams: G Logan Bruss (Out), WR Van Jefferson (Out)

Bills: CB Tre’Davious White (Out) 

The Rams Offense vs. Bills Defense

With stud cornerback Tre’Davious White out, Buffalo will rely on their young cornerbacks against the defending champs. Rams head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford are well positioned to exploit that edge. Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp and newly signed veteran Allen Robinson make that edge a potentially game-breaking matchup in the Rams’ favor.

The Bills’ defensive front has a small but manageable edge against the Rams’ offensive line. The Rams’ new left tackle, Joe Noteboom, replaces potential Hall of Famer Andrew Whitworth. Noteboom’s ability to manage edge rushers Gregory Rousseau and former Ram Von Miller will be one of the keys to this game. We can count on McVay’s coaching staff to take some pressure off Noteboom through their scheme.

Notes and Observations

  • The Rams were 8-9 against the spread in 2021.
  • The Rams were 9-7-1 on overs in 2021.
  • The Rams were 2-5 against playoff teams in the 2021 regular season.
  • McVay has never lost a season opener.
  • Including the playoffs, Kupp saw at least 7 targets in every game and at least 10 in 17-of-his 21 contests last season.
  • Including the playoffs, Kupp recorded at least 92 receiving yards in all but two of his 21 games last season.
  • Kupp went for 9-107-1 on 10 targets when he last faced Buffalo in 2020.

If you’re playing showdown on opening night, be sure to check out our showdown coverage.

The Bills Offense vs. Rams Defense

From a macro sense, the Bills’ offensive line is in a good position to mitigate the Rams’ front. Outside of edge rusher Leonard Floyd, the Rams’ pass rush gets thin after Aaron Donald. That said, Donald is one of the most unique defensive players in history, as he can singlehandedly take over games. Josh Allen’s play-extending abilities are always a difference-maker, especially against premium pass rushers like Donald. 

Notes and Observations

  • The Bills were 9-6-2 against the spread in 2021.
  • The Bills were 8-9 on overs in 2021.
  • The Bills went 2-4 against playoff teams in the 2021 regular season.
  • Ken Dorsey will be Buffalo’s new offensive play caller this season. Dorsey has been Josh Allen’s quarterbacks’ coach during the past three seasons. He was also the Bills’ passing game coordinator last season.
  • Per The 33rd Team’s Edge tool, MVP candidate Josh Allen was second in the league in air yards and fourth in passing attempts.
  • Per The Edge, the Rams yielded the fourth most receiving yards (2,950) to wide receivers last season.
  • Stefon Diggs was 5th in targets, 9th in receptions, and 8th in receiving yards last season.
  • Jalen Ramsey did not shadow primary receivers under Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris last season.
  • When these two teams last faced each other in 2020, slot receiver Cole Beasley caught 6-of-7 targets for 100 yards. Isaiah McKenzie is the Bills’ current slot receiver.

If you’re playing showdown on opening night, be sure to check out our showdown coverage.

What You’re Betting On in Rams vs. Bills

A bet on the Rams starts as a bet on McVay and Stafford’s ability to exploit the Bills’ unproven cornerbacks group. It also comes with the expectation the Rams’ offensive line can manage Buffalo’s good but not quite great pass rush. Donald’s ability to derail a game is a potential benefit of any spread or under bet involving the Rams.

However, remember that despite having some premium talent, the Rams’ defense was more of a middle-of-the-pack unit last season.  Allen just about single-handedly winning this contest would be my biggest concern as a Rams bettor.

A bet on the Bills is primarily a bet on MVP-caliber quarterback Allen. During the last two seasons, Allen has shown he can hang serious points on anyone, which includes Buffalo’s 35-32 win over Jared Goff’s Rams in 2020. Donald had two sacks in that contest, and he represents the biggest challenge Buffalo’s offense faces. Buffalo’s second key matchup is how well their young cornerbacks handle the Rams’ dangerous passing attack. If you’re leaning towards Buffalo in this contest, that’s my biggest concern.

Winner/ Confidence Pool: This is a coin flip game in winner pools. We can expect Buffalo to be the slightly more popular option in this format. In confidence pools, this is the type of game to place near the bottom of your weekly rankings.

Spread Pool: This game won’t make my pool of options for tournaments. For a spread pool where you pick every game, I’m leaning towards taking the Rams’ side. But, that is a very minor lean currently.

Survivor: Both the Bills and Rams should be avoided this week for survivor purposes.

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