The NFL is officially back! We kick off the 2022 season with the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills heading to Los Angeles to face the reigning champion Rams on Thursday Night. The Bills are currently 2.5-point road favorites with a total that stands at 52.5, via FanDuel Sportsbook.
Both of these lines have moved since opening when the Bills were 1-point favorites, and the total was 51.5. This matchup will be sure to produce fireworks, as both of these teams are projected to once again be top NFL offenses.
Bills Offense vs. Rams Defense
Josh Allen comes into the season as the MVP favorite at +700 after posting the 5th-most Total Points among quarterbacks in 2021. He has shown he can get it done with his arm, and has value in his legs. Allen was 1st in the NFL in EPA per rushing attempt (0.27) among all rushers with 100 carries. The do-it-all quarterback will certainly have his hands full in all aspects against a Rams defense loaded with talent at each level.
Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald returns after posting 60 Total Points on defense in 2021, good for the 8th-most among NFL defenders. Donald also came in the Top 5 in both Run Defense and Pass Rush Total Points. Look for him to make an impact against a Bills offensive line that finished 21st and 24th in Run Blocking and Pass Blocking Total Points, respectively and made no major upgrades in the offseason.
On the outside, Stefon Diggs returns after posting the 8th-most receiving yards with 1,225 in 2021. His matchup? The 2021 NFL leader in defensive Total Points, Jalen Ramsey. This matchup will be must-watch TV, as two of the best at their respective positions will battle it out in primetime.
With Diggs locked up against Ramsey, Gabe Davis will have an opportunity to build on the momentum he created at the end of last season. In the playoffs, Davis posted 10 catches with 201 yards and 5 TDs. Davis will see a lot of cornerback Troy Hill, who the Rams brought back after he played with the Browns last season. Hill struggled with the Browns, allowing 9.4 yards per attempt and only accumulated 2.3 Pass Defense Total Points, good for only 102nd and 98th among 108 cornerbacks with at least 25 targets.
Rams Offense vs. Bills Defense
Matthew Stafford once again leads the Rams after getting them over the hump as a Super Bowl Champion. Stafford ranked 3rd in the NFL in yards per attempt with 8.1 and 4th in Passing Total Points with 140. He will face a Bills defense that is missing their best CB in Tre’Davious White, who has been placed on the PUP list while still recovering from his torn ACL.
One player Stafford is familiar with on the other side is former teammate Von Miller, who is now the primary pass rusher for the Bills. Miller will look to add to a Bills pass rush that already ranked Top 10 in both Total Points and pressure percentage in 2021.
Cooper Kupp and newcomer Allen Robinson highlight the weapons of the Rams’ offense. Kupp, the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, did it all for the Rams last season. He led the NFL in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and Receiving Total Points.
Robinson is coming to the Rams with the hope it will set him free from poor QB play that has plagued most of his career to this point. Since coming into the league in 2015, Robinson has three seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards. Since 2016, he has also posted two Top 20 receiving Total Points seasons with one of those being 5th in 2019.
Without White, the Bills will look to rookie Kaiir Elam and third-year corner Dane Jackson to shoulder the load against this explosive Rams offense. It is certainly not ideal to have your corners, who only have 16 games of playing experience combined, face one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.
Luckily, the Bills’ safeties are as good of a pairing as it gets. Both Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer ranked in the top 10 in Pass Defense Total Points among safeties in 2021, with Poyer earning the top spot with 32. These two will have to take charge of the secondary for the Bills to have any success against the Rams.
All in all, this will be a great test for both teams to prove they are the alpha dog early on in the 2022 season. With some questions in the secondaries for both teams, it is not shocking to see the total tick upwards since the opening line. Two MVP-caliber quarterbacks will have the opportunity to put on a show early on and send a message to the rest of the league.
James Weaver contributed to this report.