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NFL: Buffalo Bills @ LA Rams preview

The waiting is finally almost over for NFL fans and the 2022 Kickoff Game looks to be every-inch the mouthwatering match-up the schedulers intended when they pitted the Buffalo Bills with the Los Angeles Rams.

It's the Super Bowl LVII favourites against the reigning champions, with elite players and storylines littered everywhere you look.

So it should make for compelling and spectacular viewing at a sweltering SoFi Stadium - where the Rams will raise a banner commemorating the 2021 Super Bowl team in the pre-game period.

Von Miller will be on the opposite sideline for this one, however, and by the end of the game we might have a better idea if he has increased or diminished his prospects of adding a third ring to his collection this year.

WhatBuffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Rams
WhereSoFi Stadium, Los Angeles
When20:20 EST/17:20 PT, Thursday September 8th 2022
How to watchNBC, Peacock, Universo
OddsBUF Bills -135, LA Rams +115

Miller's crossing a clue to Bills' long-term prospects

Miller's offseason move to Buffalo - not usually a popular choice for free agents with a choice of almost any destination - spoke volumes about what anyone watching carefully already knew.

The Bills are going places and their intended final destination this year is State Farm Stadium, Arizona in mid-February.

Not to be outdone over a splashy signing for long, the Rams then used their free cap space to fill one of their bigger needs at inside linebacker with Bobby Wagner.

Elite defences could keep points below Total line

Sean McVay's defense should still get plenty of push up front from Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, and A'Shawn Robinson - the question here is will it be enough to disrupt Josh Allen and the Bills' passing attack?

They could be in trouble if not, as Allen has elevated himself into exalted company among current NFL quarterbacks - if not already in the top five then soon to be.

If this game turns into a shootout between Allen and Rams QB Matthew Stafford plus their stellar receivers - including the Bills' Stefon Diggs and Rams' Cooper Kupp - then Buffalo could prove worthy favourites.

The two defences on show are unlikely to let that happen, however, with Buffalo's unit finishing as the top-ranked scoring D in 2021, while the Rams are full of playmakers on that side of the football.

The Over/Under Total does seem a little too high at 52.0, perhaps because the last time these two met it finished 35-32 to the Bills in Buffalo.

Concerning factors for Bills backers

Thursday's match-up will be the 14th time these two sides face off, with Buffalo leading the series 8-5.

But one concerning aspect for the visitors will be that since Super Bowl XXXIV the defending champions are 18-3 straight up and 13-6-2 against the spread in Week 1 games.

Two obvious areas where the Bills could struggle are on their offensive line, which is good but not elite in pass protection, and in the secondary.

Buffalo's Pro Bowl corner Tre'Davious White is still recovering from the injury that ended his season last year and, although the Bills thought they had snagged a capable rookie in Kaiir Elam with the 23rd overall selection, he struggled in training camp and preseason.

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Stafford and Jefferson may not be 100%

Their best remedy could be to dial up some confusing blitz packages and hope Miller has enough inside knowledge of his former team-mates' techniques to blow by and hurry Stafford into errors.

The ex-Detroit Lions QB has been dealing with elbow tendinitis during camp, although he has assured everyone he has "no limitations" heading into the season.

Van Jefferson's status as the team's WR2 is also in question as reports suggest he might not even suit up for the game, as he deals with a knee injury that he suffered this summer.

Rams can rest easy over the weather

The final factor to remember when these teams meet is that one of them has been constructed to operate in cold weather and the other has not.

The Rams would be at a disadvantage if this game was being played in Buffalo in December, but temperatures in Inglewood are expected to reach the 90s on Thursday - cooling down a little before kick-off.

However, the Bills will be less used to the sweltering conditions, with only seven of the last 157 games staged at their Highmark Stadium home being played with game-time temperatures in the 80s or above.

It may not be a decisive factor, but in such a closely matched contest it could just make enough of a difference to tip the balance the Rams' way.

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