We are less than a week away from the start of the NFL season, and you can almost smell the Week 1 tailgates.
You can see the Super Bowl rings won by the Rams six months ago, and we will see them hang their championship banner on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium when they welcome the Buffalo Bills to town.
A Buffalo Bills team that is the current betting favorite to win this year’s Super Bowl in Arizona.
The first test for the Bills, and for the Rams for that matter, is the season’s very first game. And this is where the winner and the loser will be decided.
Josh Allen vs. Matthew Stafford
This one is obvious. Of course the two starting quarterbacks are key. But specifically, remember back to last season and the way each quarterback started.
Stafford threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against the Bears, in what was his highest rated game of the season. By the third week of the season the Rams were ranked first overall in the Cold, Hard Football Fact’s Real Quarterback Rating – the most complete quarterback evaluator stat for NFL wagering – and the Rams were in the top-five every week of the season.
Josh Allen lost to the Steelers in Week 1, had a bad game against Miami in Week 2, and finally broke out in Week 3 against Washington. The Bills began the season ranked 28th in Real Quarterback Rating, didn’t climb into the top-20 until after Week 3, and finally got into the top-10 by Week 5.
Allen must start better than in 2021 if the Buffalo Bills are going to win on Thursday.
Allen Robinson vs. the Buffalo Bills Secondary
The Bills finished last season as the top ranked team by Cold, Hard Football Facts in Defensive Real Quarterback Rating and Defensive Passer Rating.
But consider that after the injury to Tre’Davious White on Thanksgiving, the Buffalo Bills saw both of those ratings get worse over the final six weeks of the season, culminating with the defense’s terrible performance against Kansas City in the playoffs.
With no White, who is going to slow down the new addition to the Rams passing attack, Allen Robinson? He has by all accounts been electric in training camp, and if Buffalo can’t find someone to blanket him they will get eaten alive once again.
James Cook vs. Josh Allen
Yes, these guys are on the same offense, so they aren’t technically playing against each other. But the battle to be the top rusher for Buffalo is very important in Week 1, and beyond.
Nine times last season Allen either eclipsed or matched lead running back Devin Singletary in yards rushing in a game. That needs to change. Allen will always be a runner, and it’s one of his greatest strengths. But he should be a complement to a good running attack, and not its greatest feature.
Buffalo believes they have their man in the rookie James Cook, the younger brother of Dalvin Cook, and we shall see on Thursday.
Read more about the NFL.