With the start of the 2022 NFL season just days away, the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams will not have the opportunity to rest on their laurels.
Shortly after the presentation of their championship banner, the Rams will face a team with aspirations of its own. week 1. Los Angeles will host quarterback Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8, the first game of the 2022 season.
While the Rams are confident in their ability to repeat as champions, they are well aware of the Bills’ place at the top of their list of potential challengers. Despite Buffalo’s prowess on both sides of the ball, Rams coach Sean McVay will be ready for all aspects of the Bills’ strengths, even on the sideline.
“They’re an excellent team,” McVay told reporters Friday. “There’s a reason why you see a lot of the narratives from the outside in having them as one of the best teams in the NFL. I think that’s earned based on the ‘consistency they’ve played with, they’ve got great players, great coaches.’ They’ve added some nice pieces on both sides of the ball…Coach McDermott and Coach [Bills’ Defensive Coordinator] Leslie Frazier, have tremendous respect for those guys. So it’s going to be a great challenge.”
One of the most anticipated battles in the NFL season opener will be the Los Angeles defense trying to contain the Bills’ high-octane offense. Allen’s skills, in particular, have certainly caught the Rams’ attention.
McVay and his staff are fully aware of the potential difficulties in defending the 6-5, 237-pound quarterback. Despite losing former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, with whom Allen has a strong professional relationship, the Rams recognize the continuity that Buffalo’s offense will bring to the field.
“They’ve been able to maintain some of their fundamental philosophies. I know Ken Dorsey is the coordinator now, but hopefully, they can operate similarly with a couple of little tweaks and wrinkles here that we have to be ready to play the rules and react.”
Allen played some of the best soccer of his career in 2021. Throughout the regular season, the 25-year-old threw for 4,407 yards with 36 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. His dual-threat capabilities in both the air and ground game make him a metaphorical nightmare for opposing defenses.
Conversely, Buffalo is considered one of the most complete teams in the NFL. In addition to Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and tight end Dawson Knox, the Bills also added linebacker and former Rams linebacker Von Miller to their defense.
“Defensively, they’re excellent,” McVay said. “They have great personnel. They’ve added some depth at the cornerback spot, even though a great player (Buffalo Bills CB) Tre’Davious White won’t be available, they’ve [still] I’ve got great players at all three levels of the defense.”
As expected, the Bills have become the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl, and Allen has the best odds of any player to win the league MVP. Their matchup with the Rams has the makings of an instant classic.
In addition to the matchup between Allen and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, Diggs will face his coverage matchup in Los Angeles corner Jalen Ramsey, while Rams receiver Cooper Kupp will have his hands full trying to break free of Buffalo defensive backs, including Taron Johnson. Dane Jackson and rookie Kaiir Elam.
While the Rams-Bills showdown will be an exciting opener for the 2022 NFL season, its potential to close out the season in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, will make it that much more intriguing.
Los Angeles and Buffalo are scheduled for a 5:20 p.m. PT (8:20 ET) kickoff on Thurs. Sept. 8 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.