Set to open up their Super Bowl title defense on Thursday Night, the Los Angeles Rams will square off against the Buffalo Bills. The odds on favorite to capture the Lombardi Trophy in February, Sean McDermott's team is looking to put their playoff heartbreak from a year ago behind them. They were 13 seconds away from advancing to their second straight AFC title game. However, the group ultimately allowed their opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, to come back and tie the game before falling in overtime. On the flip side, the Rams are looking to become just the ninth team in NFL history to repeat as champions. Losing multiple key players in the offseason, the franchise saw longtime left tackle Andrew Whitworth retire while also shipping veteran wide receiver Robert Woods to the Tennesee Titans. In the 14th meeting all-time between these two clubs, here is how they stack up.
Home to one of the most dynamic offenses in the league, the Bills are led by one of the game's brightest stars in quarterback Josh Allen. The former seventh overall pick was nearly flawless for the team during their playoff run last season. He amassed over 600 yards through the air while tossing nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Getting back his top target Stefon Diggs, the duo has become one of the NFL's top quarterback wide receiver tandems. Choosing to move on from both Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley in the offseason, one name to watch for Buffalo in this one is third-year man Gabriel Davis. Fresh off a four-touchdown performance in their playoff loss against the Chiefs, the former fourth-round pick will handle the No. 2 wide receiver duties.
The Bill's defense again finished as the No. 1 overall unit in the NFL last season. However, McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier were left kicking themselves after an epic collapse that saw Kansas City drive down the field in just 13 seconds to tie the game. Focused on bolstering their pass rush in the offseason, the franchise made headlines by inking Von Miller to a six-year deal. Currently the NFL's sack leader with 115.5, the 33-year-old played a crucial role in Los Angeles's run to the Super Bowl. Along with this, general manager Brandon Beane also added to the interior by signing Tim Settle, DaQuan Jones, Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips. Without All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White to open the season as he works his way back from a torn ACL, the group will hope that rookie Kaiir Elam and former seventh-round pick Dane Jackson can fill the void in his absence.
Los Angeles Rams
Heading into year two with Matthew Stafford at the helm of their offense, the 34-year-old quarterback was sensational for Los Angeles in 2021. Helping lead the team to their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history, he completed over 67 percent of his passes for 4,886 yards while tying his career high in touchdown passes with 41. Joined by new faces on the outside, the Rams flipped Woods to the Tennessee Titans in a salary cap dump before agreeing to terms with longtime Chicago Bear Allen Robinson. Looking to add a vertical threat on the outside, expect star wideout Cooper Kupp to remain the focal point of Liam Coen's group. Becoming the NFL's first triple crown winner since 2005 a year ago, he is a monster after the catch and will provide a major test for Buffalo's secondary.
Getting off to a slow start to kick off their 2021 campaign, the Rams defense was unable to regain its form from the season before. They allowed nearly 26 points per game throughout the first month of the year. However, after acquiring Miller at the trade deadline to pair with Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, the unit shined throughout November, December, and the postseason. However, with Miller choosing to depart for Buffalo, the team will hope for a big leap forward from both Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis.
Making a major improvement in the middle of their defense, the franchise inked longtime Seattle Seahawks Bobby Wagner to a five-year deal. They also reacquired Troy Hill from the Cleveland Browns to pair with star cornerback Jalen Ramsey in a deep secondary group.
Points Spread: BUF -2.5 (-110) | LA +2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: BUF -135 | LA +115
Over/Under: O 52.0 (-110) | U 52.0. (-110)
At just a 2.5-point spread, take the Bills to cover the number in what should be one of the most entertaining games of the year. The favorite by many to capture their first Super Bowl title in franchise history, Allen and company should hit the ground rolling and pick up right where they left off a year ago. Along with this, lean on the over, with both offenses expected to be amongst the best in the NFL. With two creative play-callers in Sean McVay and new Buffalo offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, both end zones should receive no shortage of action.
Opening up their title defense on Thursday night, the Rams are aiming to become the first team to win back-to-back Lombardi Trophy's since the New England Patriots in 2001-2002. Squaring off against one of their most formidable opponents of the season in Buffalo, McDermott and company are looking to climb the mountain and get back to the big game for the first time in nearly 30 years. In what should be one of the most entertaining games of the season between two teams loaded with stars on both sides of the football, Allen and the Bills will pull away late.
Final Score: Buffalo Bills 35 Los Angeles Rams 28