Since 2004, it’s grow to be a convention for the defending Tremendous Bowl champion to kick off the season at dwelling. The one exceptions got here in 2013, when the Baltimore Ravens needed to play on the highway as a result of a scheduling battle with the Orioles, and 2019, when the NFL opted to have a good time its a centesimal season with a Bears-Packers matchup as a substitute of 1 that includes the New England Patriots.
In that point, the Tremendous Bowl champ is 14-3 of their Week 1 matchup. If we go all the way in which again to 2000, that jumps as much as 18-3. Principally, the Tremendous Bowl hangover hasn’t performed a significant factor early within the season. Nonetheless, with the Rams taking over this yr’s Tremendous Bowl favourite, the Buffalo Payments, tonight, many individuals have shifted away from the defending champs. Hell, even Vegas lists the Payments as 2.5-point favorites on the highway. So, are the Payments that a lot better? I’ve all the time been instructed that home-field benefit gives a three-point swing in your favor by way of betting odds, so does this imply that the Rams can be a 5.5-point underdog in the event that they had been in Buffalo? That may’t be proper. The Rams are nonetheless remarkably good. Nonetheless, there’s one issue that has made many bettors imagine the Payments maintain an enormous benefit: Von Miller.
That is silly. Von Miller is nice, certain, and was a exceptional a part of the Rams’ Tremendous Bowl run final yr, however are we actually imagined to imagine that Miller holds the secrets and techniques of the Rams’ protection that the Payments want with a view to win? Information flash, the Rams didn’t change their defensive coordinator. Any and all movie the Payments would have wanted with a view to prep for this sport was already obtainable.
Sure, having a vet like Miller round to assist clarify defensive intricacies to among the youthful Payments’ gamers will assist put together the staff, however let’s not fake like Miller was holding secrets and techniques of the Rams and has uncovered all the pieces they do to this Payments’ teaching employees. Buffalo is a multi-billion greenback group with quite a few scouts, video groups, and information analysts. Any info they may’ve wished relating to Miller’s former staff, they possible already had months earlier than they signed Miller in free company.
Glad we bought that out of the way in which. The largest elements to be careful for on this sport would be the Stefon Diggs-Jalen Ramsey matchup and whether or not or not the Josh Allen-Gabe Davis connection has any remnants from that AFC Divisional Spherical matchup with the Chiefs. If Davis is something like he was in that playoff sport, the Rams are toast. That mentioned, I don’t belief Davis after only one nice sport. This was a man who recorded greater than 5 targets solely thrice final season and by no means had greater than 5 receptions in a single sport. Then the playoffs roll round, he goes nuts for eight catches, 201 yards, and 4 scores, and out of the blue everyone loses their minds.
I understand that Davis was trending up in the target department late down the stretch last season (recording eight, seven, three, and 14 in his final four games), but let’s be real for a second. He had 14 targets in that Week 18 game against a weak Jets secondary and only recorded three receptions. That happened two weeks before his glow-up. At the very least, that’s a flash of inconsistency, and against a team as defensively talented as the Rams, they’ll take every advantage they can get. While I assume most of the defensive focus will be on Diggs, Davis will certainly be on the Rams’ radar. Everybody knows the Bills are a pass-heavy team, so the Rams have likely prepared to shut down the aerial attack and will try to force the game into Devin Singletary, James Cook, and Zack Moss’s hands early. I don’t trust any of those guys.
On the other side of the ball, the question remains: “Can the Bills stop Cooper Kupp?” Frankly, I wouldn’t trust them. In 2021, the Bills only had to face an elite wide receiver twice last season: Week 5 at Kansas City & Week 14 at Tampa Bay (three times if you include their playoff loss to KC). In those games, the Bills struggled to stop their opponents’ top wideouts. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin combined for 16 receptions, 196 yards, and a touchdown in Week 14. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce combined for 13 receptions, 120 yards, and a touchdown in Week 4, which isn’t terrible, but the Chiefs did struggle early last season. In the playoffs, Hill went nuts for 11, 150, and a score. I understand that the game was a shootout and it’s tough to defend when teams are in the zone, but there isn’t a long enough track record of the Bills being able to defend against elite receivers, and Kupp is arguably the best in the league.
Just because Kupp will probably have a good game doesn’t mean the Rams are guaranteed to win. However, in games where Kupp had 12 or more targets last season, the Rams went 6-3 and only scored less than 20 points once. They scored 30 or more in four of those games. Even for an offense as high-powered as the Bills, 30 points is tough to beat.
All this said, I’m not picking the Rams to win. You probably think that given everything I’ve said, but rather, this was all to point out how the Rams could win. I don’t feel comfortable picking either side in this matchup. I wouldn’t touch this game with a 39-and-a-half foot pole if I were betting this weekend. Still, surprisingly, according to ESPN’s Pick ‘Em numbers, more than 60 percent of people have picked the Bills to win and cover. That’s a high figure for a contest between two teams as talented as we’re seeing. That rubs me the wrong way. I’m not saying anybody who chooses the Bills is stupid or wrong, but it should be much closer in my opinion.