Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams Odds, Predictions, Depth Charts, Injuries, Preview (9/8/22)

The NFL season kicks off with the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams hosting the preseason Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills. Since the odds on this game were first posted, public money has poured in on the Bills, shifting the line from -1 to -2.5 or -3 in their favor. Is the public on the right side of this heavyweight bout between contenders? Let’s dive into the numbers.

Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams Betting Odds

After the departure of Brian Daboll and the elevation of Ken Dorsey as the new offensive coordinator, I expect the Bills to attempt to establish their ground game much more this year. However, this is a tough matchup for them to accomplish that goal in.

You can read below for more on why I’m low on the Bills’ rushing offense, but the bottom line is this – the Rams were one of five teams to allow 4.0 YPC or less despite stacking the box at the second-lowest rate in the NFL. The Bills will struggle to run the ball in this game.

With Tre’Davious White still out with his torn ACL and Jordan Poyer recovering from a hyper-extended elbow, I’m not scared off by the Bills’ pass defense against Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and the newly signed Allen Robinson.

I fully understand the hype around Josh Allen, and I concede that he is one of the most fun players in the NFL. However, I have more questions about Buffalo’s change at offensive coordinator and injuries in the secondary than anything on the Rams’ side.

Despite the line trending towards the Bills in the consensus market, I’ll happily take the points with the defending Super Bowl champions at home given the circumstances. Let’s fade the public to kick off this NFL season.

My predictions: Rams win 26-23, Rams cover, under 52.5 points

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TV Schedule

Date: Thursday, September 8
Time: 8:20 PM ET
Location: SoFi Stadium – Los Angeles, CA
TV Coverage: NBC

Injuries

Buffalo Bills: S Jordan Poyer (elbow) Q, CB Tre’Davious White (ACL) PUP, OG Ike Boettger (Achilles) PUP

Los Angeles Rams: QB Matthew Stafford (elbow) Q, OLB Leonard Floyd (knee) Q, WR Van Jefferson (knee) Q, S Jordan Fuller (ankle) Q, OG Logan Bruss (ACL) IR

Buffalo Bills Analysis

Buffalo Bills

Believe it or not, the Bills’ offense took a step back in 2021. Yes, Josh Allen still had a combined 42 passing and rushing touchdowns, Stefon Diggs was among the league’s leading receivers, and there were fireworks in the playoffs, but the offense wasn’t as efficient overall.

The Bills faced the 20th-ranked schedule of defenses by DVOA, but their offensive DVOA fell from 5th in the NFL to 10th. Buffalo also fell from the best team in the NFL in early down success rate (EDSR) to ninth and fell from fifth in total offensive efficiency to eighth.

There were two primary reasons for this decline. First, defenses played Cover 2 with two high safeties 47% more often last year, which hurt their ability to generate big plays. The Rams’ secondary features Jalen Ramsey, one of the best cornerbacks in football, but they are loaded with depth at corner and safety, as well.

Second, the run game was entirely ineffective. Despite facing loaded boxes (7+ defenders) at the second-lowest rate in the NFL (55%), the Bills ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing EPA on first down running back runs. The offensive line generated just 0.71 yards before contact per run, which ranked 31st in the NFL.

The Bills signed Rodger Saffold and David Quessenberry in the offseason, two stout run-blocking linemen, and are integrating Ryan Bates as a new starter. However, integrating three new starters against the Rams’ elite front seven will put Buffalo in a bind, particularly with their inefficient group of running backs.

Buffalo ranked first in defensive DVOA last year, but it faced the second-easiest schedule of opposing offenses in the NFL. They ranked second in pressure rate in the NFL at 35%, but that came against the easy schedule of offenses. The addition of Von Miller offsets some of the increased difficulty of opponents, but I still won’t expect the same pass-rush productivity.

The Bills had one of the best secondaries in the NFL last year – they ranked first in pass defense DVOA and allowed just 22.2% of deep passes to be completed. However, Tre’Davious White remains out as he recovers from his ACL injury and Jordan Poyer is still recovering from a hyper-extended elbow he suffered a week ago. The defense could take some time to round into form.

Buffalo Bills Depth Chart

QB: Josh Allen
RB1: Devin Singletary
RB2: James Cook
WR1: Stefon Diggs
WR2: Gabe Davis
WR3: Isaiah McKenzie
TE1: Dawson Knox
TE2: Tommy Sweeney

Los Angeles Rams Analysis

los angeles rams

It’s impossible to overstate how massive a difference the upgrade from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford was for the Rams. After ranking 20th in passing EPA, 20th in yards per attempt, and 23rd in yards per completion in 2020, the Rams jumped to the top-ranked team in passing EPA. They were 3rd in yards per attempt and completion in 2021.

As the Rams relied far less on play-action to make their quarterback’s life easier and returned to more of Sean McVay’s patented 11 personnel offense, it allowed a massive leap in productivity. That was especially true for Cooper Kupp, who is coming off a triple crown receiving season and the Super Bowl MVP.

I have some concerns about the Rams’ personnel groupings early on due to the injury to Van Jefferson, but I’m excited about Allen Robinson’s potential in this offense. After seeing just under 80% of his career targets from Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky, Robinson is now catching passes from the best quarterback he’s ever played with in Stafford.

The Rams will hope to have an improved rushing offense after ranking 31st in rushing EPA in 2021. Sony Michel led the team in carries, and he was underwhelming with just 4.0 yards per attempt. The injuries to Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson held back the rushing offense, but Akers’ full Achilles recovery and Henderson’s health puts the backfield in a much better spot.

My major concern for the Rams entering the season is the health of their offensive line. The Rams had the league’s best line in pass-block win rate in 2021, but Andrew Whitworth retired and Austin Corbett left in free agency. Rookie guard Logan Bruss, a projected starter, tore his ACL. Joseph Noteboom has been groomed to replace Whitworth and three other starters return, but the right guard spot is a major question mark.

Despite the loss of Von Miller, the Rams still have an elite defense. Aaron Donald has been the best defensive player in the NFL for a while now, and he’s joined by Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson on a loaded defensive line. Bobby Wagner further bolsters the run defense. The Rams were one of five teams to allow less than 4.0 yards per rush despite stacking the box at the league’s second-lowest rate.

Los Angeles Rams Depth Chart

QB: Matthew Stafford
RB1: Cam Akers
RB2: Darrell Henderson Jr.
WR1: Cooper Kupp
WR2: Allen Robinson II
WR3: Van Jefferson
TE1: Tyler Higbee
TE2: Brycen Hopkins

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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