Two of the best teams in the NFL will match up for the NFL regular season’s first game in what could be a very early Super Bowl preview.
These are two very similarly constructed rosters and the outcome of this one will likely come down to execution. Here are some matchups to watch in this big-time opening night showdown.
Bills passing attack vs. Rams secondary
Buffalo’s weapons through the air remain mostly the same for this upcoming season. Josh Allen will be throwing to receivers Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, and tight end Dawson Knox again this year. Added into the mix is veteran receiver Jamison Crowder, who should fit right in as another vertical threat.
The Rams secondary is a bit depleted heading into this title defense season and some players will have to step up if this team wants to return to the Super Bowl.
Jalen Ramsey is still heading the unit so there is always hope, but the first few games may be a bit of a struggle to find an identity. The edge will go to Allen and the Bills passing game.
Rams passing attack vs. Bills secondary
The LA passing game was a main reason for winning its Super Bowl title last season. QB Matt Stafford went from a bad Detroit team to a dynamic Rams offense and had tremendous success moving the ball down the field.
This offseason the Rams decided to let Odell Beckham Jr. head into free agency and replaced him with ex-Bears receiver Allen Robinson. There shouldn’t be much of a drop-off there and other than this change, there are no more to speak of in Stafford’s arsenal. The Bills secondary has been okay but exploitable, and the team has added rookie Kaiir Elam from the Florida Gators into the starting mix at corner. Similar to with the Rams, there is room to grow for this secondary but not in week 1. The definite edge in this matchup will go to Stafford and Co.
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Bills RBs vs. Rams RBs
This could be the biggest X-factor matchup in this game, as both teams have struggled a bit in the past to find a consistent rushing attack. The Bills drafted Dalvin Cook’s little brother, James, who is fresh off a national championship with Georgia.
The Rams are getting a healthy Cam Akers back after he missed essentially the entire season last year. LA also features Darrell Henderson Jr. in a dual-back committee. Buffalo also utilizes Devin Singletary (starter) and Zack Moss, setting up a triple threat of RBs for this season. Due to quality and quantity, the Bills may have the slight edge here but this one could really go either way. Whichever team can establish a more threatening run game will take the immediate advantage in this one, and I would lean towards that team being Buffalo.
Bills O-line vs. Rams D-line
This is probably the biggest mismatch of the entire game. The Bills offensive line is probably a bottom-10 or so unit in the NFL. The Rams, meanwhile, have one of the scariest defensive line/linebacker combos in the league and will come at the QB all game long.
They are going to find their way into the backfield early and often, creating some adversity for Allen as well as the Bills RB committee. Again, there isn’t much to overthink here. The clearadvantage goes to the Rams D-line.
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Rams O-line vs. Bills D-line
This is a mostly even matchup, as both the Rams offensive line and Bills defensive line are likely borderline top-10 units in the league. The Bills D-line, however, has probably more of a cemented status in that top 10 and figures to have the slight edge here. Buffalo poached linebacker Von Miller from the defending champs this offseason, and Miller will spend a lot of time in the LA backfield Thursday night.
This is a nearly impossible opening night matchup to predict. Not only are these teams so even in talent level, but as I said above, they are also built so similarly. This makes it very difficult to separate the two, but one team must win on Thursday. I will give the oh-so-slight edge to Buffalo, as they sit atop the Super Bowl champion odds for good reason. This is going to be a dominant year for the Bills, and that starts with a statement victory over the defending champs in their stadium.
As far as the over/under goes, I’m expecting a bit of an underwhelming showing as far as points go. It is the first game of the season, and teams need a game or two to get back into proper form. I don’t think the offenses will be able to fire on all cylinders quite yet and both defenses will be swarming all game long. I expect this one to stay just under 52. Enjoy what should be one of the most exciting opening night games we’ve seen in a while and good luck!
Prediction: Bills-2.5 at Unibet
Prediction: Under 52 points at Caesars
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