Wow, the NFL gave its fanbase a real treat this year by scheduling two of the best and most electric teams in the league to kick off the season. Both teams are typically perceived as offensive juggernauts, and for good reason. The Bills and Rams boast premier quarterback play, talented skill position rooms, solid offensive lines, not to mention fantastic coaching. Last season, these teams averaged 29.8 and 27 PPG in 2021, good for third and sixth place among all 32 teams. It’s understandable that fans would expect these teams to deliver an offensive spectacle, reminding everyone how much they missed watching the NFL.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to occur. The Bills and Rams also complement their offenses with just as stellar defenses, finishing the season with 18.3 and 21.3 points allowed per game, which finished 1st and 9th, respectively. Both defenses return to the field in 2022 mostly intact, ready to wreak havoc to the opposing offense in front of a roaring crowd, although missing Tre’Davious White certainly does impact the fearsome Bills secondary of a year ago. In general, it takes longer for an offense to adjust to game speed again than defense, not even considering that both teams underwent turnover in their offensive coordinator positions. With Brian Daboll and Kevin O’Connell now head coaches on other squads, it’s safe to assume that it might take a couple quarters for the newly led offenses to find their footing while under siege by energized defenses.
Furthermore, it should be noted that in opening games dating back to 2002, only five exceed the implied combined point total for the Rams and Bills of 52.5. This occurred even though all but three featured the defending super bowl champion, which presumably carried a competent offense, and was likely scheduled against a worthy opponent. After all, the NFL hopes to draw the greatest viewership possible. These contests are specifically selected to be Big Games, a plausible cause for a low scoring affair. Big Games are defined by their importance to the team to perform well, and can be emphasized in playoff basketball and football, in which contests that would be high scoring in the regular season transform into hardnosed dogfights because defenses truly leave everything on the field. And trust me, Bills Rams is a Big Game even compared to past season openers. The Rams obviously want to make a statement that they are still the team to beat this year, but the Bills believe they should be that team as well. I think an overarching perception of this showdown is the winner claims rights to be the early Super-Bowl favorites. These factors considered, this game producing 52.5 points is an easy fade for me, hammer the under.