For the second straight year, the Buffalo Bills have started the year 2-0. Josh Allen has certainly shown improvement through two games, leading the NFL in passing yards. The acquisition of Stefon Diggs seems to be paying off for the offense. While that side of the ball is humming through the first two weeks, the defense has played well, but not to the level yet most fans are accustomed to seeing from head coach Sean McDermott’s and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier's defense. One thing is for certain: This will be the Bills’ first real test early on this season on both sides of the ball. Here’s a short preview of the Los Angeles Rams.
Watching the Rams play the Philadelphia Eagles last week, the game never seem to have any sort of suspense thanks to the dominant performance on offense for Jared Goff. The Rams used a lot of play action and moving Goff outside of the pocket to deliver most of his throws. While he isn’t the most mobile quarterback in the league, he can move around fairly easily inside the pocket. He seemed very comfortable distributing the ball all over the field, tossing his first three touchdowns of the season last week, all to tight end Tyler Higbee. Higbee might not even be their number-one target on offense, as that title could belong to Cooper Kupp.
It’s kind of amazing to think that the Bills had the chance to take Kupp in the 2017 draft, but chose to go in the direction of Zay Jones, who now is catching passes from Derek Carr with the Las Vegas Raiders. Rams head coach Sean McVay uses multiple schemes to try and get Kupp the ball, whether it be via jet screens, end arounds, or crossing patterns over the middle. Once he gets the ball, he’s very shifty in the open field and has pretty good speed. They also have Robert Woods on the opposite side—making his first return to Buffalo since leaving in free agency back in 2017—who can take over a game for the Rams himself. Just ask Dallas about Week 1.
The big key that I think the Rams might exploit this week is with Tyler Higbee. As stated above, Higbee caught three touchdowns from Jared Goff against the Eagles. Seeing as Mike Gesicki carved up the Bills’ defense without Milano and Edmunds in the lineup last week, it’s not crazy to imagine McVay trying to recreate the same formula Miami used, especially if both miss the game again. Even if they do play, McVay might test them out and see just how healthy they are—especially Milano given his hamstring injury may hinder his mobility.
You cannot talk about the Rams’ defense without mentioning Aaron Donald, the game’s premier defensive tackle. The five-time all pro has consistently been the best defensive tackle in the game since he was drafted in the first round of 2013, and he shows no signs of slowing down at all. His speed and quickness off the ball is second to none, he easily makes all-pro linemen look like rookies, and has superhuman type strength. Whoever on the Bills’ offensive line is tasked with handling Donald will have their hands full all day.
However it’s not just Aaron Donald the Bills’ offense has to worry about. Micah Kiser really had a wonderful game last week against the Eagles. He seemed to always know where the ball was and made plenty of big tackles and even forced a fumble. So far through two games he’s been one of the Rams’ best linebackers and will look to continue his hot start to the season.
The secondary for Los Angeles also should not be forgotten. Jalen Ramsey, the league’s highest-paid cornerback, is still one of the best in the game. His size on the outside can frustrate even the best receivers. It’s highly possible he shadows Stefon Diggs for the entire game, which will probably be the best match-up. Diggs had his way against an improved secondary of Miami, and will have another interesting week with Ramsey. While Diggs will be occupied most likely with Ramsey, someone like John Brown might be matched up with Darious WIlliams, who recorded an interception on Carson Wentz last week. If the Bills want to continue with this aerial assault-style offense they’ve implemented, this would be the more favorable match-up to go up against.
Their best bet though may be getting Devin Singletary going in the running game. Miles Sanders almost cracked 100 yards rushing last week for the Eagles, so look for the Bills to go to a more balanced-style offense. The running game did improve a little last week against Miami, but they didn’t need it much as they had so much success throwing it. They still can have success throwing it this week, just not as much. Singletary getting his touches might be able to open up some options in the play action game as well, where Allen has thrived in his career.
This is where I believe the season begins to get interesting for the Bills. They were fortunate enough to start against a New York Jets team that might have the number-one pick in next year’s draft, and a rebuilding Miami Dolphins team. Now their next four games are against teams that are each currently 2-0. If Buffalo wants to prove to everyone that they are a serious playoff and Super Bowl contender, this four-game stretch will show that, and it starts with the Rams. I think that with Milano and Edmunds back, the Bills can find a way to rebound from last week’s defensive let down. Even if they are both out or even just one of them, they still can find ways to make plays on defense, but it would be a lot tougher to get the W.
On offense, how they match up against Aaron Donald will be the focal point of their game plan, because you can’t completely negate his affect on the game—no team can. Some moving pockets and using Allen’s athleticism to move him around and away from Donald could help, but time will tell. Ramsey covering Diggs means that Ramsey will for sure win on some plays. It’s going to be interesting to see how many times Diggs can get the best of him.
This could be a high-scoring shootout that goes back and forth against two pretty evenly matched teams. I’m going to pick the Bills to win because I like their match-ups on the outside with the Rams’ secondary, and one of these games Singletary has to have a big day. This could be the perfect week for him to find it. I also believe the defense for the Bills will be able to rebound off of a shaky performance last week in Miami. The Bills under this regime have shown they can bounce back from bad performances. If it plays out like this the Bills will have back-to-back 3-0 starts for the first time since the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
Prediction: Bills defeat Rams, 30-27.