The Bills looked like the Super Bowl favorites they’re supposed to be

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The Los Angeles Rams were looking to celebrate their 2021 Super Bowl victory, hang their championship banner and cap the 2022 season with a victory.

The Buffalo Bills took this banner figuratively, put it on a table, set it on fire and jumped through it.

The Bills exploded in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points and leading to a 31-10 victory. Although the game is a bit explosive, there are takeaways that we can take from this game:

The Bills offense is a war machine

My God, Josh Allen. The Bills flagger went 26-31 for 297 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, and added 56 yards and a rushing touchdown. The numbers on the box are impressive, but when you look at how Allen won, it becomes clear that he became one of the best QBs in the league.

In the first half, Allen saw a lot of coverage at 2, forcing him to take passes and controls underhand. What was once a problem for Allen (short area accuracy and impatience) has seemingly become a strength. Allen targeted short areas of the field with laser-like efficiency, firing on-time passes outside of an interception he threw in the first half.

As the second half rolled around, the Rams began to get more aggressive, playing man coverage or blitzing. That’s when Allen made them pay, either by putting his legs to good use or doing things like that, which shouldn’t be normal for an NFL QB, but for Josh Allen, it’s just another Thursday:

This is a concept called “Mills”, where the inside receiver executes a dig, then the outside receiver executes a deep post. The Rams send a blitz from the overloaded side and crush the pocket, but for Allen he throws the ball with anticipation, letting Gabriel Davis go under for a 47-yard gain. If Allen continues to be as effective below and in the short zone while still being able to beat teams over the head with the deep passes, good luck.

In addition, the Bills were able to be many and varied in the running game. Firing right tackle Spencer Brown on play option plays, using fullback Reggie Gilliam on designed outside zone throws. Now that they can go on more empty runs and smash teams in order to get them out of the 2-height shells they will see, it makes their attack extremely dangerous.

Von Miller is the straw that stirs the drink, but the Bills DL is deep and dangerous

It was Von Miller’s return to SoFi Stadium, and he didn’t disappoint, picking up two sacks in the win that perfectly sums up what the future Hall of Famer is all about.

On the first sack, he sets up Rams LT Joe Noteboom on the outside simulating a speed run, then uses a “forklift” technique, raising his hands from the tackle and bull rushing him into Rams QB Matt Stafford. Then, on the next sack, he dives under Noteboom’s hands and passes him for a sack, a Von Miller special.

Although Miller was obviously the big name, the Bills’ defensive line dominated the Rams’ front, and they did so in waves. Before the injury, defensive tackle Ed Oliver was impressive. Jordan Phillips overwhelmed inside the Rams, scoring 1.5 sacks. Young edge defensemen Gregory Rousseau, AJ Epenesa and Boogie Basham combined for 3.5 sacks. In total, the Bills scored seven sacks and seven tackles for the loss. Free agent acquisition Shaq Lawson didn’t even play. This Bills defensive line is deep, versatile and dangerous, and Von Miller is the star of it.

Matt Stafford may not (yet) be a problem…

So let’s talk about Matt Stafford’s performance. The Rams flagger went 29-41 for 240 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, but for most of the game he just looked…uncomfortable. Of his 29 completions, 13 of them went to Cooper Kupp, and no other receiver caught more than five passes. Free agent acquisition Allen Robinson caught just one pass on two targets and never seemed to find his way into the game. The normal hi-lo routes with Kupp sailed a lot more than usual, and it looked like a scrappy offensive performance.

However, don’t worry about Stafford just yet. Not having snaps during pre-season and being restricted to training due to an elbow injury (which may or may not be fully healed – also something to watch out for) certainly played a role in the attacking performance. When you bring in a new receiver like Robinson, it takes time for rapport to build. Unless the elbow injury persists, I still wouldn’t be worried about the Rams signalman.

…but the Rams offensive line is a major problem

Man, that was a performance to forget for the Rams offensive line. After losing retired Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett to the Panthers, the Rams had to replace two of their top five linemen from an offensive line that was already around league average. Add top draft pick Logan Bruss tearing up his ACL in the offseason and you’ll have no more LA parties up front.

The Rams allowed seven sacks, and much of the pressure came from inside, where center Brian Allen and guards Coleman Shelton and David Edwards were overwhelmed by the Bills’ defensive front. A key part of the Los Angeles Super Bowl run was that Matt Stafford was able to make dice plays and defenses from the gun, especially in empty formations. The Rams tried that tonight but Stafford immediately came under pressure from within, canceling any time to make a play. The Rams had to go under center to play more of the action passing game just to give some time in Stafford.

The Rams’ offensive line was a major question mark at the start of the year, and based on their performance tonight, that’s not going to change any time soon.

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