Overview: This key matchup of two unbeaten teams in western New York should offer an excellent yardstick to measure where both teams are. The Rams come in with victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, two teams widely expected to contend for the post-season and perhaps even the Super Bowl when the season began (there are questions about whether the Eagles merit that classification at this point). Buffalo's wins are less impressive, having beaten a bad Jets team and a bad-to-mediocre Dolphins team. But 2-0 is 2-0, and you could easily make an argument for the Bills being at least the third-best team in the AFC at this point.
Coaching: A battle of the Seans, McVay vs. McDermott. Two of the games best young coaches and an offensive wizard (McVay) vs. a defensive guru (McDermott). Both are great, but we think McVay has been in the zone after a sup-par 2019.
Rams Defense vs. Bills Offense: The top concern for the Rams on defense is that they must do a better job of pressuring Bills quarterback Josh Allen then they did against the Eagle's Carson Wentz last week. That means somebody besides Aaron Donald needs to apply some pressure. The Rams pass rush was solid in an opening-day win over Dallas, with Leonard Floyd and Micheal Brockers joining AD in notching sacks. However, the pass rush was a virtual non-factor in the win over the Eagles, despite was widely believed to be a suspect Philly offensive line.
Part of the reason for that was a Philly game plan that featured many short passes, allowing Wentz to quickly get rid of the ball. The tendency for the Eagles to use two-tight ends on most snaps may have also been a factor. Whatever the reason, the Eagles seem to be the one NFL team that knows how to contain Aaron Donald, who now has a total of zero sacks in the last four matchups against the Eagles.
The good news for the Rams pass rush on Sunday is that they won't be facing the Eagles, but Josh Allen tends to hold the ball longer than Wentz has the ball. The bad news is that if they don't do an ampler job of pressuring the quarterback, they probably won't leave Buffalo unbeaten. Will the Rams Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley dial up a few more blitzes this week? It's possible. However, the Rams need to generate some pressure from the edge, and Donald needs to do what Donald usually does.
In this game, a marquee matchup is Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Bills wideout Stefon Diggs, a player, the Rams, knows all so well from his time as a Minnesota Viking. Cornerback Troy Hill, meanwhile, needs to keep speedy Bills wideout John Brown from going off.
It appears that the Bills may be missing another of Josh Allen's key weapons, tight end Dawson Knox, who did not practice all week and ruled out Sunday due to a concussion. The Bills rookie running back Zack Moss also has been ruled out with a toe injury. However, they will have running back Devin Singletary, averaging five yards per carries from the scrimmage line. The Rams will hope for another big week from inside linebacker Micah Kiser, the NFC Week Two Defensive Player of the Week last week. The Rams inside linebackers will need to step up again on Sunday to stop the run and contain Allen. If the Rams can pressure Allen, they can handle this offense. If not, it could be a long day.
Rams Offense vs. Bills Defense: This 2020 Rams offense has resembled a lot like the Super Bowl offense from 2018 and not so much like the unit that forgot about the running game last year. The Rams come in with the third-ranked rushing attack in the NFL, which makes their passing game a lot more effective. They will be without rookie Cam Akers, who started against the Eagles and seemed to be hitting his stride before leaving the game with an injured rib. Second-year running-back Darrell Henderson stepped up his game, and Malcolm Brown was stable after being "the guy" in the season-opening win over Dallas, where he notched over 100 yards in total offense.
The Bills run defense has been solid against the run thus far, and if they can make the Rams offense one-dimensional, they have an excellent chance to win this game. Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been outstanding in the first two games throwing only one interception (one that should have failed a overturn from a missed call of a blow to Goff's head against the Cowboys) vs. three touchdowns and a 108.5 passer rating. Goff offensive success is widely due to the play of his offensive line frequent use of the play-action pass and many rollout/bootleg type plays that have mostly kept him out of harm's way from opposing pass-rushers. He's even run the ball a few times, and while no one will ever mistake him for Lamer Jackson as a runner, he's more athletic than many people give him credit.
The Rams will be without starting left-guard Joseph Noteboom; he'll be replaced by second-year David Edwards, who played well when pressed into a starting role last season. Edwards will face off against Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who notched five sacks last season and is a crucial run-defender. Edwards needs to hold his own against Oliver, at least.
Rams tight end Tyler Higbee is an emerging star, having scored three touchdowns against the Eagles last week. The Bills defense gave up 130 yards to the Miami Dolphins tight-end Mike Gesiki the previous week. Bills safeties Micah Hyde and Jordon Poyer may have their hands full with Higbee.
Another battle worth watching is Rams wide receiver Robert Woods vs. Bills cornerback Tre' Davious White. White is an elite cornerback, while Woods is coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and would probably love nothing more than a big day against his former team.
Special Teams: Neither team has been great in this area thus far this season. Rams punt returner Cooper Kupp gave the Eagles hoped with a fumble just before the half last week. He's always been sure-handed as a receiver, so hopefully, that is only "one of those things." We also question whether you want to risk injury to one of your best receivers as a punt returner, but that is another subject for another time.
Rams placekicker Sam Sloman has not been terrible, but there is room for improvement. A missed field goal and one extra point, and he tends to kick low-trajectory balls at times, let's say the jury is still out on Sloman. The Bills placekicker is another rookie, Tyler Bass, a sixth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft from Georgia Southern. Bass has yet to miss any kicks but has looked a little shaky at times.
The Rams do have the world's best punter in Johnny Hekker, who can also play a little quarterback on fake punts and do it very well. Even so, the Rams special teams have not been all that we would like in the first two games. Buffalo's haven't been great either, but we will give them a slight edge here.
Final Prediction: Oddsmakers say the Bills by three. But the Bills has had to work to beat a couple of less than stellar opponents. This game could go either way, but we are going to check the box for the Rams.
Rams 27 Bills 24
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