Thursday marks one week until the Los Angeles Rams open the 2022 NFL season with a home game against the Buffalo Bills, and that is obviously going to be one of the top-three SoFi games on the schedule this year. But L.A. does have a load schedule, including road dates against the San Francisco 49ers (as always), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers, the New Orleans Saints, and the L.A. Chargers...
Wow, just wait until we do the road version of this article.
Many Rams fans are wondering right now, “The season is in a week? Let’s see that schedule again!” Here it is:
Here are the top three games to see at SoFi Stadium.
Los Angeles Rams vs Buffalo Bills, Week 1, September 8, 2022, 5:20 PM PT
It is the first ever meeting between Matthew Stafford and Josh Allen, even though this felt like a matchup that could have—or should have—been seen in this past Super Bowl.
Week one preview: Bills vs Rams.— NFL Muse. (@NFL_Muse) August 29, 2022
• Last matchup was in 2020 where the Bills defeated the Rams: 35-32. Josh Allen threw for 311 yards and 4 touchdowns. (One rushing TD as well.)
• Josh Allen and Matthew Stafford have never faced off.
┃#BillsMafia #RamsHouse pic.twitter.com/7DypPdIBxh
Many fans now consider Allen to be the best quarterback in the NFL. The 26-year-old finished second in MVP voting in 2020, then followed up with 36 touchdowns and 763 rushing yards, with six more touchdowns, in 2021. Allen then had nine touchdowns, no interceptions, and over 130 rushing yards in two playoff games.
But it takes more than a quarterback to be the early odds-on favorite to win the AFC.
The Bills offense features Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis at receiver, Dawson Knox at tight end, Devin Singletary/Zack Moss/rookie James Cook at running back, and an offensive line that includes left tackle Dion Dawkins and the addition of former Rams guard Rodger Saffold.
That’s half of the story, as Buffalo allowed the fewest points and yards in the NFL under defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, including ranking first against the pass. That changed a little bit in the playoffs though, as Patrick Mahomes went 33-of-44 for 378 yards and three touchdowns in Kansas City’s last-second divisional round win.
Bills-Rams will set the tone immediately for the NFL season and being there in person for the SoFi opener is as good as any opportunity to see a game in L.A. this season.
Los Angeles Rams vs Denver Broncos, Week 16, Christmas Day at 1:30 PM PT
A familiar, often-losing foe returns to face the Rams even after he was traded to an AFC West opponent. And he will be handsomely paid too.
The Broncos signed Russell Wilson to a five-year, $245 million contract extension on Thursday, making him the second-highest paid quarterback in the league based on annual salary and full guarantee. Will Denver regret that move?
If they do, it probably won’t come this season and the Broncos are expecting to be in the thick of the AFC race when they see the light at the end of the tunnel in late December at SoFi Stadium.
Are the Broncos now able to compete with the Chiefs and Chargers after acquiring Wilson? That will depend on how the defense and supporting cast performs under first-time head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the former Packers offensive coordinator who just barely missed crossing paths with Sean McVay on Jon Gruden’s coaching staff with the Bucs in the aughts.
The Broncos also employ defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, a longtime assistant on the Rams under McVay.
Though they were not nearly as stout as the Bills, the Broncos finished third in points allowed in 2021 and gave up the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league. Denver added edge rusher Randy Gregory in the offseason and are hoping for breakout seasons by Bradley Chubb, Patrick Surtain II, and maybe rookie edge rusher Nik Bonitto.
Offensively, the Broncos could have this season’s rushing leader depending on how many opportunities they give to Javonte Williams. Wilson will also have Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Albert Okwuegbunam, and a young offensive line that Denver hopes gels together quickly.
It makes Christmas at SoFi Stadium a star-studded event this year.
Los Angeles Rams vs San Francisco 49ers, Week 8, October 30 at 1:25 PM PT
Nothing unusual here or unexpected. It’s just the 49ers. It’s also a rematch of the NFC Championship game and who knows, maybe a rematch of Stafford against Jimmy Garoppolo, as San Francisco locked in their backup quarterback for the time being with a restructured contract.
What the 49ers are hoping for instead is just a very nice season by second-year quarterback Trey Lance, but that is a road that nobody has traveled before. Not even Lance, a player with just 319 college passing attempts (at the FCS level) prior to 71 passes as a rookie and an “uneven” training camp/preseeason performance this past month.
Fewest career pass attempts for a first-round QB since 1976— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) April 28, 2021
Cam Newton 292
*Trey Lance 319
Michael Vick 343
Other than that, the 49ers don’t really plan to look much different this year than they did last year or the year before that. The biggest addition is cornerback Charvarius Ward, formerly of the Chiefs, and a pair of new safeties after parting with Jaquiski Tartt and placing Jimmie Ward on IR.
The Rams had lost six straight games to the 49ers prior to the NFC Championship. Both sides will be expecting to win. One side, as usual, will come away fantastically disappointed and this rivalry will be worth watching on October 30—two days before this season’s trade deadline.