Football is back this Thursday and my word has the football schedulers put together one heck-of-a first week. The Super Bowl defending Los Angeles Rams will take on one of the best in the league in the Buffalo Bills to get the season started. With both teams boasting some of the best talent in football, these are some of the key matchups the nation will be watching come tomorrow night.
The Rams kick off the season against the Bills this Thursday.— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 7, 2022
Will McVay make himself 6-0? pic.twitter.com/CqgsoClY67
Jalen Ramsey vs. Stefon Diggs
Two of the most passionate personalities will duke it out on the gridiron this Thursday in a matchup that has only ever been featured twice. Third time might be the charm for Diggs, but thus far Ramsey has had his number—allowing two receptions on four targets that has totaled 9 yards and a touchdown.
Stefon Diggs’ scouting report on Jalen Ramsey: “He’s a good ass player.” pic.twitter.com/pbQ9zb32LP— Julianne Pelusi (@JuliannePelusi) September 4, 2022
Times are different since there last match, however. Josh Allen is now considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league and Diggs is coming off another superb season that saw him put up 1224 total yards, his second 1200+ yard season in-a-row. Other resources will have to be used to cover up the Bills talented weapons in Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder and Dawson Knox. If the game plan is to feed a different pass catcher early in the match it might mean big opportunities for Diggs to make his presence felt later in the night.
Under second year defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Ramsey has been utilized in the star position and not draped over star wideouts as much as he has been in years passed. On Thursday night we will get a good glimpse of what his role in the system will become, but there is a good chance Ramsey will be playing everywhere on the field. His adaptive play-style under Morris last season earned him the ninth position on this years top-100 players in the NFL.
The times that he lines up in front of Diggs though, all eyes will be on two of the best in their respective positions. Will Ramsey be able to keep Diggs quiet, or will Diggs have the last laugh?
Sean McVay vs Leslie Frazier
Sean McVay has not lost a single season opener as a head coach and has outscored his opponents for a combined 83 points—that is not even mentioning the +8 turnover differential his opponents have suffered. With a whole offseason to plan the Rams Super Bowl winning coach is unstoppable and this year he will be strolling into the season opener with arguably his greatest set off weapons yet with the league’s best receiver in Cooper Kupp, a matchup nightmare in Allen Robinson, and a supporting cast that includes a healthy Cam Akers, Tyler Higbee, and fourth year receiver Van Jefferson. Matthew Stafford will be entering his second year under McVay with an even better connection than they had the year prior with a full offseason for the quarterback to improve his rapport with all of his pass-catchers. With the offense bursting at the seams with top-notch talent it will be a hard task for any defense in the NFL...
The @RamsNFL are 5-0 in Week 1 under Sean McVay.— NFL (@NFL) September 4, 2022
Can the Super Bowl champs make it 6-0?
: #Kickoff2022 -- Thursday 9/8 at 8:20pm ET on NBC
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/7rgVki9T0a pic.twitter.com/c4FHx7VsTz
But defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier may just have the talent and the scheme to contend. His defensive unit was one of the most elite in the league in 2021 when they finished as the leaders in points per game (18.3) and yards per game allowed (289.2 YPG). They boast a talented roster that includes All-Pro safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, cornerback Taron Johnson, and of course a legendary talent in Von Miller. One of the few glaring issues with Buffalo’s defense was their inability to get after the opposing quarterbacks, but Miller’s departure from the Ramily to Bill’s Mafia may have all but fixed the problem. The unit has the potential to be even better than a year prior.
Unfortunately for Buffalo is the injury that will keep Tre’Davious White on the sidelines. First-round pick Kairr Elam and sixth-round pick Christian Benford will attempt to hold their own against Stafford in their first regular season of football. With a veteran cast of wideouts, McVay will likely exploit the mismatch and attempt to pick on the rookies as much as possible.
Leslie Frazier says the #Bills are going to "mix it up" with Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford Thursday night.— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) September 5, 2022
This plan comes with Tre'Davious White on PUP to start season.
Frazier explains how that decision is actually a benefit to the defense. pic.twitter.com/FHGLLO2UX9
The season opener to the 2022 NFL season will truly be a chess match between two of the strongest units in the league coached by two of the best.
Aaron Donald vs Josh Allen
Aaron Donald in his last game vs Bills (2020)— PFF LA Rams (@PFF_Rams) September 6, 2022
91.6 pass-rushing grade
2 sacks pic.twitter.com/l4qRGtmV3A
The last time that Aaron Donald and Josh Allen lined up across the line from each other it is safe to say Donald won the matchup, albeit the Bills QB still walked away with the game winning drive. The Rams future hall-of-famer finished with two sacks against the Bills big-bodied quarterback, but it was the way in which Donald absolutely man-handled him both times that was most impressive. “He’s one of one and I think everybody knows that,” Allen explained in a press conference on Sunday. “Scary to watch the film of him and knowing that you’ve got to go in with a plan” (2:37).
Two seasons later Allen is not the same quarterback he was when Donald faced him last. The fourth year QB finished last season with not only 4407 yards in the air and 36 touchdowns, but he also put up his best statistical year on the ground with 763 yards rushing. On 122 attempts he averaged a staggering 6.3 yards per carry. During Monday’s press conference Donald described Allen as (2:15) “strong... accurate. He can do some stuff, make some stuff off-direction and make a big play down the field. And he don’t go down easy. When you play against a quarterback like that you got to be prepared to understand how to come after him.”
Donald is now coming into his ninth season and has only appeared to get better. Much has been the same for Allen who is now entering his fifth NFL season. It is a safe bet that Donald will get through his blockers no matter how many a team sticks in front of him, the real question is will he be able to bring Allen down this time around?
What are some key matchups you will be watching this Thursday? Let’s discuss in the comments below!