For the second week in a row, the Los Angeles Rams face an opponent in the early time slot and travel to the East coast as they go on the road to face the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are currently leading the AFC East – a battle of two unbeaten teams. The game will be on Sunday, Sep 27 at 1:00 PM ET.
First Stance: Offense
The wins for the 2-0 Bills have come with division rivals, and the offense was a large part of that. Wins against the Jets and the Dolphins may not appear to be a true test, but any time you can win against division rivals can be tough to come by. The connection between quarterback Josh Allen and recently acquired Stefon Diggs seems to be clicking as the Bills have been getting it done through the air. Josh Allen is first in yards gained (729), fourth on yards/attempt (only slightly behind Russell Wilson, Jared Goff and Lamar Jackson), is just over 70% for completions and has 6 touchdowns(tied for 2nd with 4 others and behind Russell Wilson with 9 total). Diggs accounts for ~33% of that yardage, averaging 14.9 yards per catch. The running game, however, has yet to get on track and the Bills will be looking to bring it to life to keep Josh Allen from being under constant pressure.
The Rams offense looks to be getting its stride as the red zone woes in week one seem to have been resolved. They are moving the ball by committee, making it hard to lock down any part of the offense. Jared Goff is on pace for his best year with career highs in completion percentage (69%) and yards per average at 9.3; the offense appears to have the perfect game planning this early in the season to win matchups.
The edge goes to the Rams on offense although a quick start could be at risk as they will have been on road and in the early game two weeks in a row.
Second Stance: Defense
Both organizations have defenses that can win a game; The Bills have had more success in the first two weeks against the run and the Rams have had more success at stopping scoring with having yet to give up 20 to an opponent and it can be argued that the offensive opponents against the Rams have been better, at least on paper. Expect Jalen Ramsey to match up with Stefon Diggs in this game – in week one, he mostly tracked Amari Cooper and while Cooper had his catches, he did not score and in week two, Ramsey kept his matchup from having a catch. Allen is going to need to find another target and if the running game does not emerge, the Rams defense will win this matchup. Advantage Rams.
Third Stance: Special Teams
Neither team has really stood out on special teams. Both have rookie kickers and, this early in the season, it will be a journey to tell how good they are (or are not). The Bills kicker, Tyler Bass, is 60% on the season (3 of 5) and the Rams Samuel Sloman is 75% (3 of 4) with neither being tested outside of 39 yards to this point (both of the Bills misses have been 30-39 yards). DVOA has both in the bottom half (Bills at number 20 and the Rams at number 29). The Rams have Johnny Hekker as one of the best punters in the game but have still not completely figured out the return game. Too many pros and cons to land on one side or the other, this will be a push for this week.
Fourth Stance: Intangibles
For this matchup, there are some storylines that are worth mentioning:
- Coaching – Sean McVay versus Sean McDermott (dubbing this the “Sean McBowl”). Both got their head coaching starts in the 2017 season, with McVay winning his division twice and getting to the Superbowl, McDermott being relegated to contending with the dynasty of Brady/Belichick. McVay coaches in arguably the toughest division in the NFL. McDermott is free to chase the AFC East championship now that the dynasty appears to be crumbling. McVay wins the battle to this point in their NFL careers with the only doubt coming from those in New York that can see Canada through the mist.
- Trend/Mojo – The stock is up for both teams as they are undefeated and a tie is unlikely, so one will go down. Push here, but this will be settled on Sunday.
- Key injuries: As of posting, Key injuries:
- Questionable for Week 3: Del’Shawn Phillips (LB, quadriceps), Matt Milano (OLB, hamstring), Tremaine Edmunds (MLB, shoulder), Dawson Knox (TE, concussion), Niles Scott (NT, undisclosed), John Brown (WR, foot), Taron Johnson (CB, groin), Ed Oliver (DT, knee), Zack Moss (RB, toe)
- Injured Reserve, expected return for week 4: Isaiah Hodgins (WR, shoulder), Jon Feliciano (G, shoulder), Josh Norman (CB, hamstring)
- Physically unable to perform: Tommy Sweeney (TE, foot – expected return week 7)
- Los Angeles
- Weather: Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High around 80F. Winds SW at 15 to 25 mph. – perfect weather for football!
Travel will take a toll on the Rams with back-to-back road trips, but not enough to cause them to lose a game. Expect this one to be tight but the Rams will prevail with a score of 27-17 and the streak of keeping opponents under 20 points will continue.