If the rams they’re playing Denver on Christmas day – as announced by CBS Tuesday morning – that almost certainly means defense Super Bowl Champions will face Buffalo in the Kickoff Opener on September 8 at SoFi Stadium.
By any indication, the NFL had focused on the Bills or Broncos playing the Rams in the traditional Thursday night game that opens the season.
The league has not confirmed the Kickoff Opener match, with the release of the full schedule arriving Thursday night.
Buffalo was knocked out of the playoffs last season in an AFC Division thriller in Kansas City.
So impactful was that Bills-Chiefs game, a 42-36 shootout in which Buffalo was denied possession in the extra period that the NFL changed its rules on overtime for the post-season.
Starting this season, even if the team that catches the ball first in extra time scores a touchdown on that possession, the opponent will have a chance to respond.
Whenever it takes place, Bills-Rams will feature quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and that of Bufalo Josh Allentwo of the best passers-by in the league and the further wrinkle of the new Bill Von Miller’s passing runner. He was a key component of the Rams’ Super Bowl run.
Buffalo had the No. Defense 1 in the standings last season, allowing 272.8 yards per game, a whopping 33.1 yard gap ahead of second-placed Carolina.
This will mark the first Kickoff Opener played in California and only the second on the West Coast, as Seattle hosted the Thursday night lore in 2014.
It was in 2002 that the NFL kicked off the season with just one prime time game. Two years later, in New England, the league began the tradition of the reigning Super Bowl champion hosting the opener.
The league made an exception in 2019 to celebrate its 100th season, opening with the NFL’s oldest rivalry with the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers.
Buffalo, which has never won a Super Bowl, so was never the visiting team in the Kickoff Opener.
Throughout the planning process, the NFL has been heavily considering pitting the Rams and Denver for the opening, especially in light of interest in the new Broncos quarterbacks. Russel Wilson. Dallas and San Francisco were also candidates to open against the Rams.
In week 1, the Bills are likely to be left without cornerback Tre’Davious White, as he is unlikely to recover sufficiently from a serious knee injury sustained in late November. The team used a first-round pick on April 28 over Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam.
Since returning to Los Angeles in 2016, the Rams have played and lost twice against Buffalo: a Defeat 30-19 at the Colosseum in 2016it’s a 35-32 defeat in Buffalo in 2020. But both games were with Jared Goff as the Rams quarterback, not Stafford.
In the most recent bout, Allen pitched for four touchdowns with an interception. The Rams recovered from a 25-point trailing in the second half of that game, but Allen saved his team with a three-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left.
Buffalo led the game 28-3 midway through the third quarter.
The Rams came close to equaling what would be the third biggest comeback in NFL regular season history.
“We were only a step away, and unfortunately this is not good enough in this league,” Rams confidence John Johnson said at the time. “The whole game was a weird game.”