The Buffalo Bills open the 2022 NFL Season against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams when they visit SoFi Stadium s on Thursday, September 8th. With all eyes on Buffalo as they begin a journey that fans believe will end in Super Bowl 57, here are five storylines to watch for.
Super Bowl or Bust
The Bills enter 2022 as the consensus favorites to not only represent the AFC in the Super Bowl but to hoist Vince Lombardi’s trophy in Arizona on February 12th, 2023. To do so they will have to get through a loaded list of AFC quarterbacks including defending conference champion Joe Burrow, stalwarts Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Derek Carr, Justin Herbert, and new faces Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, and Deshaun Watson.
I don’t believe Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott would trade Josh Allen, the MVP favorite (we’ll get to that soon), for any of the aforementioned arms, and with their franchise QB in the fifth year of his rookie deal, he is still giving them the budget flexibility to make moves (we’ll get to that shortly as well). If they can make it past their conference, they will then take on the best of the NFC, which is currently their season-opening opponent. So, add SB favorites + an MVP favorite + a loaded roster, and the Bills have no “on paper” excuses to not host a parade at the end of the campaign.
If you’ve followed my work on Cover1 you’ve read/heard me say that the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting has become a de facto ‘most outstanding quarterback on a good team’ ballot. That remains true and is good news for the Bills and Josh Allen. JA17 is currently the favorite to be named MVP and for good reason – he is coming off of a season where he threw for over 4,400 yards and 36 touchdowns, and what sets him apart is he added 763 rushing yards with six more TDs on the ground.
Allen also retains his main weapons in Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and Dawson Know while adding a toy in rookie running back James Cook. This is even more noteworthy when you consider that two-time reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers lost Devonte Adams and other threats to the crown Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson lost top targets in Tyreek Hill and Hollywood Brown respectively. The former No. 7 overall pick can establish himself as the front-runner in the season opener, which is also the NFL opener.
All eyes of voters, fellow players, and fans will be on the Bills vs. Rams clash on Thursday. If Allen can go out and light up the scoreboard as we saw during the playoffs, his march to the MVP award gains massive momentum.
Ken Dorsey’s offense
We will finally get to see what new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey plans to do with Josh Allen and all the weapons the Bills have on offense.
Yes, we saw him call plays in the preseason, but those schemes were weaker than the coffee at your favorite discount hotel’s breakfast buffet. I thought the Bills bringing in O.J. Howard was a sign that Dorsey wanted to run more 12 personnel with Howard utilized as the blocking TE that could make a play or two if needed. Brandon Beane gave Howard his walking papers on cutdown day moving forward with Dawson Knox and fellow plus-athlete Quintin Morris as the top two targets at TE.
With that, we may not see much of a difference in personnel usage from last year where Buffalo ran out one or fewer tight ends 92% of the time, the highest rate in the league. Couple that history with the weapons they have (Diggs, Davis, McKenzie/Crowder/Shakir, Know, Singletary/Cook/Moss) and it makes sense to keep deploying mostly 11 and 21 personnel which Brian Daboll did 80% of the time last season.
Lastly, we know when Dorsey was an insanely prolific QB in college he ran a high-powered offense in Miami. That team would spread the love all over the field with Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, and more. In short, I’m excited to see how Dorsey decides to distribute the snaps and what packages he utilizes most with his first true game in charge of arguably the best offense in football.
The one hole in Buffalo’s offense the last couple of years was not having a running back they could utilize to a high level out of the backfield, so naturally, Brandon Beane snagged National Champion running back James Cook in the second round of the draft. Beane also locked down the protection in front of Josh Allen with Rodger Saffold listed as the starting left guard with David Quessenberry rotating at right tackle.
Switching to defense, Beane bolstered that front by bringing in defensive tackles Tim Settle and DaQuan Jones. Buffalo also traded up in the first round in the most recent draft to acquire their CB2 of the future in Kaiir Elam with the No. 23 overall pick. So, there are a lot of new faces to get excited about when Buffalo takes the field next Thursday. Did I forget anyone? Oh, they also signed the NFL’s active sack leader, two-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl 50 MVP, seven-time All-Pro, and future Hall-of-Famer Von Miller.
The Bills at Rams might not just open the season but could close it.
When you get two great teams playing, there are sure to be some prime-time matchups and this game doesn’t lack for showdowns that I am looking forward to. As mentioned above, the Bills added to their offensive line and they get the ultimate test early blocking Aaron Donald. Stefon Diggs is arguably the best receiver in the NFL and Jalen Ramsey is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. Let’s hope they lock horns (get it? Buffalos and Rams have horns) more than once.
Von Miller will get a chance to hit Matt Stafford after seeing him in a red jersey during practice throughout the second half of last season. What little nuances does he know about that o-line to add to his career 115.5 sacks? On the sidelines, it will be fun to see the brain of Sean McVay and his offense go up against the brains of Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier and their defense.