Matthew Stafford has lost it, Josh Allen is already MVP, Von Miller gives Buffalo a Super 'D': Bills-Rams overreactions – Sporting News

Saying the Super Bowl 57 favorite Bills made a statement in Thursday night’s 2022 NFL season-opening domination over the Super Bowl 56 champion Rams would be an understatement.
Buffalo lived up to the preseason hype and then some with a 31-10 victory n Los Angeles. The Rams lost for the first time in Week 1 under coach Sean McVay and their sound defeat will have more outsiders thinking hangover than repeat.
Josh Allen’s passing duel vs. Matthew Stafford became a one-sided affair. The Bills’ ace defense, now led by former Ram Von Miller, made more big plays than Aaron Donald and the Rams did.
MORE: Josh Allen & Co. dominate reigning Super Bowl champions Rams to kickoff 2022 season 
Based on that result, here’s making sense of the greatest overreactions that are certain to come out of such a marquee and lopsided kickoff game:
Stafford’s shaky performance (29-of-41, 240 yards passing, TD, 3 INTs, 63.0 passer rating, 5.8 YPA) raised more questions about just how healthy he was to start the season after needing an offseason procedure on the elbow of his (right) throwing arm. At 34, Stafford also is coming off extending himself for the first time in the playoffs, playing the maximum 21 games in 2021-’22.
There was some real rust and dust, seen most in Stafford struggling in his connection with Allen Robinson, the prized free-agent receiver the team decided to pair with Cooper Kupp. Stafford was very Kupp-dependent (also see Kupp-exclusive) for his production with a thin wideout corps missing Van Jefferson (knee). Stafford also saw left tackle Joe Noteboom and the pass protection become an initial disaster (seven sacks allowed) minus retired future Hall of Famer Andrew Whitworth.
MORE: What’s wrong with Matthew Stafford? Rams QB’s mysterious elbow injury could be a recurring story in 2022 
Beyond the Rams-related reasons for his absolute clunker — something not past Stafford given he tied for the league lead in interceptions last season — the non-future Hall of Fame QB was facing an even nastier No. 1 Bills’ pass defense.
Stafford needs to take advantage of a couple “get-well” games in a row against the Falcons and Cardinals before the next stiff defensive test vs. the 49ers. McVay will adjust to get the Rams’ downfield passing game back on track, play-action or otherwise, and Stafford should go back to executing better after a mini bye to rest a little more before Week 2.
Allen was the odds-on favorite going into the season to stop Aaron Rodgers’ back-to-back run with the Packers. Allen is definitely the early front-runner with his stellar performance (26-of-31, 297 yards passing, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 112.0 passer rating, 9.6 YPA, 10 rushes for 56 yards, TD) before the other top contenders take the field on Sunday and Monday.
Allen even had his pro version of a Heisman moment via a viral stiff-arm and a brilliant plane-breaking effort to help put the game away with his legs. That Allen is nothing new from the rising superstar we’ve seen since 2020. He just keeps raising his accuracy as a passer along with his toughness as a runner.
Anything Allen can do, however, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and a host of young guns also can do to have a prolific and dazzling answer. Don’t forget about Rodgers himself defending his honor and the potential of Tom Brady going full GOAT with one final MVP.
MORE: Jalen Ramsey continues to pay for calling Josh Allen ‘trash’, gives up perfect passer rating in Rams loss to Bills
The key for Allen is consistency and continued efficiency. Everyone knows only one interception was on him vs. the Rams but in the end cutting down the turnovers and delivering in many more big games will be important. Everything is in place for Allen to win MVP, but the competition will be fierce from wire to wire.
Miller did it in Denver and Los Angeles, first in his prime and second during his current career revival. There’s no doubt the future Hall of Fame edge rusher chose to sign with Buffalo to chase a third ring with a third team.
Miller didn’t waste any time making his impact felt on the Bills, much like after coming over at midseason to spark the Rams’ defensive-fueled Super Bowl run. Miller had two of the seven sacks with Greg Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa, Boogie Basham, Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver also joining the fun of bringing down Stafford.
The Bills excel at rotating rushers on their defensive front to keep them fresh to go after the QB for Leslie Frazier and Sean McDermott. Given Miller is 33, being calculated with his snaps at end from the get-go is smart and he unselfishly rolled right into that plan to make himself and all the rest better in getting pressure.
MORE: Von Miller turns in two-sack performance in Bills debut: How pass rusher exposed Rams en route to win 
Buffalo is stacked on the front four for sure with Miller in the mix. It also has fine linebackers in Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano and one of the league’s best safety combinations in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. The weakness against the Rams was the inexperience at the outside corners, which Stafford, when not under duress, tried to exploit with Kupp, Robinson and others.
Although Miller looks like an awesome addition, the real game-changer to watch for the Bills’ defense is the healthy return of top cornerback Tre’Davious White. White will miss the first four games on the reserve/physically unable to perform list as he still needs more time to recover from the torn ACL he suffered last Thanksgiving.
Without White, Taron Johnson is their most reliable cover man and there’s a lot being put on rookies Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam. Dane Jackson, who also had to play a key role vs. the Rams, is a third-year seventh-rounder.
It was a good sign that Jackson matched Basham and Poyer with an interception of Stafford. But White can be to the Bills’ defense again what Ramsey is to the Rams and give Frazier and McDermott more scheming and personnel fun. There’s no doubt White was missed during the playoff run that stopped in the divisional round vs. the Chiefs.
MORE: Why was Odell Beckham Jr. on the sidelines for Rams vs. Bills? Free agent WR sparks rumor mill at start of 2022 NFL season 
The Bills’ undressing of the Rams was more about how talented and well-coached they are as an established AFC powerhouse, rather than the Rams looking like a lost cause in the top-heavy NFC. Buffalo needed to regain confidence it could beat the best after the heartbreak in Kansas City, and thanks to a complete effort around Allen and Miller, it got that and a lot more.
All the Bills need to do now is keep bringing it in the first half of the season vs. the likes of the Titans, Ravens, Chiefs and Packers.


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