The NFL usually likes to feature an intraconference matchup for the annual Kickoff Game featuring the defending Super Bowl champion at home to begin a new season. The last time it was AFC vs. NFC was in 2016, when Carolina visited Denver in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. This year's opener on Thursday, Sept. 8, could be a preview of Super Bowl 57 as Buffalo visits the champion Los Angeles Rams, who opened as 1-point favorites with a total of 52.5 points.
It's the first time in this game for both franchises. Defending Super Bowl champions are 13-3 in past Kickoff Games. Last year, the Tampa Bay Bucs beat the visiting Dallas Cowboys 31-29 in a thriller. Defending Super Bowl champions are 19-3 in Week 1 since 2000 (14-7-1 ATS). The past eight defending Super Bowl champions are 7-1 in Week 1 (5-3 ATS)
The Bills are currently +700 favorites to win Super Bowl 57 and the Rams +1200 to repeat. Buffalo QB Josh Allen is the +700 favorite for NFL MVP and Rams counterpart Matthew Stafford is +1600.
One obvious storyline is future Hall of Fame linebacker Von Miller facing off against his former Rams teammates. There's a chance that LA wouldn't have won Super Bowl 56 without the midseason trade for Miller from Denver. In eight regular-season games with the Rams, he had only five sacks but added four in the playoffs, including two of Joe Burrow in Super Bowl 56. Buffalo signed the 33-year-old to a six-year, $120 million free-agent deal. The Rams wanted him back but had little salary-cap space.
These teams last played in Week 3 of the 2020 season in Buffalo. The Bills won 35-32 despite blowing a 28-3 third-quarter lead. Tyler Kroft caught the winning 3-yard TD pass with 15 seconds remaining. Allen threw for four scores and rushed for one. Jared Goff was the Rams QB then.
Because the Bills and Rams are opening three days earlier than all the other NFL teams, they are allowed to open training camp three days earlier on Saturday, July 23.
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