The NFL is back, and for the next five months or so, New Yorkers will hold their breath hoping for gridiron glory. The regular season kicked off last Thursday night with the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Los Angeles Rams, hosting New York’s team from the North, the Buffalo Bills.
In what was considered a marquee matchup, the Bills rattled the Rams 31-10, and put the entire league on notice. Buffalo came into Thursday’s meeting as this year’s Super Bowl favorites. After a strong showing last year, the team bolstered its defense by adding superstar linebacker Von Miller. Analysts and fans alike were excited to see how the Buffalo defense would handle the Rams’ fast-paced offense.
Despite the heavy expectations, Buffalo didn’t buckle. The Bills held Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to one touchdown, and intercepted him on three occasions. Not only did Stafford turn the ball over, he got hit. Buffalo sacked Stafford seven times and had him under pressure the whole night.
After the game, Coach Sean McDermott praised the stellar play of his pass rushers.
“I thought it was a great first game for those guys. I thought they did a great job in the run game and then to be able to get after the quarterback like we did down the stretch, in particular in the second half, I thought was effective,” McDermott said.
Buffalo’s offense had a strong outing as well. Quarterback Josh Allen threw three touchdowns, and rushed for one while dragging All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner along the way. The Bills weren’t perfect though. Allen threw two interceptions, while runningbacks Zack Moss and James Cook each lost a fumble. McDermott didn’t dwell on the turnovers.
“It’s just about winning one game, and that’s what it was. We came together in the second half. Played good complementary football… There’s still some things we have to work on in terms of taking care of the football,” said McDermott, according to The Buffalo News.
Buffalo started the season on a high note, and the other two New York teams will look to follow suit. It is a year of low expectations for both the Giants and the Jets. Neither team is projected to win more than seven games, let alone make the playoffs, according to CBS Sports. At the heart of their problems may be their respective passers.
Both teams suffer from quarterback turmoil. The Giants are in year four of the Daniel Jones experiment, hoping the UNC alum can finally fill Eli Manning’s shoes. Meanwhile, the Jets are without second year quarterback Zach Wilson until at least week four, according to Jets Coach Robert Saleh. The team will have to rely on Joe Flacco, the 37 year old former Super Bowl MVP.
Both teams start their season on Sunday, Sept. 11. The Jets host the Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco’s former team) at 1 PM, and the Giants begin their season in Nashville, facing off against the Tennessee Titans at 4:25 PM.