The proverbial notion of a “Tremendous Bowl preview” tends to be thrown a couple of bit loosely – in any case, who amongst us had the Los Angeles Rams “internet hosting” the Cincinnati Bengals with the Lombardi Trophy at stake final February? It was a well timed reminder that any interconference matchup staged previous to Columbus Day qualifies as, ahem, a Tremendous Bowl preview.
However Thursday night time’s kickoff sport of the NFL’s 2022 common season, pitting the Rams in opposition to the Buffalo Payments, legitimately felt like a matchup – earlier than the sport anyway – we would witness once more in Tremendous Bowl 57. So whereas, admittedly, Buffalo’s 31-10 trampling of LA is just the primary of 284 video games that can finally decide who’s enjoying for rings early subsequent 12 months in Glendale, Arizona, the matchup felt a bit weightier as does its significance because the season’s inaugural matchup.
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With that said, on to the next-level winners and losers:
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Von Miller: Seems he picked the fitting horse, the two-time Tremendous Bowl winner – traded from the Denver Broncos to the Rams halfway via the 2021 season and proving fairly the distinction maker for LA – appears like he would possibly simply be the ultimate piece to Buffalo’s Lombardi puzzle after opting to signal with the Payments for six years and $120 million through the offseason. Miller recorded two of Buffalo’s seven sacks and positively appears just like the man who would possibly’ve made all of the distinction within the ultimate 13 seconds of regulation within the Payments’ heartbreaking time beyond regulation loss to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs in final season’s divisional playoff spherical.
Josh Allen: Buffalo’s fifth-year quarterback wasn’t good in his 2022 debut, however he confirmed why he is a favourite to win league MVP honors. Allen related on his first 10 passes on the way in which to 297 yards and three TDs and ran for one more rating whereas main the group with 56 speeding yards. If he is that good on opening night time in opposition to the group simply fitted for rings, scary to assume how he is likely to be cruising in a number of months.
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Buffalo’s title aspirations: The Payments gained a pair of AFL titles in 1964 and ’65, however the franchise is best recognized for its 0-for-4 Tremendous Bowl run from 1990-93. However they staked their declare because the group to beat Thursday, thumping the champs on the street, and would possibly simply be the outfit their beloved Mafia has been ready for all these years.
SoFi Stadium: The house of the Rams (and Chargers, type of) has turn into each bit the crown jewel showcase venue proprietor Stan Kroenke and the league envisioned when the franchise returned to Los Angeles six years in the past. The celebs – and a pair of beautiful groups – have been on show for the 2022 NFL opener, simply as they have been for the ultimate sport of the 2021 season, Tremendous Bowl 56.
Odell Beckham: Neither gone nor forgotten, the free-agent wideout recovering from the ACL tear he suffered whereas with the Rams in Tremendous Bowl 56 was a part of the celebratory environment earlier than kickoff. Although he is unsigned, the Rams have maintained OBJ’s locker at their follow facility … suggesting he is likely to be again finally.
Dwayne Johnson: The Rock returned because the pregame hype man simply as he was for Tremendous Bowl 56 … although we most popular the maroon get-up from Tremendous Sunday.
NBC’s new A-Workforce: Mike Tirico has changed Al Michaels as play-by-play man for “Sunday Evening Soccer” and was as crisp as ever working with analyst Cris Collinsworth. Not the primary time the duo has labored collectively, however the consolation degree and easy broadcast bode nicely. Collinsworth even invoked the time period “hoosegow,” a Michaels favourite, throughout a fourth-quarter stoppage as a slick tribute to his former companion.
Sean McVay and Les Snead: The Rams’ coach/GM tandem, who’ve shepherded 62 wins since McVay’s hiring in 2017 (second most in NFL over that span), formally had their contracts prolonged via 2026 on Thursday morning. McVay, 36, is the youngest head coach to win a Tremendous Bowl.
McVay: He had been 5-0 in Week 1 with a mean margin of victory of just about 17 factors. No extra. The Rams’ 21-point loss was the second-worst suffered by a defending Tremendous Bowl champion within the first sport of the following season.
Preseason holidays: Seven mixed turnovers, a number of drops – you, Tyler Higbee – and an particularly spotty efficiency by the Rams suggests McVay, regardless of his previous success in openers, may need to rethink not enjoying the majority of his roster within the preseason. Buffalo ought to get sharper, too, however the snaps Payments starters obtained in August definitely did not damage.
Matthew Stafford: Picked off thrice and buried for minus-49 yards on these seven sacks, this wasn’t the way in which the Rams QB must be nursing a balky elbow – although his arm appeared simply high quality.
Secondary targets: Payments and Rams receivers mixed for 55 receptions – however almost 40% went to Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs (8 catches, 122 yards, TD) and LA’s Cooper Kupp (13 grabs, 128 yards, TD). Tremendous Bowl 56 MVP Kupp will particularly want extra assist going ahead – significantly from new WR2 Allen Robinson, who caught only one ball Thursday.
Nick Scott: Any time a defender will get trucked by a quarterback – even one as imposing as Allen – he’ll hear about it within the movie room within the coming days. Bummer for the Rams security.
Matt Araiza: The previous San Diego State punter wasn’t at this sport, did not need to be at this sport and should not have been on Buffalo’s roster so long as he was. The Payments, who by no means punted Thursday, hopefully bought a recent reminder that they by no means ought to’ve compromised their tradition – particularly for a man they did not even want.
Joe Noteboom: The Rams’ new left deal with … has work to do if he is to make individuals neglect about retired group chief Andrew Whitworth.
James Prepare dinner: The Georgia product and brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Prepare dinner, the Payments rookie fumbled on his first (and solely to date) NFL carry. Prepare dinner is anticipated to be an X-factor for Buffalo’s offense this season … however not this type of X-factor.
Rams run sport: Simply 52 yards on 18 carries, with Cam Akers failing to realize an inch. Unsatisfactory.
Miller’s haircut: Nah, Von. No less than present some creativeness and go for a heptagon subsequent time.
‘Tremendous Bowl preview’: Again to the place we began. If this was certainly the precursor to Tremendous Bowl 57, let’s hope the Rams are higher ready as we definitely needn’t revert to the championship blowouts that plagued the Eighties and ’90s.
Comply with USA TODAY Sports activities’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.