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Rams will play Buffalo Bills in NFL season opener: Five takeaways on matchup

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (left) and quarterback Matthew Stafford celebrate after Super Bowl LVI.
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (left) and quarterback Matthew Stafford celebrate after Super Bowl LVI. Their aim to repeat starts with a home game against the Buffalo Bills.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Super Bowl champion Rams will play the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, Sept. 8, at SoFi Stadium in the NFL season opener, the league announced Thursday.

The game will kick off at 5 p.m. PDT and air on NBC.

Five takeaways from the matchup:

Super Bowl preview? The Rams are trying to become the first team to win consecutive Super Bowls titles since the New England Patriots achieved the feat in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

The Rams added Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson and six-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner to a star-studded team that features quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

CBS says the Rams will play the Denver Broncos and new quarterback Russell Wilson on Christmas Day at SoFi Stadium. A full league schedule is coming.

The Bills appear on the verge of breaking through in the AFC and reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since losing the last of four consecutive Super Bowl losses in the 1993 season.

Quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs star on offense, and edge rusher Von Miller — who helped the Rams win Super Bowl LVI — is now leading the defense.

Super Bowl LVII will be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

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Matthew Stafford-Josh Allen duel will be must-see TV: After starring during last season’s Super Bowl run, Stafford, 34, can fashion a potential Hall of Fame resumé.

The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft is among the greatest at leading comebacks — see last season’s NFC divisional-round victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady — and has passed for nearly 50,000 yards. Last season, he passed for 41 touchdowns, with 17 interceptions.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) celebrates with teammates.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) had Buffalo on the brink of a trip to the Super Bowl last season.
(Joshua Bessex / Associated Press)

Allen, the seventh pick in the 2018 draft, ascended to stardom in 2020 and needs a Super Bowl ring to join the top tier of league’s elite quarterbacks. Last season, he passed for 36 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions, and ran for six touchdowns.

Allen is so dynamic the NFL changed its overtime rule because he was denied a possession in a divisional-round loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Von Miller chasing the trifecta: The Rams traded for Miller, a future Hall of Fame edge rusher, at midseason in 2021. He made several significant plays, and then starred during the postseason run to victory in Super Bowl LVI.

That’s why the Bills — seeking to get over the top by getting past Mahomes — gave Miller a six-year contract that includes $51.4 million in guarantees, according to overthecap.com.

Miller has won Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos and Rams.

In the opener, he will begin a quest to join former NFL linebacker Matt Millen as the only players to earn Super Bowl rings with three different franchises. Millen won with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers and Washington.

Creating that close-to-perfect NFL schedule takes as many as 4,000 computers and five people for a result that makes “everybody equally disappointed.”

Kupp and Stefon Diggs hauling in cash: Last season, Kupp won the NFL offensive player of the year award after leading the league in catches (145Z), yards receiving (1,947) and touchdown catches (16). Kupp was targeted 191 times.

Diggs caught 103 passes for 1,225 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was targeted 164 times.

In April, Diggs signed a four-year extension that includes $70 million in guarantees. That helped set the stage for an offseason of huge contracts for NFL receivers — and what could be a record payday for Kupp before the season opener.

Bills Mafia at SoFi? The Rams last season experienced 49ers fans invading SoFi Stadium.

It’s probably a reach to expect the Bills noted fanbase to travel across the country for more of the same.

But with six months to plan ...


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