If it is too early to call the Los Angeles Rams’ visit to face the Buffalo Bills a marquee matchup, then at least it is an early-season showdown of teams maximizing their potential.
The teams from opposite coasts and conferences will meet Sunday sharing a common 2-0 record that has them atop their respective divisions.
The Bills reside atop the AFC East, already a game ahead of the new-look New England Patriots and two up on the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
The Rams have company atop the NFC West, but it is a division that is not unfolding as planned. The San Francisco 49ers are 1-1 and in the thick of some serious injury issues. The Rams are instead tied for first place with both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.
The Bills’ 58 points scored after Week 2 are third most in the AFC behind the Las Vegas Raiders (68) and the Baltimore Ravens (71).
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen leads the NFL with 729 passing yards, thanks to the fourth most completions (57). His six touchdown passes are tied for second most, while he has yet to throw an interception.
Allen was 24 of 35 for 415 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-28 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday. Allen earned AFC Player of the Week honors for his performance.
“(The receivers) are willing to do whatever it takes to win the game,” said Allen, who called his award this week more of a team honor.
“They understand that we’re going to throw the ball and they’re going to have their opportunities and they’re going to take advantage of their opportunities.”
Stefon Diggs’ transition to his first season at Buffalo, after five years with the Minnesota Vikings, has gone well with a team-best 16 receptions for 239 yards and a touchdown. John Brown has 10 catches for 152 yards and two TDs, while Cole Beasley has nine catches for 128 yards.
The Rams’ pass defense has been tested to the tune of 82 attempts by opposing QBs, tied for sixth most in the NFL. It seems less a sign of a perceived weakness and more the result of early leads against both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Rams have surrendered 486 passing yards, around the middle of the pack in the NFL, but just 6.2 yards per attempt (third best) and a 73.2 opponents’ passer rating (second best).
Linebacker Micah Kiser was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording a team-high 16 tackles with a forced fumble in a 37-19 victory over the Eagles on Sunday. His 17 solo tackles are the most in the NFL.
While Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff is showing Pro Bowl potential again after a down 2019, the Rams’ rushing attack has been instrumental to their hot start.
With Todd Gurley now at Atlanta, the Rams have the third most rushing yards in the NFL at 344. They also have the second most rushing attempts behind a trio of backs: Malcolm Brown (29 carries, 126 yards), rookie Cam Akers (17, 52) and Darrell Henderson Jr. (15, 87).
Henderson had 81 yards and a touchdown on Sunday after Akers left the game early with a rib injury.
“As a back, once you get your rhythm and your momentum, you feel like nobody (can) stop you,” Henderson said. “… My mindset for every game is you never know when (opportunities are) going to happen.”
Akers (ribs) and Brown (finger) did not practice Wednesday. Cornerback Darious Williams (Achilles) also was out. Left guard Joe Noteboom (calf) is expected to go on injured reserve.
The Bills had a full injury report Wednesday. Players who did not practice: Beasley (hip/thumb), cornerback Taron Johnson (groin), tight end Dawson Knox (concussion), rookie running back Zack Moss (toe), defensive tackle Ed Oliver (knee) and linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips (quad). Players limited: linebackers Tremaine Edmunds (shoulder) and Matt Milano (hamstring) and cornerback Tre’Davious White (shoulder).