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Carucci Take2: High expectations put Bills in prime-time spotlight

WGRZ Bills/NFL Insider Vic Carucci says Buffalo's selection to kick off the 2022 season at the L.A. Rams speaks volumes about the respect this team now commands.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When you’re expected to be great, you’re treated accordingly.

The NFL and its television network partners fully anticipate the Buffalo Bills to be a serious contender for the Super Bowl. Not just a team that gets there but that has an excellent chance of winning it all.

That’s the main reason the Buffalo Bills, as many who follow them closely believed would happen, wound up with the league maximum of five prime-time games on their regular-season schedule, plus a game at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

The one that speaks the loudest is the Sept. 8 Thursday night clash with the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. That game, which can be seen on WGRZ, kicks off the entire 2022 NFL season.

The Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions, so they were always slotted to be the host of the season-opener. The question was, who would face them?

The Bills made the most sense because, first, they are widely viewed as one of the best teams, if not they best, in the league; and, second, they signed edge rusher Von Miller away from the Rams in free agency. However, the NFL could have also gone with San Francisco, the Rams’ NFC West rival and the team they defeated in the conference championship game to reach Super Bowl LVI.

That the Bills were the pick speaks volumes about the massive respect they command from coast to coast.

So, too, does the Bills’ Week 2 home-opener, Sept. 19 against the Tennessee Titans, on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

After their Week 7 bye (which, coming in the middle of the season is the kind of placement projected elite teams tend to enjoy), the Bills face Green Bay on Sunday Night Football at Highmark Stadium. That game also can be seen on WGRZ.

The Bills will have an Amazon Prime Video game at New England on Thursday, Dec. 1, and make a second appearance on Monday Night Football on Jan. 2.

Two home games, against Miami and the Patriots, could end up in front of national TV audiences as well, with both being listed as TBD (Dec. 17 or 18 for the Dolphins and Jan. 7 or 8 for New England).

On the surface, the toughest part of the Bills’ schedule looks to fall in the first month and a half.

After opening against the Rams, the Bills face the Titans at home, then go on the road the following two weeks to take on Miami and Baltimore. After a home game against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bills are at Kansas City. And after the bye is the Sunday night game against the Packers.

It’s a big-boy schedule, the kind the teams that generate the sort of sky-high expectations the Bills have managed to do in the past two years get.