12/08/19 Ravens vs Bills
The Baltimore Ravens take their eight-game winning streak to up-state NY to take on the up and coming Buffalo Bills. The Ravens are coming off a very impressive win at home against the 49ers where they prevailed in a very physical game. Likewise, the Bills are coming off an equally impressive Thanksgiving Day win against the Cowboys where they beat them handily in the Big D, giving up just 15 points to what is one of the more high-powered offenses in the league. The Bills at 9 wins and 3 losses have to be one of the NFL’s big surprise stories this year and their second year QB Josh Allen is playing very solidly. Josh Allen, a 2018 draft first-round pick (7), is showing great improvement in his second year and is starting to look like the talent that the Bills hoped he would be. Josh Allen is a talented player and I expect him to play for Buffalo Bills for many years to come.
The Ravens are sitting at the top of every Power Ranking list you can find. And It is not just that they have an eight-game winning streak and a 10 and 2 record, there are four other teams with identical records. Ravens sit at the top in part because of the caliber of the teams that they have beaten over the past two months as well as the manner they have done that. They have defeated three of the four teams that currently have 10 and 2 records, and they have beaten those teams by a combined score of 87 to 56. Additionally, since losing to Cleveland in late September, five of the eight Ravens wins have been against playoff bound teams. The Ravens schedule has been really tough and they have prevailed in spite of that.
Many of the talking heads have been saying the Ravens are due to have a letdown game. In some respects, I am inclined to agree with them. It’s not uncommon for an NFL team to have a bit of a letdown after playing a very tough opponent and getting the win. The Ravens burned a lot of calories last week and it was a physical game that resulted in a handful of banged up players. Keep in mind too, that Buffalo has the benefit of a few extra days of rest – which at this time of year makes a world of difference. No question that the atmosphere in Buffalo will be playoff like, because beating the Ravens would not only be a signature win for them but also keeps them in the hunt to win the AFC East Division out right. For those of you unfamiliar with Buffalo, they have great fans and they know how to make noise. Name me another US city that could endure four straight years losing in the Super Bowl and still have their fans show up at the stadium.
The Buffalo Bills have won nine games because they are a very good team, and they have a solid running game, and similar to the Ravens have a quarterback who can run. Josh Allen is 6‘5“tall and 230 pounds, and when he gets going, he is quite a load to bring down. If you don’t believe me take a look at the highlights of his last game in Dallas. Allen averages over 35 yards per game and the Ravens pass rush will have to account for him as he is apt to scramble for big gains if you let him out of the pocket. Additionally, the Bills have two solid running backs in Singletary and Gore both of which have over 500 yards on the ground this year. The Bills defense is ranked 3rd in the league which is a key reason why they are enjoying such success this year. They have a very good defensive line that can get after the QB, very fast linebackers that get to the ball, and an excellent secondary. There is no blatant weakness in this defense and Lamar will have his hands full dealing with this team.
Here is what has me worried about this game. Last week against 49ers the Ravens defense got exposed for their inability to stop runs coming off the edge. I have no doubt that the Bills watched that tape and want to take advantage of that this Sunday. Additionally, the 49ers kept Lamar in check in the second half with their mush rush and you would have to think the that the Bills will try to replicate that approach. The Ravens are 5 and 1 on the road this year and they know what it takes to beat teams on their home turf. They will need their A game to beat the Bills at home and like most NFL games this game will be won or lost in the trenches.
As you might imagine the Ravens are favored Sunday and will likely be favored for the remainder of the season. There is a lot on the line for both teams. Most years the AFC playoffs goes through Foxboro, but if the Ravens can win out the regular season schedule the playoffs will go through Baltimore. How great would that be! So, the Ravens have complete control of their destiny – just keep doing what you have been doing and get the win on Sunday. The winning recipe is no secret – run the ball – burn the clock – protect the rock – and keep your opponent out of the end zone. The Ravens are the much better offense and I expect them to outscore the Bills. I don’t think it will be easy for the Ravens but they have enough talent to move the ball both on the ground and the air – even against the best defenses. One of the things that the Ravens have done well this season is making the right in game adjustments on both sides of the ball. Big credit needs to go to Coach Wink and Coach Roman on knowing how to get the job done in these high-pressure games. Sunday is going to be a hard-fought game, and I think the Ravens O line will rise to the occasion and keep Lamar clean in the pocket as well as push the ground game. The defense will keep the Bills in check and likely force some mistakes from Allen. I like the Ravens winning this one but don’t think they will runaway with it. I am seeing a nail biter much like last week with the Ravens barely covering the 5 ½ point spread. The over/under is set at 44 and like the under here.
Score Ravens 26 Bills 20
Turnovers Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 195 Bills 112
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 135 Bills 167
• DeAnthony has a return of 30 yards plus
• Smith gets an interception
• Andrews leads receivers with 6 catches for 63 yds
• Refs make terrible calls
Keys to the Game
• Force turnovers and limit drives
• Harass Allen, force mistakes and don’t let him run
• Score TDs in the red zone