Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills (+ 3 ½)
Over/Under @ 44
The last time the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills squared off was at M&T Bank Stadium on October 24, 2010 in a seesaw battle.
The Bills took a commanding lead in the second quarter behind Ryan Fitzpatrick (29 -43-382-4 TD-2 INT) who seemed to connect at will with WR’s Steve Johnson (8-158-1TD) and Lee Evans (6-103-3TD). Yes, that Lee Evans!
However the Ravens came storming back with 24 unanswered points to take a 34-24 lead only to have the Bills rally to tie and send the game into overtime. The Ravens eventually pulled it out after Ray Lewis stole the ball from tight end Shawn Nelson at the Bills 41, followed by a Billy Cundiff walk off 38-yard field goal.
But today, the Ravens are a much different team as are the Bills.
Offensively the Ravens haven’t had much rhythm primarily because of their inability to get the running game going and quarterback Joe Flacco’s lack of rapport with an unfamiliar receiving corps. The Bills’ defense could prove to be the perfect cure for both despite the daunting presence of Mario Williams (6 tackles, 4 ½ sacks v. Carolina…4 tackles, 0 sacks in the Bills two other games).
Last week against the New York Jets the Bills apparently were in a generous mood giving up 149 yards on 27 carries to the great Bilal Powell while Geno Smith carved up the Buffalo secondary going 16-29 for 331 yards.
Seriously? Powell? Smith?
To hold serve against this potential Ravens offensive breakout party, the Bills will send rookie read-option QB E.J. Manuel against the Ravens 15th ranked defense, one that hasn’t given up a touchdown over the past 2 games. The Ravens aren’t exactly foreign to the read-option approach having gone against the likes of Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick last season and Tyrod Taylor quite regularly during practice.
Look for the Ravens to contain Manuel and the dangerous CJ Spiller with edge setters Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw and bracket the dangerous Steve Johnson. Dean Pees after taking away the Bills two homerun hitters will force Manuel to put together long drives against a defense that will continually disguise its coverages with multiple looks across the front seven.
Many see this game as a close and generally ugly game. It very well could get ugly but it won’t be close as the Ravens easily capture the franchise’s first ever victory in Buffalo.
PREDICTION: Ravens 27, Bills 13
Last Week: 0-1 v. Winner, 0-1 v. Spread
Season Total: 1-2 v. Winner, 1-2 v. Spread
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