The Ravens travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills in Orchard Park, NY where temperatures are expected to be in the low 30’s with wind chill in the teens. Here are the Bold Predictions from the staff at RSR.
The last time these two teams met was on December 8, 2019 when the Ravens beat the Bills 24-17. Neither team generated much offense. The Ravens had 257 yards to the Bills 209. The Ravens sacked Josh Allen six times but they were penalized 9 times for 99 yards. It wasn’t the cleanest game.
As is usually the case during the postseason, the team that makes the fewest mistakes typically wins. Saturday night should be no different.
Much of the attention leading into this game is focused upon the quarterbacks. And that’s fair. But there are several other chess pieces in play for this game that will determine the outcome that aren’t named Allen or Jackson.
The elements will play a role and affect the passing game from 20+ yards given the expected wind gusts of 25-30 mph. That plays in the Ravens favor and should limit big strikes down the field. It will force Allen to attack with short to intermediate throws. The Ravens will need to tackle well and keep YAC to a minimum. And they’ll do a nice job with that.
Here’s what else you can expect…
• The Ravens rushing totals will outpace Josh Allen’s passing numbers.
• Stefon Diggs will attract most of the attention but Cole Beasley will be the bigger nemesis and lead the Bills with 105 receiving yards.
• Marquise Brown will match Beasley’s totals and see him another 10.
• Wink Martindale will show Allen many different looks early on and it will create confusion, particularly when Matt Judon or Tyus Bowser line up as rushers only to drop in coverage. The tactic will result in a first half interception by Bowser.
• The Bills will counter Wink by going no huddle to limit the substitutional packages. Buffalo will have some success with the approach but bog down in the red zone where they will be 2 of 5.
• The Ravens will go 3 of 4 in the red zone.
• In the end, the Ravens ability to run effectively keeps Allen off the field enough to leave Orchard Park with a DUB and a ticket to the AFC Championship Game.
Kansas City, here we come!
Ravens 27 Bills 23
P.S. Old Bay Wings > Buffalo Wings
— The Ravens have to flip the script against the Bills. One week after facing the Titans and their dominant ground attack with Derrick Henry, the Ravens have to deal with the Bills’ high-powered aerial attack led by quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
— Look for Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey to have a bounce-back game after struggling against Tennessee. Look for Humphrey to have a physical match up with Diggs or Cole Beasley. The Ravens cannot afford any breakdowns in the secondary or they’ll find themselves trailing by double-digits for a fourth consecutive playoff game.
— Allen is having an MVP-caliber season, throwing for a franchise-record 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns, along with 10 interceptions. He also has run for 421 yards with eight scores. Don Martindale will have a solid plan for containing him. Allen will get his yards through the air, but he won’t find much room to run.
— The Ravens lead the NFL with a 45.4 blitz percentage, including the playoffs, according to Next Gen Stats. Allen thrived under pressure and threw 15 touchdowns with two interceptions against the blitz this season. The Ravens will pick their spots and should find success with their pressure.
— Lamar Jackson won his first career playoff game with a 20-13 victory over the Titans in the wild-card round. He ran for 136 yards on 16 carries with a 48-yard touchdown. Jackson also completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 179 yards with an interception. Jackson is poised to keep the momentum going against Buffalo.
— Overall, the Ravens’ top-ranked rushing attack finished with 236 yards against Tennessee. That running attack will be key to keep Allen and the rest of the Bills’ offense off the field. Baltimore should be able to amass close to 200 yards on the ground against a Buffalo’s run defense, which was ranked 17th in the NFL.
— The Ravens show the poise they need and make enough plays to advance to the AFC championship for the first time since 2012.
Ravens 28 Bills 24
This is a tough game to break down and predict. There is a large range of possible outcomes. Ultimately, in order to steal a win on the road, it’ll be up to the Baltimore defense to slow down the Buffalo offense just enough and force a few mistakes. Stingy red zone defense and the ability to take the ball away when the opportunity presents itself are the major asks for this unit.
The Colts actually had a well-crafted game plan against Buffalo to pull off an upset, but they couldn’t take advantage of the mistakes Buffalo made. Baltimore needs to cash in, especially on offense, where red zone efficiency will be so essential.
Although a lot of focus is on Buffalo’s high-flying aerial assault, this is the type of game that really suits the Ravens’ rugged style of play on both sides of the ball. They will run the ball and force the Bills into a street fight.
I see Baltimore securing another landmark playoff victory in the divisional round to move on to the AFC Championship.
Ravens 33 Bills 27
I’ll keep it short & sweet: Two teams won playoff games last week for the first time since the first Clinton administration (Buffalo ’95, & Cleveland ’94). It would certainly be something for those squads to meet in the postseason, but the only way that’s happening is if the NFL institutes a Loser’s Bracket for next week.
Chiefs 40 Browns 28
Ravens 27 Bills 24
As the line suggests (Ravens +2.5) this game is shaping up to be a close one.
Will the Ravens be able to run the ball as effectively as they have the past few weeks against a rush defense that gave up 4.6 yards per attempt this season? Will the Ravens be able to slow down this increasingly potent Bills passing attack? I think the answers to both of those questions is, most likely, yes. However, the biggest concern for me, is mother nature.
Lamar crushed the narrative that he can’t win in the playoffs last week, but as the weather stands now (15-25mph winds and 1-3in of snow), I can see him having a lot of trouble both running and passing in Buffalo this week. Josh Allen is better equipped to have success in that type of environment and assuming the weather stays where it is, I think he’ll outduel Lamar…unfortunately.
If the Ravens are to win this game, it’ll be on the backs of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Although they’re certainly capable of controlling this game, I don’t think they will. It pains me to say it, but I like the Bills to win and cover (barely).
Buffalo is 8-1 ATS in their last nine games. The Ravens are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog and 7-0 ATS in their last seven games.
Bills 34 Ravens 31
This is going to be a good one.
Bills-Ravens in (a little) snow. It’s going to be a good one.
On offense, the Ravens find themselves up against a run defense that struggled to stop Indy’s rushing attack with 5.4 YPC. The Ravens have three players who average at least 5 YPC.
On defense for the Ravens, the Bills seem to be having some issues with their run game being led by Josh Allen with 54 yards against Indy.
With very little run game to respect, the Ravens can focus on the Bills’ receivers, led by Stefon Diggs. As Josh Allen has thrown more TDs against the blitz than anyone else this season, the Ravens’ D-Line needs to generate pressure without Wink sending the house.
I think the Ravens match up well against the Bills, especially if Weather Man Adam BMore is correct about the heavy winds and slight snow.
The Ravens will move on to the AFC Championship.
Ravens 30 Bills 18
The Ravens came out on top the last time they faced the Bills, also in Buffalo. But we can’t look at that game to predict how this one will go. These are not the same Bills, and these are not the same Ravens.
— In that 2019 showdown, the Ravens used lots of blitzes to fluster Josh Allen and it worked. This season, Allen is one of the best QBs in the NFL against the blitz. The key for the Ravens defense will be to get pressure on Allen with as few rushers possible. This should be done pretty easily, as the Bills struggle to move the ball on the ground, eliminating the need for stacked boxes. This is exactly the type of game Yannick Ngakoue is acquired for, and look for big games from the interior pass rush, especially Justin Madubuike.
— As for the Ravens offense against the Bills defense, I think the run game of Baltimore will feast. The Bills allow over 120 yards rushing per game, the 13th worst in the league.
— Buffalo has struggled to slow down mobile QBs. Ryan Tannehill, Kyler Murray and Cam Newton gave that defense fits earlier this season. Lamar Jackson is better than all of them, so there’s no reason to suggest he won’t be able to get it done on the ground.
— As much as we’re hearing about how bad the heavy wind and possible snow in the forecast would be for the away team, I think that actually hurts the Bills more than the Ravens. Buffalo’s offense is the closest thing the NFL has to Kansas City’s air-it-out style of play, which is an offense that could struggle in 30 mph winds. The cold and wind plays right into what the Ravens offense wants to do.
— As the clock hits zero in the fourth quarter, I think we will have seen an explosive and efficient Ravens rushing attack and Don Martindale be as creative as he’s ever been, holding Allen to under 200 yards through the air.
Ravens 24 Bills 17
Last season I went to the Buffalo game in Orchard Park. The fans were classy and treated us respectfully. In a division dominated by the Patriots for so long it’s hard not to be happy for the Bills and their fans. However, this week they are the Ravens’ enemies.
During the offseason Eric DeCosta made the addition of Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell in reaction to the Titans loss. It paid tremendous dividends as they held Derrick Henry to only 40 yards. Before the addition of those players DeCosta traded for Marcus Peters and had previously invested a significant amount of money into the secondary. I believe that was to deal with a team like the Chiefs and similar types of teams. The Bills fall into that category. Yannick Ngakoue is also a player DeCosta traded for to face quarterbacks like Josh Allen.
The Ravens’ cornerback depth may be one of the few in the league that can handle the depth of the Bills receivers. Also the Ravens’ depth of pass rushers at outside linebacker along with their versatility to cover matches up well against the Bills. The inside linebackers are the concern as far as coverage goes and the Bills may do their best to create some mismatches in coverage.
The Bills are no doubt a very tough team but the Ravens seem to match up against them very well. It remains to be seen how much snow or wind they will have in Orchard Park on Saturday but I hope that doesn’t play a major factor in the game. I’m not sure who that would favor. Honestly probably the Bills because Allen’s arm might be the best in the league.
— Lamar Jackson will run for over 100 yards and a touchdown. He will have two touchdown passes and throw for 200 yards.
— Mark Andrews and Pat Ricard will combine for a total of 8 receptions and 75 yards.
— Hollywood Brown will have four receptions for 50 yards all going for first downs.
— Jimmy Smith will have an interception.
— Yannick Ngakoue will have a sack and forced fumble.
— Derek Wolfe will have one sack.
Ravens 31 Bills 24
The Ravens opened their postseason campaign with a terrific victory over Tennessee, a game in which they managed well but dominated after the first 10 minutes. Now they head to Buffalo, one of the hottest teams in the league. The Bills remind me a lot of the Ravens last year, in the sense that they are red-hot and for many could be the scariest team left.
— Lamar Jackson will have to be the best player on the field Saturday night. He will toss for over 200 yards and two scores, but won’t be as electric on the ground this week, barely topping 50 yards.
— JK Dobbins won’t score this week, but will be strong in the rushing attack, as he and Gus Edwards will combine for over 100 yards and keep the chains short on 3rd downs.
— Mark Andrews will be the key to the offense for me. He was slower last week and needs to get back to his game-wrecking self in Buffalo. Expect a lot of throws his way early and over 8 catches in total.
— Defensively, I think Baltimore matches up well with Buffalo. They’ll need to get pressure on Josh Allen, but the secondary is strong enough to slow down the likes of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis.
— The difference for me is that Buffalo should have the men on defense to contain Jackson. The safety pairing of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer could be dangerous near the line of scrimmage, while the speed of Trumaine Edmunds could be a problem at the linebacker position. I expect the Ravens’ QB will struggle to get to the second level this week.
— I think this game will be extremely close, and will likely come down to which QB makes the big play late. The way he’s playing this year, I think Allen will make that play.
Bills 31 Ravens 27