Orchard Park, NY – In a typical season starting with a second round game against the No. 3 seeds at no. 5 seeds would probably be considered a more favorable match.
But after the Pittsburgh Steelers were blown away by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night, the AFC’s divisional round draw of the Buffalo Bills against the Baltimore Ravens should prove to be a much more difficult task.
Including their victory over rival Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, the Ravens (12-5) have won six straight games since the start of December. The Steelers won their first 11 games, then lost four of their last five regular season games before being beaten by the Browns, who won their first playoff game since 1994.
The Bills (14-3) found themselves in a brawl with the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, escaping with a contested 27-24 victory. Buffalo hosts Baltimore Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. on CBS.
Here are some initial thoughts on the game.
Top two QBs from the 2018 class clash in this one
Lamar Jackson won the NFL MVP award last season and Josh Allen will likely finish as a runner-up this year behind Aaron Rodgers. The two 2018 QBs have categorically claimed the top two places to rank all quarterbacks in this class. Allen had a better season in 2020, finishing with 46 total touchdowns and nearly 5,000 total yards. Jackson totaled 1,372 yards and 33 total touchdowns. The result of this match could very well come down to who plays the better of the two.
What the bills did against Lamar in 2019
Buffalo devised a perfect game plan for Jackson in their Week 14 2019 game. They forced him to beat them with his arm, and he was finally able to do it. He threw three touchdown passes and the Ravens won, 24-17. But Jackson as a runner was limited to just 40 yards on 11 carries. If the Bills could have generated a real offense in the game, the result could have been very different. Weeks later, when the Titans beat the Ravens in the first round of last year’s playoffs, Logan Ryan said Tennessee used the plan the Bills laid out in their game against Baltimore to set up against Jackson. in this game.
What does the line mean?
Buffalo opened as a -2 1/2 favorite according to betonline.ag. This is the number that books use when they are unsure of what to expect. The Bills performed in front of the fans for the first time in the first round and there is still potential for the fans in the divisional round. But these plans are not yet finalized. The Ravens and Bills are two of the hottest teams in the league and Baltimore’s defense against Buffalo’s offense will be quite a game.
Ravens on a 6-game winning streak – and they were different
Since Jackson returned after a fight with the coronavirus, the Ravens haven’t lost and their defense has been a whole different unit. They were allowing 333 yards per game in their first 11 games, but they’ve reduced that number to 302 per game in the last five games and their victory over the Titans on Sunday. Speaking of the Ravens’ big win, they put down the Titans after Ryan Tannehill gave Tennessee a quick 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the final 45 minutes, the Ravens held the Titans to just 76 yards and three points. Jackson was causing a sensation with his legs against the Titans. He was a different player on the six-game winning streak. He’s won four touchdown games in the team’s last five regular season wins.
What is different this time around for bills?
Allen was almost a different player the last time these two teams met. He was completely contained by the Ravens last season, handling just 146 passing yards on 46 attempts. Baltimore blitzed Allen a ton and he made it 2 of 17 passing the 24 folds where he faced pressure. He was sacked six times when the Ravens brought in the blitz. Allen is likely to face pressure again this time around. The Ravens are built to blitz up front and they even added Yannick Ngakoue on the deadline to bolster their rush. But Allen now has the NFL’s top receiver in Stefon Diggs, who elevated the Bills’ passing offense to one of the best in the league. How the Ravens choose to attack Allen will be one of the most intriguing storylines in this game.
Should Bills Mafia be worried about the match?
There are no easy games this time of year. The Ravens are solid on both sides of the ball, but the Bills have the most dynamic and dangerous attack. Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier have an extra day to prepare for the Jackson and Baltimore offense and have likely learned a few lessons about their run defense during a tough outing against the Colts. The Ravens ‘defensive front will challenge the Bills’ offensive line, but Allen has answered the bell every time this season when he has faced adversity. Returning home with the nervousness now out of their system after the franchise’s first playoff win this century, the Bills should be able to play both sides of the ball against the Ravens.
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