Week 4 Preview: Ravens vs. Bills

| September 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Week 4 Preview: Ravens vs Bills

Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

At

Buffalo Bills (1-2)

Sunday at 1pm, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY

ravensLook no further than these two teams if you want proof that the NFL is a week-to-week league. The Ravens got dismantled by Denver in Week 1, squeaked by the Browns scoring only 14 points in Week 2, and then dominated the Texans in their last game. The Bills lost on a last second field goal to the Patriots in Week 1, had a come from behind win against the Panthers in Week 2, and lost to the Jets last week.

This is what makes the NFL so hard to predict. A team could look like world beaters one week and then look like the worst team in football the next. It is hard to predict a game based off of how the teams played last week – if that were the case, the Ravens would win this game in a landslide. But it’s not, so nobody knows how this game is going to shake out.

In the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens have been one of the most successful franchises in the league. However, every Ravens fan knows another thing that has defined the team in the Harbaugh era is laying the proverbial egg on the road. Seemingly every year the Ravens lose to one or more bad teams on the road and look awful doing it. While I think the Bills are not a pushover like in previous years, this is a game the Ravens should win… but will they?

Here is my take on the game:

Ravens offense vs. Bills defense

The Ravens scored 30 points last week against the Texans, however, only one touchdown came via the offense and that was a 1 yard run by Bernard Pierce.  The Ravens offense looked awful in the 1st half and they finished the game with only 75 yards on 31 carries for an average of only 2.4 yards per carry.  The offensive line seemed to get beat on every play and Joe Flacco was forced to run for his life or get rid of the ball much sooner than he wanted.

With all that being said, the Ravens faced one of the best defenses in football last week and I expect them to be much better this week. Ray Rice is practicing and may play Sunday. Even without him, I expect the Ravens to move the ball on offense. The Bills are 30th in the NFL in rushing yards, allowing 155 yards per game. In addition to that they allow more than 260 yards per game in the air and were torched by Geno Smith, Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill last week.  The Bills have given up at least 20 points in every game this season.  Whether Rice plays or not, expect the Ravens offense to click and move the ball and score some points.

Advantage: Ravens

Bills offense vs. Ravens defense

Much like their defense has not given up less than 20 points per game, the Bills offense has not scored less than 20 points in any game this season. The Ravens have not allowed a touchdown in their last two games and have not allowed a rushing touchdown all season. The Bills average 135 yards per game on the ground while the Ravens defense is only giving up 74.

CJ Spiller might be the biggest home threat in the league and, despite being banged up, will likely play Sunday. The Ravens need to contain Spiller and Fred Jackson and try to make EJ Manuel beat them. Manuel has looked pretty good so far this season. If he can beat the Ravens without much help from the running game, so be it. But, the way the Ravens defense has looked in the last two weeks, I suspect he will struggle.

Outside of Spiller I am not sure there is a player on the Bills offense that creates a mismatch against the Ravens defense. Stevie Johnson is a solid wideout, but Lardarius Webb has shut down much better receivers before so he should be able to handle Johnson. The Ravens defense looks to be on the top of its game and it could be a long day for the Bills offense.

Advantage: Ravens

Special Teams

Let me be the first to admit it, I don’t think Tandon Doss is any good. I must admit though that his punt return against Houston was impressive and was the turning point in the game.  If Doss can continue to be a factor in the return game this Ravens team will be even tougher to beat. Special teams often decides game and the Ravens special teams was one of the best in the NFL last season and last week was big step in the right direction in coming closer to that this season. Both teams have a very solid kicking game but the Ravens have done more in the return game this season.

Advantage: Ravens

Prediction

Anyone who is a Ravens fan knows that when it looks like the Ravens should win a game easily on paper they generally struggle and either lose or win it in a close one. In the last few seasons the Ravens have lost to the likes of the Jaguars, Eagles and Titans on the road. All of these teams were among the league’s worst squads that season and in all of the games the Ravens offense was totally lethargic. Nobody can really pinpoint why this happened (although I think a lot of people will gladly blame Cam Cameron), so Sunday will be a good barometer to see if the days of laying an egg every year on the road are over or if they will continue.

The Bills are only a few plays away from being 3-0, but are also just a couple plays away from being 0-3. While the Bills are improved from previous seasons, this is still a game the Ravens should win. I expect the Ravens to lean heavy on the run and the Bills will have a hard time stopping it. Pierce and Rice (if he plays) should have big games and Joe Flacco will make enough plays to get the win. It will be close but the Ravens will come out on top.

Ravens 23 Bills 14

Follow Marco on twitter @mromanell and Southbmore.com @southbmore1

 

About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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