Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Run game – Buffalo’s run game hasn’t been very consistent, but it’s been markedly better than Baltimore’s. The Bills are averaging 135 yards per game on the ground (4.4 avg.) while the Ravens are mustering a bit more than half that total per game (77.3) as they average just 2.6 yards per carry.
Best advantage – First down offense – Despite the struggles in the run game of late, Buffalo ranks fifth in the AFC in yards per play on first down (5.27). That number could help create more manageable situations on third down, especially knowing that Baltimore is 26th in the league in yards allowed on first down (6.1).
Bills Number 1 Must
Win on third down – Buffalo has to win more on third down on both sides of the ball. They rank 27th in third down defense, allowing conversions 46 percent of the time. On offense they rank 28th in third down conversions managing just a 31 percent success rate.
Buffalo’s defense appears to have the tougher task this Sunday. No other offense in the NFL has more third down conversions than Baltimore (24). In addition there is only one other NFL defense (Cleveland - 24) that has given up more third down conversions than Buffalo (23)
Book end pass rushers
The Ravens lost pass rusher Paul Kruger to Cleveland in free agency this offseason, but may have upgraded in the end landing Elvis Dumervil following a contract snafu in Denver. Teamed with Terrell Suggs on the other side, the two have been disruptive through the first three weeks of the season.
The pair has combined for five sacks, nine quarterback hits and 19 quarterback hurries. It’s a true pick your poison combination for opponents. According to ProFootballFocus they currently rank third and fifth in the league among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Replacing Ray Lewis was thought to be a daunting task for Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. It wasn’t. He plucked veteran MLB Daryl Smith out of free agency and the 10-year stalwart has been ultra-productive in the middle of the Baltimore defense. Leading the team with 25 tackles, Smith has also contributed 1.5 sacks, five pass breakups and last week ignited the team with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown.
In Week 1 it appeared that the Ravens defense was not going to be the same after the loss of several veteran performers in the offseason when they surrendered seven touchdowns to Denver. Since then Baltimore has not allowed anyone in the end zone. The Ravens held Cleveland and Houston to field goals in a 14-6 and a 30-9 victory the past two weeks.
Taking their stingy defense a step further, Baltimore has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season.
Offense still adjusting
Most outside observers thought it would be Baltimore’s defense that would be going through the greatest period of adjustment early this season after all of their player losses on that side of the ball. Through the first three games it’s been the offense that has struggled to get out of the gate. With the trade of WR Anquan Boldin, the season-ending injury to TE Dennis Pitta, the Week 1 injury to WR Jacoby Jones and the Week 2 injury to RB Ray Rice, the Ravens offense has struggled.
Baltimore’s offense is ranked 30th in the league and their average yards per carry mark of 2.6 ranks 31st in the NFL. Outside of Torrey Smith, Joe Flacco is trying to get in sync with new faces like Marlon Brown, Dallas Clark and returning vet Brandon Stokley.
The Bills have faced a heavy dose of strong legged kickers the first three weeks. It’s prevented their kick returners from having much of an impact on field position. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker will be no different. Tucker has fared pretty well on kickoffs this season as he currently has the third-most touchbacks this season (12). His touchback percentage (75%) also ranks sixth in the NFL.
Beat you in September
Under head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have been one of the most successful NFL clubs in September. Baltimore has the league’s best record in the first month of the regular season since 2008 compiling a record of 14-5 for a .737 winning percentage. Over that span the Ravens have averaged 25.7 points per game while giving up just a shade over 17 (17.1).
Quote of the Week
“The thing about this game is you’ve got to move on and I think my teammates and especially coaches they’ve really been pushing me to move on. This game is about making plays when you look at it. The more opportunities you get, the more times you get thrown at, the more opportunities to make a play so you’ve got to accept the challenge.”
Stat of the Week
The Bills lead the league in goal-to-go defense. Buffalo has allowed opponents just one touchdown in four goal-to-go situations this season for a touchdown efficiency of just 25 percent.
Milestones in reach
Fred Jackson is fifth in the AFC in total yards from scrimmage with 282.