Top 3 Individual Matchups
Eric Wood vs. Haloti Ngata –Ngata is being billed as a Ravens team MVP candidate and head coach John Harbaugh said he's playing his best ball. The Pro Bowl defensive lineman is at end in the Ravens 3-4 and has added some pass rush moves to his arsenal. Wood is a gamer, but might need some assistance from Geoff Hangartner at times with this matchup.
Leodis McKelvin vs. Anquan Boldin –The veteran receiver has provided immediate impact to Baltimore's passing game leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs. McKelvin, who is expected to start in place of Terrence McGee, will need to muscle up with the physical Boldin to throw off the timing of his routes.
Cordaro Howard vs. Jarrett Johnson –The undrafted rookie will make his first NFL start against a formidable defensive front and will face veteran OLB Jarrett Johnson most of the time. Johnson was limited in practice this week with a back injury, but is a blue collar player that likes to win physical battles. Howard has appeared in all five of Buffalo's games this season.
Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage –Pass defense – The Bills have an experienced secondary that's capable of breaking out with takeaways at any time. Buffalo is surrendering less than 150 yards of passing offense a game to rank 10th in the league. Baltimore has improved their talent level at receiver, but the Bills have capable coverage defenders.
Best advantage -Kick return – Buffalo's 12th ranked return unit with C.J. Spiller can be an intimidating group and Baltimore has had their share of problems. The Ravens are allowing more than 27 yards per kick return ranking 27th in the NFL.
Bills Number 1 Must
Win third downs –Buffalo has struggled considerably in this area on both sides of the ball. They have to be decidedly better in converting on offense and getting stops on defense. The Bills have to at least play the Ravens to a draw in terms of third down conversions to have a chance in this game, and that's going to be difficult against the league's top ranked third down defense.
Additional weaponsThe Ravens passing game has typically been a complement to Baltimore's power running attack, but with the addition of veteran receivers Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap have some help. More importantly Joe Flacco has more options. Boldin was the marquee free agent pickup and has delivered thus far with four touchdowns in the first six games.
Stingy 'D'The Baltimore defense has had a reputation for being a stifling unit that shuts the door on opponents. Over each of the past two seasons the Ravens have ranked third in the league in points allowed (16.3 and 15.3). This year is proving no different. Through the season's first six weeks, the Ravens are allowing 15.8 points per game, good for the second best in the NFL.
To illustrate just how stingy Baltimore has been on defense, they have yet to surrender a touchdown off a turnover. Of their nine giveaways this season the Ravens have surrendered all of nine points (3 FGs).
They also have the league's third best red zone defense allowing touchdowns just over 35 percent of the time (35.3%).
Ngata thingPro Bowl DL Haloti Ngata is playing the best football of his career according to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Playing end in Baltimore's 3-4 alignment, Ngata not only remains supremely effective against the run, but has also added pass rush moves to his skill set in an effort to generate more pressure on the quarterback. Ngata currently leads the team in sacks with four in the first six games.
The Oregon product has demanded double team attention and still effectively stands his ground and makes plays.
Takeaway droughtAs good as Baltimore's defensive unit is one area where they have been lacking is in the takeaway category. Thus far this season the Ravens have just five takeaways, tied for a league low for teams that have played six games with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Part of the problem has been the absence of veteran ball hawk Ed Reed, who has been on Reserve/PUP since the start of the season. He returned to the practice field this week, but his status for Sunday's game is in question. With the Ravens heading into their bye after their Week 7 matchup with the Bills, Baltimore may choose to hold him out to give him two more weeks to prepare for a regular season setting.
Big legRavens kicker Billy Cundiff has always had a big leg, but that leg strength has been especially effective on kickoffs this season. No other kicker in the league has a better touchback percentage than Cundiff, who already has a NFL best 14 touchbacks on 25 kickoffs. It has helped to keep the average drive start of opponents to less than the 24-yard line (23.9), which is seventh best in the league. Cundiff needs just two more touchbacks to set the franchise mark for touchbacks in a season.
Ravens nestBaltimore has proven to be a tough side to top when they're playing at home. Since 2000, they own the NFL's third-best regular season home record going 60-22 in that span. The Ravens will go into Sunday's game with a five-game winning streak at M&T Bank Stadium stretching back to last year. They also put more points on the board on their home turf. In their last four home games the Ravens have averaged 33.5 points per game, and under head coach John Harbaugh when Baltimore scores at least 24 points they're 18-1.
Stat of the WeekIn his past two games Ryan Fitzpatrick has five touchdown passes and no interceptions and a passer rating of 103.5.
Quote of the Week"We have to be able to run the football and be able to convert on third down. That's really the biggest thing. We have to find ways to stay on the field, give our defense a break and move down the field and get points. That's done by staying in third and medium, third and short and running the football effectively."
--WR Lee Evans **
Milestones in reachFred Jackson is 129 receiving yards away from 1,000 in his career.
Andra Davis needs one start for the 100th of his career.
Brian Moorman needs one game played for the 150th appearance of his career.
Roscoe Parrish needs one punt return for a touchdown for the fourth of his career and sole possession of first place in franchise history.
Final noteSince 2008, the Ravens have allowed an average of 11.6 points per game at home, the NFL's best mark.