Scouting Report - Bills-Ravens

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Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 - Eric Wood vs. Brandon Williams
Buffalo's Pro Bowl center has a stout adversary in Williams, who many thought should've received more Pro Bowl consideration in 2015. Difficult to move in one-on-one matchups, Williams may demand additional attention.

2 - Jerry Hughes vs. Rick WagnerThe Bills top pass rusher could be a handful for Baltimore's third-year starter at right tackle. Wagner will need to use his length consistently if he's going to win battles against Hughes.

3 - Sammy Watkins vs. Jimmy SmithSmith will be hoping that Watkins' personal game isn't at its absolute sharpest coming off a preseason in which he saw limited action. The Bills top receiver ranked third in the league in receiving yards over the last nine weeks of 2015 with 900 receiving yards.

**Bills Top 2 Advantages

Good advantage - Long ball **Tyrod Taylor was one of the most effective deep ball passers in the league last season. Evidence of that came in Buffalo's top ranking in points scored outside the red zone with a league-leading 194, more than 80 points better than the league average.

Best advantage - Run gameThe Bills return their entire offensive line from last season, which was instrumental in helping Buffalo lead the league in rushing and yards per carry average. Add in a healthy LeSean McCoy and Reggie Bush as a complement and speed to the edge and in the open field could pose a problem for a stack and stuff Baltimore run defense.

Bills Number 1 Must
Feed McCoy
Buffalo's feature back was supposed to be the engine that largely powered the Bills offense in 2015. A hamstring injury prevented that plan from materializing last year. Now fully healthy and primed for a bounce back season it's time to lean on one of the most dynamic backs in the league to make plays and keep the team in manageable down and distance.

Scouting Eye
Forsett back in starting role
He was cut when Baltimore's roster was reduced to 53, but it was more of a financial move as the Ravens' leading rusher was re-signed a few days later to a new two-year deal. Forsett's season was cut short last season after he suffered a broken arm in late November. The nine-year vet is expected to carry the bulk of the team's rushing load.

I-R tally highIn 2015 the Ravens had a total of 20 players on injured reserve including eight starters. Heading into the 2016 campaign they're well on their way to matching that figure. Baltimore has 13 players on injured reserve entering Week 1. Notable players on that list include CB Kyle Arrington, KR/PR Michael Campanaro, DT Carl Davis, S Matt Elam, rookie DE Bronson Kaufusi and TE Benjamin Watson.

Hester hypes return gameWith their primary return man on injured reserve in Michael Campanaro, Baltimore signed free agent Devin Hester to return kicks and punts. Hester has more returns for touchdowns than any player in NFL history with 20. Fourteen of those came on punt returns. Add in the fact that Baltimore was the number-one ranked special teams unit in the league in 2015 and ranked third in punt return average, and the challenge for Buffalo's special teamers is real in this opening week matchup. Baltimore's special teams unit has ranked in the top five in each of the last four years.

Airing it outThe Ravens weren't shy about taking to the air on offense under new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman in 2015. Despite a myriad of injuries that included their starting quarterback, running back and top receiver, the Ravens posted the second-most net yards in team annals (5,749). Baltimore proved far more effective throwing the ball (8th in passing) than they were running the ball (26th) last season and that is likely to continue. Joe Flacco had five 300-yard passing games in 10 starts last year.

Going for itBaltimore's offense also developed a propensity to go for the first down on fourth down last season, especially in 4th-and-1 situations. When the Ravens faced 4th-and-1 they went for it a league-leading eight times and converted six of them (75%).

In fact since 2014 the Ravens lead the NFL with 18 4th-and-1 attempts. A dozen of those have been converted over the last two years (66.7%).

Dumervil downThey've been a solid pass rushing tandem for Baltimore for several years now, but Terrell Suggs will not have his pass rush partner in Week 1. Elvis Dumervil had offseason foot surgery and recently had a setback that has kept him off the practice field this week. He told Baltimore reporters that he doesn't expect to play Sunday. A five-time Pro Bowler, Dumervil has 23 sacks over his last two seasons.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
"I don't play the money, never have. I love the game that I was blessed to play and my focus each and every week is knowing what I have to do to find a way to win and that's my focus this week and that's going to be it for the rest of the season too."
--QB Tyrod Taylor

Stat of the weekRex Ryan has won his last five games on Kickoff Weekend as a head coach.

Milestones within reachDan Carpenter needs three PATs to become the fifth kicker in Bills history with 100 in his career.

LeSean McCoy needs three rushing touchdowns for 50 in his career.

Eric Wood will make his 50th consecutive start, the longest streak among all centers in the NFL.

Final noteThe last three meetings between the Bills and Ravens have been decided by five points or less, with one game going to overtime.

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