The Bills have advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1995 season. The Bills (14-3) are set to host the Baltimore Ravens (12-5) on Saturday night at 8:15 pm on NBC. With a win, the Bills will advance to the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1994.
Here's what the national media have to say about this week's game along with some final analysis from the first round of the playoffs.
Divisional Round Previews
(5) Baltimore Ravens at (2) Buffalo Bills
8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, Jan. 16, NBC
What to watch for: Two quarterbacks of the heralded 2018 draft will meet for the chance to go to the AFC Championship Game. The Bills' Josh Allen and the Ravens' Lamar Jackson are going to be battling for AFC supremacy for a long time.
Why the Bills win: The Bills are more than capable of matching the Ravens score-for-score in a playoff game. They've scored at least 30 points in seven of their past nine games, averaging 36.7 points overall during that span. Allen is one of the NFL's best passers outside of the pocket, and he set a career high with 117 such passing yards on Saturday against the Colts. The Ravens' defense will be a stiff test. It limited opponents to 4.79 yards per attempt on passes outside the pocket, third lowest in the NFL. But after this regular season, it makes sense to side with the offense in a strength-on-strength matchup.
X factor: The Bills' edge defenders. Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Matt Milano, A.J. Klein and even middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds will all have responsibilities for keeping Jackson in check. Jackson gets a decent portion of his rushing yardage between the tackles, but for the most part his success will rest on whether the Bills' exterior defense can keep him contained.
No. 2 Bills vs. No. 5 Ravens
Date: Saturday, Jan. 16 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET | TV: NBC
Last meeting: Week 14, 2019 (Ravens 24, Bills 17)
Overview: If the Browns-Chiefs matchup is one of the most interesting for the Cleveland storyline, this one might well be the most entertaining of the bunch. Josh Allen and the Bills are fresh off a 27-24 nail-biter against the Colts, whereas Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are coming off their own close win against Tennessee. At peak form, both sides are capable of wowing with their big-play abilities -- Baltimore in the form of Jackson's legs, and Buffalo with Allen's freaky pocket mobility and downfield chemistry with Stefon Diggs. Defense isn't always the strong suit for either team, but you can be sure they'll bring splashy plays to the table.
Early outlook: Oddsmakers are right to basically deem this an even matchup early on. The simplest way to boil this one down is to focus on the QBs: Which young signal-caller can seize the spotlight? Buffalo's run "D" is vulnerable, which may bode well for Jackson, Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins and the Ravens' stable of ball-carriers. On the flip side, the Ravens have been feisty against the pass, but Allen and Diggs have connected to roll over even top secondaries. It's a true toss-up. If it comes down to making plays through the air, perhaps Buffalo's the safer play, especially at home with an extra day of rest.
Wild Card round Takeaways
Gary Gramling went through his takeaways from this past weekend's slate of playoff games and many plays by the Bills stood out to him. He explained what plays from the Bills stood out to him
Things That Made Me Giddy:
Buffalo Is on the Board!:With a playoff win for the first time in 25 years; to put that in perspective, the last time the Bills won a playoff game Josh Allen was 25 years younger than he is today. Now, this one came with as much a sense of relief as it did celebration, due to the quality of this Bills team and dicey nature of the victory. But they get one under their belt, they move on, and they've still played as well as any team in football over the past two months.
Daryl Williams Saves Dyngus Day:With his recovery of an unacceptably sloppy Josh Allen fumble as Buffalo clung to a three-point lead late. If Williams doesn't come up with it, there's quite a pall over Western New York right now. He ended up being one of the best signings of the 2020 offseason and will be rewarded in free agency this offseason, but this moment was one more reason the Bills are fortunate to have their 28-year-old right tackle.
Gabriel Davis's Sideline Wizardry:I don't know if the rookie got his feet down on either play on the Bills' two-minute drive to end the first half (my guess is no on the first, yes on the second, but there's no way either could have been overturned on replay). Davis's nifty footwork put them in position for points at the end of the first half, and eventually they got seven.
Mario Addison's Goal Line Save:He's been another nice veteran addition from the Panthers-to-Buffalo pipeline. On a third-and-goal from the 1 near the end of the first half, he didn't get sucked inside by the misdirection and forced Jonathan Taylor to bounce a pitch even further to the perimeter, where Tre'Davious White cleaned Taylor up for a three-yard loss. Indy went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4 and didn't get it. That's a seven-point play for the vet.
Bills Break Up This Hail Mary:I genuinely worried for Pinto Ron's heart after Philip Rivers launched it (though surely the sigh of relief was audible from Lockport to West Seneca and in every Tonawanda in between as soon as everyone realized the ball was coming down at the 5). Micah Hyde gave it the emphatic, Bam Adebayo-two-handed block to clinch the victory.
Tyler Bass Dominates the Rookie Kicker Battle:Bass nailed a 54-yarder, while Rodrigo Blankenship doinked the upright on a 33-yarder. That seems significant in a game that was decided by three points.
During Good Morning Football on Tuesday, they went around the breakfast table and explained what performances gave them the most strength during the Wild Card round. Michael Robinson picked Stefon Diggs and Peter Schrager picked Darryl Williams. Here's what they had to say about each player's performance:
Michael Robinson – Stefon Diggs
Yeah, for me it has to be Stefon Diggs. I mean you look at what he did this past weekend, six receptions 120 yards and a TD against the Colts. Last year he was with the Minnesota Vikings and is he Nostra Domus, did he see something because the Minnesota Vikings only won seven games this year. You add Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, they win 13 games. He's the top receiver in all the football the most receptions and most reception yards. This guy's a dawg, he totally helped change the culture in Buffalo. And every time I see this guy play, he gets me excited so yeah, the guy that gave me power was definitely Stefon Diggs.
Peter Schrager- Darryl Williams
I'm going to go with another big fellow that doesn't get his name mentioned a lot on this show. Mike, you talked about Buffalo's win, Kyle yesterday you were very eloquent in that Josh Allen, almost had a major hiccup. They're up three points there's four minutes left, they have the ball, just put this game away. There was a terrible decision by Josh Allen trying to do too much which is mildly criticism of him. And then there was Darryl Williams in the right spot. Darryl Williams in a one-year contract for the Bills, watch big Darryl on this play because Josh Allen doing too much, fumbles. That's the game right there and big Darryl number 75 who has been an All-Pro with the Panthers in the past, he saved this game. It could have gone so many different ways, big Darryl Williams, I see you.
Winners of Wild Card Weekend
One day before the Browns won their first playoff game since the 1994 season, the Bills earned their first postseason triumph since the '95 campaign. And it was all sorts of sensational for this fan base in lovely Western New York, as knowledgeable, passionate and loyal a bunch as you'll find in this league.
Bills Mafia has been waiting for a moment like this for decades. It didn't come easy, though, as the visiting Colts came to play. And then Indianapolis got a HUGE break late in the game, when referees inexplicably botched what clearly looked to these eyes like a fumble by Colts WR Zach Pascal. But Buffalo held on for a 27-24 victory. And winning that type of game -- in which the Bills didn't play their absolute best -- shows that this is a different type of Buffalo team, one that can absolutely win the Super Bowl.
Josh Allen is special. Not only did he just become the first quarterback to lead Buffalo to a playoff win since Jim Kelly, but according to NFL Research, he just joined Joe Montana as the only players with 300-plus passing yards, 50-plus rushing yards and a completion percentage of 68-plus in a playoff game during the Super Bowl era. Allen's connection with first-year Bill Stefon Diggs, who caught six balls for 128 yards and a touchdown, is something to behold. And the Buffalo's defense, which hasn't always been a strength for the Bills this season, came up with some huge stops. Over the summer, I said Allen would become an MVP candidate, the Bills would take the AFC East by multiple games and then win a home playoff game. Check, check, check. And honestly, it feels like this could really be just the beginning. Talking to Allen last week on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," the Bills QB waxed poetic about the amazing culture Sean McDermott has established and the spectacular work of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Something tells me this special group isn't done doing special things.
There was more to just playing well that makes Allen a winner this week. At this point he's already a massive hero in Buffalo and bringing the Bills back to the playoffs solidified that — but it was also a chance to show a national audience just how good he is.
To a lot of people Josh Allen is still the "reach" from the 2018 NFL Draft who experts said was destined to be a bust at the next level. However, since his up-and-down first season he's been on fire. Yes, this was a mistake in player evaluation, but to be fair, Allen looks nothing like he did at Wyoming. The maturation has been so pronounced that it hasn't taken long for Allen to not just become a winner who can lead one of the best teams in the NFL, he's making a case as one of the best quarterbacks in the league period. It's got to feel good that more people were around to notice it.
Bills Mafia: The ardent fans of Buffalo, the AFC's version of Green Bay, got to enjoy their first playoff win in a quarter century – and some of them even attended the Bills' defeat of the Colts in Orchard Park, N.Y. Good news: Bills Stadium will host another game next weekend.
Josh Allen: This season's coming-out party for the third-year Bills quarterback is now complete. Allen threw for 324 yards and a pair of scores and ran for 54 yards and another TD. Quite a redemptive performance after he flinched in his playoff debut at Houston last year.