2021-01-17
Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills
League : NFL

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens Prediction & Preview



 

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Buffalo Bills will look to keep their magical season going when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game. Buffalo, which went 13-3 in the regular season, survived a scare from the seventh-seeded Indianapolis Colts on Wild Card weekend, winning 27-24 as a touchdown favorite at home. After an 11-5 regular season, Baltimore earned an impressive road win at the No. 4 seed Tennessee Titans 20-13 as a 3.5-point favorite last Sunday

This will be the first playoff meeting and ninth meeting all-time between the two franchises, with Baltimore most recently winning 24-17 in December of 2019 to take a 6-3 lead in the series dating back to 1999.

 

Baltimore gets revenge

After suffering a shocking playoff defeat to the Titans last year and losing an earlier regular-season matchup, Baltimore was able to turn a stifling defensive performance en route to a victory in last Sunday's Wild Card game. Tennessee led 10-0 near the end of the first quarter behind a touchdown catch by AJ Brown, but the Ravens would tie the game before the half on a highlight-reel 48-yard run by Lamar Jackson and later went in front on a J.K. Dobbins touchdown run. Marcus Peters picked off Ryan Tannehill with just under two minutes left to effectively seal the win.

 

Jackson earned his first postseason victory by completing 17 of 24 passes for 179 yards and an interception while carrying the ball 16 times for 136 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore held one of the NFL's best offenses to 209 yards, and impressively limited rushing champion Derrick Henry to 18 carries for 40 yards.

“This may be the best win I’ve ever been associated with,” head coach John Harbaugh said via the Associated Press. "It was a very strong effort. Our tackling was strong, all the outside backers. That kind of physicality. We were able to hit [Henry] with multiple helmets and take him back.”

The Ravens are now 11-6 against the spread and have covered in six straight games during their late-season surge. Overs are 7-10 for Baltimore this season as the Tennessee game went way under the betting total of 53.5 points.

Baltimore is now seventh in the NFL in scoring at 29.3 points per game despite being only 18th in total offense at 365.4 yards per game. The Ravens defense has gotten healthier in recent weeks and surged all the way to second in the NFL in scoring defense at 18.9 points per game allowed and 332.6 yards per game allowed, ranking sixth.

Jackson didn't repeat his MVP caliber numbers but still had an excellent year, completing 242 of 376 passes for 2,757 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions, along with 1,005 yards and seven scores as a rusher. Dobbins emerged as the lead back during Baltimore's win streak and finished the year with 134 carries for 805 yards and nine touchdowns.

Cornerback Marcus Peters has been unable to practice this week due to a back injury after reeling in the game-sealing interception on Sunday, a developing story to watch as the game approaches. Linebacker Matthew Judon has also missed two straight practices due to an illness. Offensive tackle DJ Fluker was limited on Wednesday by a knee injury.

 

Buffalo wins first playoff game in 25 years

For the first time in a quarter-century, the Bills won a postseason game after surviving the most entertaining contest of Wild Card weekend 27-24 against Indianapolis. The Colts largely dominated the first half but kept stalling in Buffalo territory, and fell behind 14-10 just before the break when Josh Allen capped off a 98-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run after Indianapolis went for it on fourth and goal. Buffalo pushed the lead to 24-10 on a Stefon Diggs 35-yard catch, but the Colts would claw back to get the ball back down three with under 2:00 to go, only for their potential game-tying drive to stall around midfield.

 

Allen finished the game 26 of 35 for 324 yards, while also carrying the ball 11 times for 54 yards and a score. The Bills were outgained 427-397, but Indianapolis was hurt by multiple long drives into Buffalo territory that didn't finish in points.

“Obviously we started off a little slow and we were able to get into a rhythm late. Made enough plays to win,” Allen said to the Associated Press. “It’s new territory for myself, but it just gives us a chance to play next week.”

Buffalo matches the Ravens at 11-6 against the spread, although last Saturday's game snapped a streak of eight straight covers. Overs are 11-5-1 for Buffalo with three of the last four games going over the betting total after a busy fourth quarter against the Colts helped the teams get past the line of 50.5 points.

The Bills own one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL at second in scoring and total yardage with 31.3 points and 396.5 yards per game. Opponents are averaging 23.4 points per game and 359.5 yards per game to put Buffalo at 16th in both categories, although it has been much better over the last half of the season.

Allen made an incredible leap in year three, completing 396 of 572 passes for 4,455 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while adding 421 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Diggs was the NFL's most productive wide receiver, catching 127 passes for 1,535 yards and eight touchdowns.

Rookie running back Zack Moss injured his ankle late in the Colts game and will miss the rest of the playoffs. Diggs (oblique) and Cole Beasley (knee) were both out of practice on Wednesday, although it would be a big surprise if neither was able to play even if the latter is limited. Top linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was limited by a hamstring and defensive end Ed Oliver is dealing with an ankle, which is worth monitoring as the game approaches.





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