ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Two of the NFL’s top young quarterbacks will meet this weekend in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs.
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens will travel to Western New York to take on Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills Saturday night, in a contest that will feature two quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
It’s also a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. The Ravens have won six straight games after a 6-5 start to the season, while the Bills have won seven in a row, and are a Hail Mary pass away from winning 11 straight coming into this game.
Buffalo hasn’t had the best luck against the Ravens in recent history, winning just one out of the last five meetings dating back to 2010. Their last win came in 2013.
The Bills are back in the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, which came to an end with a loss to the Steelers on January 6, 1996.
Baltimore Ravens (12-5, 7-2 Away) vs. Buffalo Bills (14-3, 8-1 Home)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021
Time: 8:15 p.m. EST
Venue: Bills Stadium — Orchard Park, N.Y.
Moneyline: BAL: (+125) | BUF: (-145)
Spread: BAL: +2.5 (EVEN) | BUF: -2.5 (-120)
Total: 49.5 – Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)
Tale of the tape
Yards/play: BAL: 5.9 (8th) | BUF: 6.1 (6th)
Yards/rush: BAL: 5.5 (1st) | BUF: 4.2 (19th)
Yards/pass: BAL: 7.2 (18th) | BUF: 8.0 (4th)
Points/game: BAL: 29.3 (7th) | BUF: 31.3 (2nd)
Third down conversions: BAL: 48.8% (4th) | BUF: 49.7% (1st)
Red Zone TD percentage: BAL: 63.3% (12th) | BUF: 61.8% (13th)
Turnovers allowed: BAL: 18 (9th) | BUF: 22 (20th)
Yards/play: BAL: 5.2 (7th) | BUF: 5.5 (12th)
Yards/rush: BAL: 4.6 (26th) | BUF: 4.6 (22nd)
Yards/pass: BAL: 6.4 (2nd) | BUF: 6.9 (8th)
Points/game: BAL: 18.9 (2nd) | BUF: 23.4 (16th)
Third down conversions: BAL: 34.0% (2nd) | BUF: 39.8% (13th)
Red Zone TD percentage: BAL: 62.2% (18th) | BUF: 65.6% (28th)
Turnovers forced: BAL: 22 (10th-tied with 7 teams) | BUF: 26 (3rd)
Stefon Diggs and the Bills continue to be a perfect match
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Ever since the Bills traded for Stefon Diggs there have been plenty of questions on how he would fit in with the team.
Would he get along with his teammates? Would he form a good relationship with Josh Allen? Would he be happy in a smaller market? Would he mesh well with the coaching staff?
The answer to all of those questions has been a resounding yes.
“It’s been perfect here as far as the people that I’m around. Like my coaching staff not only trusting me but trusting that I’m a guy that they can lean on at times,” said Diggs on Wednesday. “Not only just football but as far as leading guys and holding people accountable.”
His teammates have raved about how well he’s fit in all season long, like when Dion Dawkins penned his second letter to Bills Mafia before the playoffs.
“They see how I’m grinding and they see how much I put into my craft that they respect me. For me, that means a lot,” said Diggs.
Time spent in the building doesn’t feel like work to him. It feels like he’s doing what he loves.
“You like your job a little bit more when you’re working with somebody that you love or somebody that you appreciate to an extent where you’ll do anything for them,” Diggs added.
While head coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll have gotten plenty of praise this year, Diggs wanted to recognize his receivers coach Chad Hall and the positive impact he’s had on him.
“My position coach is a guy that not only takes care of me mentally but puts me in the right space physically. Gets me ready to go,” said Diggs. “Give me that positive energy just being around those guys.”
Diggs was asked on Wednesday if he thought he was finding his second home in Buffalo. It may take a little bit longer for him to declare that, but he’s on the right path.
“I always said I’m going to be in the right spot when God wants me there. He’s always going to put me where I need to be when I need to be there. I feel like I kinda fit this mold,” said Diggs. “People don’t always fit their community or fit their surroundings. I kinda feel like I fit as far as my passion for football and their passion for football and everybody being on the same course. I say I hope I found my second home. I will say they welcomed me with open arms.”
Diggs has thrived with the Bills, leading the league in receptions and receiving yards and earning first-team All-Pro honors. If his success continues throughout the postseason, he won’t just have a second home— he might also have a key to the city.
Similarities between Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson start their respect for each other
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – There are a lot of similarities between Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson when it comes to their journey in the NFL so far in their young careers.
Both were drafted in the first-round in 2018 (Allen 7th overall, Jackson 32nd overall) while both the Bills and Ravens traded up to get their franchise quarterbacks.
And even though both showed impressive athleticism and ability as a duel threat, mobile quarterback, both were met with criticism and doubters.
There were questions surrounding Allen’s accuracy coming out of college and even throughout his first two seasons in the NFL. Even though he improved his short, intermediate game, he struggled to connect on the deep ball last season.
As for Jackson, the criticism came from his style of quarterback play and doubt about whether or not that could translate into becoming a stable force in the pocket and deliver the big throws when needed. At the combine there were even talks about him possibly working out at a different position that he quickly put to rest.
But Jackson proved the haters wrong and went on the win the league’s MVP in 2019 while Allen has silenced critics after completing the best regular season by a Buffalo Bills quarterback in franchise history.
Now, they’ll meet for the first time in the postseason as the Bills host the Ravens for an AFC divisional-round game on Saturday.
“I tell this to everybody I talk to about him, he is one of the greatest dudes you can be around, he really is. And then for him to kind of have the adversity of coming out the first year and people doubted him and to go out and explode on the scene last year and to just be this dynamic quarterback. I mean you see the impact that he makes in his communities on Instagram and stuff like that, he’s just one of those special guys that they’ve been having a lot of success, he’s been having a lot of success so far early in his career,” Josh Allen said on Tuesday.
Another thing they have in common is their respect for each other.
People are always just talking about Josh and his big arm, but he’s doing it all out there. He’s getting out of the pocket, taking advantage of what the defense gives him, throwing the ball on a rope. He’s slinging the ball like a Patrick Mahomes,” Lamar Jackson said to reporters on Tuesday.
“He’s helping his team out a lot. He’s one of the key reasons they’re putting up so many points and winning games. Hats off to Josh because he’s been doing it since his rookie season.”
Another knock on Jackson was that he couldn’t win the big game as he lost both playoff games he’s played in until last weekend when the Ravens beat the Titans on wild card weekend. Allen also just won his first career playoff game as the Bills held on to beat the Colts.
“I root heavily for him just knowing what he went through his first year and how he’s been able to do it and how humble and how awesome he is off the field. He’s just one of those guys you root for and it’s hard to not root for him when you’re playing against him but we’re enemies on Saturday and we both know that but he’s just one of those guys, again, I can’t say enough about just good of a dude he is that makes you love him that much more on the field,” Allen explained.
Singletary ready to step up as lead back for Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — When Zack Moss injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Bills’ playoff win against the Colts, it was an unfortunate end to a promising rookie season.
Moss is out for the rest of the season, which will mean a bigger role for Devin Singletary.
The two have shared the load in the backfield for the Bills this season, but Moss has been the one with the majority of the work recently. Since Week 8 against the Patriots, Moss has 90 carries to Singletary’s 80.
While it’s not the way Singletary wanted to get more work, he’s ready to seize the moment.
“This is an opportunity. We’re going to see how it plays out,” said Singletary. “I’m built for it. I’m ready for it. I know the team has confidence in me, I have confidence in me. Whatever way I can, helping the team win that’s what I’ll do.”
After Moss went down, head coach Sean McDermott came over to Singletary to reinforce the team’s confidence in him.
“He told me I’m ready for this moment, I worked for it. Everyone believed in me, we know you believe in yourself, just handle your business,” said Singletary.
Singletary praised Moss, who had a promising rookie season and should be a big part of the team’s offense next year.
“He did a lot. He made some big plays when his number was called. As a rookie, he played like a vet,” Singletary said. “He’s very smart, very savvy, and he always brought great energy. He was always positive.”
It was actually Josh Allen leading the way for the Bills running the ball on Saturday, carrying it eleven times compared to just ten for Moss and Singletary combined. Combined with an emphasis on the passing game this year, that’s meant fewer chances for the team’s running backs.
“It comes with the game. Every year is different, every week is different. It doesn’t matter how many opportunities, if it’s a lot or a little, you’ve got to be ready to take advantage of them,” said Singletary. “That’s just been my mindset all year.”
There are several options for the team to spell Singletary with. T.J. Yeldon was active for the three games that Moss missed earlier in the season with a toe injury. Practice squad undrafted rookie Antonio Williams impressed in Week 17, picking up 83 yards on 13 touches for two touchdowns against Miami’s backups.
The team also signed Devonta Freeman to their practice squad on Tuesday, who ran for 172 yards on 54 carries this year with the Giants.
“It’s been good having another vet in the room,” said Singletary of the seven-year pro. “You can learn a lot from him. The past few days have been smooth with him in there.”
“He can do it all. He’s a vet but on top of that, he can play ball. He can run the ball, he can catch, he can pass block,” he added. “I feel like if he was to be needed, whatever we needed him to do he could do it.”
Against the Ravens’ stingy run defense, the Bills could just decide to abandon the run as they’ve done several times this season. The Ravens allowed the 8th-fewest rushing yards this season, and have allowed 68.8 yards per game to opposing running backs over the last four weeks. They even held Derrick Henry to just 40 yards on 18 carries last week.
Singletary proved last year that he can deliver in the playoffs. We’ll see if he’s given that chance on Saturday.
Jets interview Bills’ offensive coordinator Brian Daboll
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets’ quickly growing list of head coaching candidates got a little longer.
Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Indianapolis defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus interviewed with New York a day after their teams squared off in a wild-card playoff game won by the Bills.
The Jets also met remotely with Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley on a busy Sunday.
Daboll, Eberflus and Staley make seven known candidates to speak with the Jets, who fired Adam Gase after two seasons last Sunday.
Bills players felt fan energy in Wild Card win over Colts
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) – 6700 fans seems small compared to Bills Stadium’s 71,870 person capacity, Bills players felt their passion from the field up.
“When we came out today running out of that tunnel, call it 6700 hundred fans, but man that place was rocking,” said Micah Hyde. “It was louder than I expected.”
Stefon Diggs’ excitement to experience Bills Mafia amplified when fans met the team after their playoff clinching game in Denver. His first game with Bills Mafia in the stands did not disappoint.
“We’ve been in the game for so long, and it’s been so quiet that you kind of got used to it being quiet,” said Diggs. “Pregame you got a little bit of a crowd noise and then when the game started it gave you a little bit of extra juice.”
Jordan Poyer said it was a “wild” reunion, but a sweet one for fans and players alike. The Bills Wild Card win over the Colts was the team’s first playoff win in 25 and the first playoff game in Buffalo since 1996.
“It was a cool experience to see them again,” said Poyer. “I know they had a blast, I know my family had a blast, and I’m just happy to put on a good show for them today.”
The Bills will have the opportunity to put on a show next weekend, as the Bills advance to the AFC divisional round. Buffalo’s second seed guarantees another home playoff game in Orchard Park.
Season ticket holders who did not attend Saturday’s game will be eligible to attend the second round playoff game.