Ravens present Bills a fascinating opponent

Buffalo Bills

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – JANUARY 10: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs with the ball against the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs at Nissan Stadium on January 10, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Most NFL fans know about Lamar Jackson, but beyond that, who are the Ravens?

They might be the NFL’s most fascinating team.

Baltimore’s schedule was both easier and tougher than Buffalo’s. The Ravens played eight games against playoff teams in the regular season and went 4-4. No playoff team faced more. The Bills had five games against playoff opponents and beat three of them.

The Ravens’ non-playoff opponents were much worse than Bills’ non-playoff teams. Baltimore got easy wins against Cincinnati (twice), Jacksonville and the woeful NFC East.

The number one priority for the Bills Sunday is stopping the Ravens run game. Former Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman is in charge of a Baltimore offense that’s number one in total rushing yards and number one in yards per carry. No doubt, Jackson is a huge part of that and pushes both numbers up with improvised scramble plays that can hit home runs from any spot on the field.

The Ravens have the worst passing game in the NFL by total yards, but are reasonably efficient. It’s certainly nothing at the Bills level, but the Ravens can pass the ball some. They just choose not to and are not often forced into passing.

Third down is going to be a key down, even moreso than usual. Baltimore the best 3rd down team in the NFL. They are 4th best on offense, 2nd best on defense (The Bills are 1st and 13th, respectively). Putting together extended drives and converting third downs (9 of 17) was a big reason why the Colts gave Buffalo so much trouble.

This Baltimore defense will also be a total 180 from the Colts. Indy blitzed the second least of any team in the NFL this season while the Ravens are the league’s most heavily blitzing team. On the flip side, the Colts missed the least tackles in NFL. Baltimore missed the second most.

The Colts may wear the horseshoe on their helmet, but it’s the Ravens who have had all the luck this year. No team had more kicks missed against them (8 FGs, 5 PATs). In fact, teams missed one of every three field goal tries against the Ravens.

Baltimore also only lost seven of their 25 fumbles. There were also 33 opponent fumbles in Ravens games. The 58 combined fumbles were, by far, the most for one team in the NFL. Baltimore games average nearly four fumbles per contest.

The luck ends when it comes to penalties. The Ravens committed the league’s fifth most fouls and have the third least against. If there’s a flag in a Baltimore game, it’s most likely on them (though the Bills are right behind Baltimore in penalties committed)

One of the underrated keys to this Bills season is their special teams, but Baltimore has a special special teams unit themselves. The Ravens are top 10 on both coverage teams, including the fourth best punt coverage team. Baltimore also has the second best kickoff return team. Buffalo is number one.

John Harbaugh’s team is top 10 in touchbacks forced and punting average. Plus, Justin Tucker is as good as it gets as a placekicker, though he has not quite been himself lately. He has missed field goals in four of his last seven games, including a 52 yarder he pushed wide Sunday in Tennessee. Tucker also had a streak of 70 consecutive field goals made inside 40 yards snapped in early December.

He’s still the best in the game and just one reason why Buffalo will have their hands full on Saturday night.

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