The pick of the AFC Divisional Round games as the number two seed Buffalo Bills welcome the King slaying Baltimore Ravens to Western New York on Saturday Night. Baltimore are riding a six game winning streak whilst the Bills are unbeaten in seven, who’s good form will continue and progress to the AFC Championship Game?
The Buffalo Bills secured their first playoff win in 25 years last weekend as they defeated the Colts 27-24. The Bills passing offense played well against the Colts, with Josh Allen throwing for 324 yards and two TD’s whilst adding another on the ground, but we did see a little reminder that Josh Allen is in fact not perfect as he took a sack and fumbled the ball, luckily for he and the Bills it was recovered by Buffalo but a mistake like that against the Ravens could be much more costly. Stefon Diggs again enjoyed success as he compiled his eighth game with over 100 receiving yards and his ninth TD of the season against the Colts but I expect he’ll be hard pressed to pick up his ninth game with over 100 receiving yards as this Baltimore Ravens defense have only allowed two receivers that total all season. The Bills defense will have a point to prove on Saturday night as they’re coming off of a game in which an aging Philip River threw for over 300 yards and two TD’s. It’s not that the defense played downright badly, it’s just that they never looked like making a play until late in the fourth quarter (forced fumble no call) and couldn’t get close to Sacking one of the least mobile QB’s in all of Football, so you have to wonder and worry about how they’re going to contain arguably the best dual threat QB in NFL history in Lamar Jackson. The Buffalo Bills are 11-3 all time in Playoff games at home, and after winning their first Playoff game for a quarter of a century last week, Bills Mafia are hoping that Playoff wins are like buses..
Baltimore avenged last years playoff loss to the Titans on Sunday with a 20-13 win in a game where they kept Tennessee’s 2000 yard rusher, Derrick Henry to only 40 rushing yards and Ryan Tannehill to only 165 passing yards, it was a dominant performance from the Baltimore defense and they’ll need another one like it if they’re going to slow down this Buffalo passing offense, and they have the players to do it, it’s to be seen if they plan to cover Stefon Diggs with their best cover corner, Marlon Humphrey or with their ball hawk, Marcus Peters, both of whom are two of the best Corners in the game, and if Yannick Ngakoue can set the edge and keep Allen in the pocket then there’s a great chance this Ravens defense can keep arguably the hottest offense in football quiet, but keeping Diggs and Allen off their game isn’t something many teams have been able to do this season so if the Ravens can actually do it is to be seen. An interesting matchup between the Bills offense and Ravens defense will be how the Ravens defend the field, they prefer to be in man coverage most of the time but Josh Allen has been at his best this season against man coverage so it’ll be interesting to see if they trust their system or if they play away from Allen’s strength and line up in zone coverage, I’d expect a lot of pre snap motion from the Bills early to look for clues as to how the Ravens are playing them, another interesting battle on that side of the ball if the Ravens cool the amount of pressure they send, during the regular the season Baltimore led the NFL in Blitz percentage but Josh Allen has 1,155 passing yards this season when being blitzed and led the NFL in TD’s thrown whilst being blitzed with 19, do the Ravens stick to their game plan or do they dial back the pressure and look to contain Josh Allen in the pocket? It’s going to be an interesting matchup on that side of the ball that’s for sure, and I’ll leave you with this as the last thing on that side of the ball, The Baltimore Ravens have a top 10 ranked total defense, Josh Allen has gone against half of the top 10 ranked total defense’s in the NFL this season, his record? A perfect 5-0.
On the other side of the ball for the Ravens it’s all about Lamar Jackson, last year’s MVP has been in great form these last few weeks and has got back to doing what he does best and that’s running the ball! Not only does it scare the opposing defense but it also opens up the passing game for Lamar making completions easier, and although he was quiet through the air against the Titans with only 179 passing yards, 0 TD’s and an INT, it was on the ground where he was as dangerous as ever, rushing for 136 yards and a TD, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Bills who have struggled to stop the run on more than one occasion this season will deal with the most potent run offense in the NFL, and if they do manage it will they have to sell out and allow Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews to eat in the passing game?
Real tough game to call here between two teams in great form. I found an interesting statistic during my research for this game and that’s that only 9 times in NFL history have two teams with a 6 or more game winning streak played each other (excluding Super Bowl matchup’s) and in those games the home side are 8-1. I also found it interesting that so far this season the Ravens with Lamar Jackson are 4-3 in games against teams with winning records, in these games they’ve only scored more than 24 points just twice, both against their divisional rivals, the Cleveland Browns, whilst Buffalo are 6-2 against teams above .500 and have only scored under 26 points twice.. Call it my Buffalo Bills fandom or call it blind optimism but I’m taking the Bills to come out on top here. The narrative all week has been how Josh Allen’s fumble almost cost the Bills the game whilst everyone is singing Lamar Jackson’s praises in a game where he threw zero TD passes, had less total TD’s and less total yards than Josh Allen, who was up against the much tougher defense. Although the Bills are still favourites with Vegas, the majority of NFL media are with the Ravens in this one and with the possibility of snow in Buffalo the conditions could very well play into the hands of Baltimore but unless it turns into a blizzard I’m taking the team we’ve seen do it against playoff calibre teams all season, and I’m taking them to win by 10.
For my best bet we’re heading to the Buffalo Bills defense and veteran Safety, Jordan Poyer who’s U/O Tackles & Assists number for this game is set at 6.5, Poyer has gone made 7 or more T&A’s in 12 of his 17 games this season and in both previous games for the Bills against Baltimore, and in a game where making tackles against a run heavy Ravens offense is going to be imperative for this Bills defense, I like him to go over that 6.5 line. I also like the price of Ravens TE, Mark Andrews to find himself in the end zone, the big bodied pass catcher is Lamar Jackson’s favourite target and has 7 TD receptions this season against a Bills defense which gave up 8 TD’s to Tight Ends in the regular season and gave up another one against the Colts last week, I could see him getting a score here.
PREDICTION: BILLS 30 – 20 RAVENS
BEST BET: Jordan Poyer OVER 6.5 Tackles & Assists – 8/11 with SkyBet. 1 point bet.
NEXT BEST: Mark Andrews ANYTIME TD – 5/2 with Betfair. 0.5 point bet.