Ravens vs. Bills: NFL playoffs odds, preview, and pick
Two of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL will face off Saturday, when Lamar Jackson leads the Baltimore Ravens into Buffalo to square off with Josh Allen and the Bills in the Divisional Round.
Sun, January 17 2021, 1:15 AM
Jackson finally got his first playoff win
Even though it was just two defeats, Jackson had the “can’t win a playoff game” moniker attached to his name.
But last week, he helped overturn a double-digit deficit and led his team to victory in a revenge win against the Tennessee team that ran over the Ravens in last year’s playoffs. They tied the game up late in the second quarter with his amazing 48-yard touchdown run, and Jackson was able to do enough in the second half to give them the lead and help eat the clock.
Baltimore earned 22 first downs and 401 yards in the victory and rushed for 236 yards on 35 carries. Running back J.K. Dobbins scored a touchdown for the seventh straight game and rushed for 43 yards on nine carries.
Receiver Marquise Brown had a big game, as well, with seven receptions for 109 yards, but he may find things much tougher against the Bills, with Pro Bowl corner Tre’Davious White likely his shadow.
Tight end Mark Andrews caught four passes for 41 yards and will likely need to play a bigger role against Buffalo. The Bills allowed 14 completions to tight ends against the Colts last week, and with Brown locked down, Andrews can be the primary target in the Baltimore passing game.
Defensively, Baltimore was outstanding against the Titans. A year after it allowed Derrick Henry to put up 195 yards rushing, the Ravens defense limited him to just 40 yards on 18 carries. Tennessee earned just 12 first downs, and the Ravens held quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a lot of short completions and only 158 yards on 26 attempts.
Allen represents a much tougher challenge, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey will need to do a better job on Stefon Diggs than he did last week against A.J. Brown.
Baltimore has not allowed more than 20 points in six of its last seven games, and the Ravens have allowed only 34 touchdowns from scrimmage this season, the second-fewest in the league.
First playoff win in 25 years not enough for Bills
Allen had a terrific game against the Colts. He threw for 324 yards and a pair of scores and rushed for 54 yards and another touchdown. The MVP candidate found Diggs six times for 128 yards, including one of his touchdowns.
Running back Zack Moss got injured in the game, and that means Devin Singletary will be asked to do more against the Ravens. However, Buffalo has all but given up on the run, and Allen will be asked to carry the offense with his arm, against the 11th-best pass defense in the league.
Buffalo will look to how it played against Jackson and the Ravens last season, when it held him to just 40 yards rushing and 145 passing, his lowest yardage total of the season. However, the Bills allowed three touchdown passes in that game and limited Andrews to just one catch.
They will need to improve their performance against the run if they want to win. They allowed the Colts to run for 163 yards on 30 carries, including two runs of 20 yards or more.
Ravens and Bills statistics and rankings
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Baltimore vs. Buffalo injury report
Baltimore is fully healthy, as head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that his team suffered no injuries against Tennessee and he expects everyone to be available against the Bills.
Buffalo will be monitoring wide receiver Cole Beasley, whose knee injury had him struggling at times against the Colts. Moss is out with an ankle injury and will not return this season.
Ravens vs. Bills betting trends
Baltimore has won eight straight games and has covered in five of its last six games, last week being the exception. The Ravens have also covered in 10 of their last 11 games as an underdog. They have beaten Buffalo in five of their last seven matchups.
Buffalo has won seven straight games, and 10 of their last 11, with the only loss on a Hail Mary against the Cardinals. The Bills have covered the spread in eight of their last nine games. The total has gone Under in four of their last five.
This game is so tough to predict.
Baltimore’s rushing attack is so powerful that it could limit the Bills’ offensive possessions and keep Allen off the field. However, the matchup of Brown against White is bad for Baltimore, as Brown was the best weapon they had in the passing game against Tennessee.
The other intriguing matchup is red-zone efficiency. Baltimore ranks 13th in red zone touchdown percentage (61.9%), but over its last three games it has converted at just 53.9%. Only the Packers have converted at a higher percentage than the Bills over the last three games. Will they continue that trend against a Baltimore defense that has allowed the second-fewest red-zone touchdowns (33.3%) over the last three games?
Weather will likely play a key role, as the first night playoff game in Buffalo will see temperatures near or below freezing.
I think Baltimore will win the game outright. The Ravens will wear down the Bills defense and run Buffalo into the ground.