The Baltimore Ravens return home today for what is only their third game on their own turf. Baltimore has protected their house well so far, winning both games and plan to do the same thing today when the winless Buffalo Bills (0-5) visit as part of their schedule against the AFC East teams. After losing to Buffalo's division-mate New England Patriots last week, the Ravens are hoping for a much different outcome today.
What appears to be a mismatch on paper should play out the same way on the field, as these are two teams with decidedly different perspectives on the 2010 season. The Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot and are legitimate Super Bowl contenders while the Bills are already looking for the rest of the season to show what they will be addressing in the off season.
However this is the NFL and if the Ravens come out onto the field expecting Buffalo to just roll over and let them walk all over them, they will be sadly disappointed and embarrassed.
Fortunately, I do not expect that to happen for a moment, as the Ravens should be an angry bunch of players that knew they had the Patriots on the ropes last week and let them get back into the game and eventually win it. This time I fully expect the Ravens players and coaches to make sure they put the finishing touches on the win long before the game clock ticks down to zero. Even if Baltimore jumps out to an early lead, expect the Ravens to pile on the pressure the entire game and not let off until the final whistle.
QB Joe Flacco neds to prove his decision-making at the line of scrimmage as well as his progression of reads prior to checking down to RB Ray Rice is thorough and complete. The receivers need to figure out how to get separation, especially against what looks to be their Achilles Heel, the cover-two defense. The key to this is being able to run the ball successfully, which forces the deeper safeties to creep towards the line of scrimmage, thereby negating most of the success of that defensive scheme.
That should be a relatively easy task today, as the Bills rank dead last in defending the run and while the Ravens have not enjoyed the level of success they've had in previous years, that should all change today. Ray Rice will be a major factor and get his touches today and should rip apart the Bills weak defensive front seven. Expect to see a lot more of Willis McGahee this week, with one carry being more than he inexplicably had last week.
Defensively, the Ravens will continue to try different combinations to get the much needed pressure on Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick wh is enjoying a very good season so far. Perhaps mst of tht is due to the Bills consistently laying from behind in every game, but their offense has not been their problem, as evidenced by them putting up 30 points in their loss to the Patriots.
However, today not only are they on the road in what has become one of the toughest places to win for a visiting team in the league, but they are playing a team that is as good or better of a defense than they have faced all season. The Ravens should be able to win the battle of the trenches on both sides of the ball and that is where games are won or lost. With that in mind, the running and passing games should be in high gear and the return of safety Ed Reed should bolster the secondary even more and create turnovers for additional scoring chances.
Rarely do we predit a blowout but this game has every reason to be over by halftime, but as said earlier do not expect the Ravens to slow down out of the gate in the second half. The Ravens roll over the hapless Bills, who may be one of the two worst teams in the NFL.