The Baltimore Ravens travel to upstate New York to take on the surging Buffalo Bills, who will be looking to hand the Ravens their first loss since September. With a win in Buffalo, the Ravens will punch their ticket to the playoffs and with a Steelers loss, will clinch the AFC North for the second year in a row.
There is a world where the AFC playoffs run through Orchard Park and with the Patriots taking on the Chiefs Sunday, the Bill could leave Sunday tied for first place in the AFC East. The Ravens head into this matchup as six-point favorites with a total point projection of 43.5. The forecast calls for relatively mild weather with a temperature in the low-40’s and no precipitation likely. Moderate to strong wind gusts are expected throughout the game, possibly as high as 30-mph, which could affect the passing offense for both teams.
ATS (Against the spread)
Ravens -6 (-115)
Flying under the radar for most of the 2019 season, the Bills finally got to show the world what they’ve been building all year, embarrassing the Cowboys on national television. Now, they have a chance to solidify that victory and put themselves in a position to play for the AFC East crown when they meet with the Patriots later this month. This could the biggest regular season home-game in recent Bills history and New Era Field will be charged up at a chance to knock off the red-hot Ravens.
Baltimore is having a phenomenal season, winners of eight-straight games entering Week 14 with best odds to win the Super Bowl (30%), per FiveThirtyEight. By now everyone knows about the Ravens offense and in their last five games, they’re averaging an absurd 38.4 points per game. While the offense and MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson has dominated the headlines, Wink Martindale’s defense has quietly rebuilt themselves from early season struggles to now a top-five unit in the league. Ranking fifth in the NFL in points allowed per game (18.2) and sixth in rushing defense (94.9 yards allowed/game), they have allowed only 43 points in their last four games.
This game should be defined by the ground game and defense, much like a week ago against the 49ers. Weather won’t play as big of a role as last Sunday, but strong wind gusts could certainly drive the narrative and hamper expectations of big offensive numbers. The Ravens like to strike early and put stress on the opposing offenses, meaning Josh Allen will need to have his best game of the season.
The Ravens defense has been opportunistic with turnovers and will prove to be Allen’s toughest test as a professional. The Bills offense won’t have enough firepower to keep pace with the Ravens while Josh Allen will hand the ball over to the Ravens defense on more than one occasion. The Ravens continue to roll towards home field advantage through the playoffs, knocking off the Buffalo Bills.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Bills 17
Mark Ingram total rushing yards: Over 56.5 (-112)
Mark Ingram total rushing attempts: Over 13.5 (-116)
Running more like a guy in his early 20’s, Ingram has been the driving force of this Ravens rushing attack. As important as Jackson has been to the success of the offense, Ingram’s physicality as a north and south runner in the power run scheme has been invaluable. Over the last five games, Ingram has averaged 73.4 yards per game and has seen at least 15 carries in the last two. Buffalo has arguably the best secondary in football, and with wind expected to be a factor, expect another big day on the ground from Ingram.
Lamar Jackson total rushing yards – Over 68.5 (-108)
By now we have all heard that Lamar Jackson needs just 63 rushing yards to break Michael Vick’s single season rushing record by a quarterback. Over the past three games he has gone for 79, 95 and 101 yards as defenses continue to fall over themselves trying to figure out how to stop him. With a low total point projection and conditions favorable to the ground game, look for Jackson to surpass Michael Vick on the all-time list with three games remaining in the season.
Josh Allen Interception: Yes (-134)
The Ravens defense brings the blitz at a higher rate than any team in the league and has been opportunistic in creating turnovers. They have forced quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson into throwing interceptions and I expect that trend to continue against the Bills. While Allen has improved in this area, he is still prone to throwing interceptions at a high rate and the Ravens defense historically gives young quarterbacks a tough time. Factor in the windy weather with a blitz percentage of 48% of snaps and a secondary lurking with ball hawks, all pointing to a tough day for Josh Allen through the air.
Week 13 Recap
Ravens -5.5 (-110): LOSS
Team to score first: Ravens (-152) – LOSS
Mark Ingram rush attempts: Over 13.5 (-128) - WIN
George Kittle total receptions: Over 5.5 (-126) - LOSS
Mark Andrews total receptions: Over 3.5 (+100) – LOSS
Season record: 28-27 (51%)