The Ravens exercised their playoff demons with a 20-13 win over the Titans last Sunday. Baltimore will now travel to Buffalo to face the red-hot Bills led by MVP candidate Josh Allen at QB. Here are five keys for the Ravens to get their second playoff win this Saturday and to advance to the AFC Championship.
1) Double Diggs
Buffalo’s blockbuster trade for WR Stefon Diggs has paid dividends this season for the development of Allen and the offense, making it one of the best units in the league. Diggs was the league leader in receiving yards this season, so Baltimore’s secondary will have their hands full. CBs Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith will all likely line up against Diggs at various points throughout the game, but using a safety over top to help prevent anything deep should be a priority in the gameplan.
2) Contain Allen on the ground
While the obvious strength of the Bills this season has been the passing attack, the Ravens cannot forget the damage Allen can cause with his legs as well. Allen finished the season with 421 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Allen may look to scramble once he escapes the pocket, so Baltimore should be ready to pounce in those situations and avoid giving up big runs to Allen, especially on third down.
3) Pressure Allen
Pressuring Allen will be key in forcing him into mistakes and to prevent him from picking the defense apart through the air. The pass rush for the Ravens has gotten healthy in recent weeks and has turned up the pressure in the process. With the pass-heavy nature of the offense that they will be facing this week, Baltimore’s pass rushers have a chance to make their mark on the game. Pressure on Allen can bring out his worst characteristics when trying to extend a play.
4) Run the ball
In a cold-weather game, the Ravens’ gameplan should be pretty simple on offense. Buffalo allowed 119.6 rushing yards per game this season, while Baltimore averaged 191.9 per game, meaning the rushing attack should once again the primary attack method. Any potential harsh conditions in the weather should favor the Ravens with their rushing attack over the high-flying aerial assault of the Bills.
5) Take what the defense gives in the passing game
It’s important for Jackson and the Ravens to take what the defense gives them in the passing game. Last week, Jackson did most of his work through the air to the outside of the field, despite his normal tendency to live in the middle. Whether it be short completions to FB Patrick Ricard or RB J.K. Dobbins, deep passes to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, or passes to TE Mark Andrews in the middle of the field, Jackson must take what is available and avoid forcing anything that could result in turnovers.