The Baltimore Ravens are flying high after beating up on the Houston Texans at home in week three, but they will hit the road in week four as they travel north to take on the Buffalo Bills. On paper, Baltimore should have no trouble with this matchup, but we are going to take the time to preview the game anyway, because after all….they don't play the games on paper.
Baltimore will be taking on a team that has allowed more points than they have scored, and if not for some last minute heroics, the Bills would be 0-3 instead of the 1-2 they currently are.
The Bills have the 14th best total offense in the NFL, but rank 20th in scoring offense behind rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. It doesn't take much analysis to realize that if the Bills are a top half offense in total offense, but a bottom half offense in scoring, they must really have trouble turning drives into touchdowns rather than field goals. That is exactly the case with the Bills as they have only scored a touchdown in 50% of the trips they have taken into the redzone, which ranks them 23rd out of 32 NFL teams. This will be a great point of interest in this game because Baltimore has the ninth best redzone defense in the NFL when it comes to opponent redzone touchdown percentage as they hold opponents to a field goal or less in the redzone 60% of the time.
On the flip side of that, Baltimore's offense fourth worst in all of football in total offense, but ranks 12th in scoring offense, thus one would be led to assume that the Ravens take advantage of their redzone opportunities. Baltimore ranks in the top half of the league in touchdown percentage in the redzone as they convert for six points 60% of the time. Buffalo's defense is actually tied with the Ravens in regards to redzone defense, as they too hold opponents to a field goal or less 60% of the time.
The redzone, although it plays a key part in most games, will be even more important in this game as Baltimore scores touchdowns more frequently when in the redzone, and their defense keeps teams from scoring touchdowns, which doesn't bode well for a Bills team that already struggles to punch the ball in when inside the 20 yardline.
Baltimore's defense has had some success getting to the quarterback this season and currently rank sixth in the league as they average 3.7 sacks a game. Buffalo will be starting a rookie quarterback, who is known for some mobility, against quite a pass rush, so Manuel's ability to avoid the pass rush could possibly be one of the biggest keys to this game.
Buffalo could be just what the doctor ordered for the Ravens' rushing offense as the Bils are tied with the Washington Redskins for the second worst rushing defense in all of football as they average 155 rushing yards per game. This is promising news for a Ravens offense that ranks 25th in the league in average rushing yards per game and appears to be getting Ray Rice back this week.
This week is one of the more odd matchups of the season as both teams appear to have some favorable matchups, but will see some of their own weaknesses up against their opponents weaknesses. Baltimore will have to do their best not to overlook these Buffalo Bills. Even though the Bills are 1-2 on the season, both of their losses have come from a combined nine points, and they nearly bead the New England Patriots in week one. As long as Baltimore takes care of their business, there is no reason they should not be going into week five with a 3-1 record and in at least a tie for the AFC North lead.
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