There weren’t many teams who came into the post-season hotter than the Baltimore Ravens. Unless they were the Buffalo Bills.
So which team is going to have the advantage in this AFC Divisional Round matchup?
And who will play the most prominent roles?
The Bills are the team that won a division title (the AFC East), so they are hosting the game against a wild card team.
Kickoff is 8:15 PM ET at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. And in the AFC playoff betting odds at BetAnySports, the Bills are the favorites at home:
Buffalo Bills -2.5
Baltimore Ravens +2.5
Over 49.5 points -110
Under 49.5 points -110
The Ravens dialed it up on the defensive end last week, limiting Derrick Henry to next to nothing and the Titans to just 13 points. At this point they are on a pointspread roll, having covered seven consecutive games against the number.
This week the Bills will face a different challenge than the pocket-bound Philip Rivers (of Indianapolis). Lamar Jackson has been taking his own rushing game to a new level, running for 313 yards and a 7.8-yard average in the last three games.
It’s interesting that at a point in the season when things weren’t going all that well for the Ravens, Jackson made the remark that he felt his offense was becoming a little too “predictable,” which may or may not have been a dig at offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
They went on to lose to the Patriots and the Titans, before going on their roll.
Opponents have talked about how they knew Baltimore was going to run on first down, and how Jackson’s passes were going to go to either Hollywood Brown or Mark Andrews. And they have proven to be right; between those receivers, they account for about have the targets on this team.
And yes, the Ravens have run the ball 64% of the time on first down.
Of course, they have run 55.6% of the time, period, so this is not much of a surprise. But what is kind of interesting is that their opponents, both last week and this, were, and are, as “predictable” in their own way.
Tennessee, for instance, ran the ball 65% of the time on first down this season. And Buffalo is at the other end of the scale, passing it 61% of the time on first down – the highest rate in the league.
So it’s really all in the execution. What the Ravens get with Jackson is someone who can both improvise and set out on designed runs, so he adds his own unpredictability factor in there. And you might add that Buffalo doesn’t position itself all that well to stop him or any other Baltimore ball carrier, allowing 4.7 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, the Ravens are right up there in pass defense, yielding just 217 yards a game and 5.9 yards per attempt, less than any other AFC team.
John Harbaugh’s teams often come down the stretch with a flourish. This could be such a caee, especially considering that Jackson now has a playoff win under his belt after a couple of failures. Yeah, we realize Buffalo had covered eight straight before last week’s non-cover against Indy. But this seems like a good situation to take the points.
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