Buffalo Bills vs Ravens: Divisional Round playoff preview, predictions

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills shakes hands with Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills shakes hands with Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /
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Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills drops back to pass against the Baltimore Ravens. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Bills and Josh Allen presents Ravens’ defense toughest test to date

It’s no secret that the formula for beating the Ravens is keeping Jackson in the pocket.

But that is much easier said than done.

What needs to unfold on a play-to-play basis, in word alone, is simple. All four pass rushers must win at their points of contact, with the ends closing the pocket and the tackles ensuring Jackson doesn’t step up. Add in a linebacker (or two) to spy the quarterback, and there you have it, the Bills are playing for a berth in the Super Bowl.

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But accounting for the human (or inhuman) element of Jackson’s feet is impossible. He will get out, he will make linebackers look silly, and he will impact the game. It’s just about mitigating how much you let Jackson take over.

It’s going to be a big day for Matt Milano. Currently, he resides squarely in Jackson’s highlight reel, as the Ravens pivot broke Milano’s ankles on a beautiful run when the Ravens played the Bills last season.

As a perimeter linebacker, much of the responsibility for containing Jackson falls on Milano, who will need to cover sideline to sideline to keep the Bills in the game.

This section also contains the answer to why so many Bills fans likely wanted to see the Steelers in this round instead of the Ravens, All season, Buffalo has struggled to defend the run. This ineptitude showed through against Indianapolis, where Jonathan Taylor almost put the Bills out of the playoffs.

The Bills dodged most of the top rushing teams in the league this season, save for the New England Patriots. The difference is the Patriots run out of necessity. The Ravens run because they can.

If the Ravens start shortening the game and wearing down the Bills’ defence with the run game, more pressure will be put on each Josh Allen-led drive. Facing him is a vaunted pass defence that features Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters lurking in the shadows.

Humphrey is a corner straight out of the ’80s. Physical and unafraid of helping in the box, he is the leader of the Baltimore secondary. Peters is more of a gambler. He gives up his fair share of plays, but he also gets his fair share of picks. Part of Allen’s game is living on the edge, but given the fact that Baltimore can milk the clock by leaning on the Bills’ front seven, turnovers gain a new level of importance.

Extras and prediction

Jackson and Allen share more than just a draft class. This is the first time that both quarterbacks have made it past the first round, with Jackson losing to the Chargers in 2018 and the Titans in 2019, and Allen losing to the Texans in 2019.

There is a chance of snow showers on gameday, and temperatures will be hovering just above freezing.

The Ravens’ rushing attack is a huge concern, as their ability to condense the game puts added onus on each Bills possession. Even so, now that the Bills are over their playoff hump, there’s no stopping them.

This one comes down to a Tyler Bass field goal: 23-20 Bills

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How far do you see the Bills going in the playoffs? Let us know in the comments below!