Week 4 Preview: Bills vs. Ravens

The Bills, coming off a miserable road loss to the Jets, will return home as the defending Super Bowl champs come to town. This will be a hard-fought game by each team, as each look to improve their standings in the AFC.

What it Means

For the Bills, the embarrassing loss to the New York Jets exposed many of the defensive weaknesses. For the past few weeks, the pass rush was able to cover up the defense, but they were held in check, and thus, players like Justin Rogers were torn apart, mind you, by a quarterback like Geno Smith. The Bills are now 0-2 in the division, riddled with key injuries, and have some major problems that need to be addressed.

The Ravens are coming in with a two game winning streak, and hope to improve to a three game streak. The Bills’ weaknesses on defense were exposed in full effect last week, so expect to see some similar blitz packages on EJ Manuel. The Ravens have had a tough time getting started on the ground, but they are going against the 30th ranked rushing defense in the Bills, and if they can start explosively, the game could get out of hand quickly.

This game will be a tough matchup for the Bills, but winning third downs, playing defense, and actually scoring touchdowns is what it will take to bring down a team like the Ravens. Whoever plays a full four quarters can come away with the win.

Matchups to Watch

Aaron Williams vs. Torrey Smith

Buffalo’s secondary is depleted, and Flacco will definitely look to expose it again. Williams is most likely to be assigned to Smith because of the questionability of McKelvin. Smith is Flacco’s favorite deep and he can absolutely fly. If Flacco can connect with Smith on long balls, the defense would have to soften up, which would allow the Ravens to rush the football easily.

EJ Manuel vs. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees

Pressure was EJ Manuel’s absolute worst nightmare last week. He had trouble locating receivers, and if he did, he missed the target. Rex Ryan gave him no time to look or think, and Manuel’s inability to read the defense proved as the Bills’ offensive achilles heel. Dean Pees would have certainly watched some film from last week’s game and I expect him to call complex blitz packages to confuse the rookie again. If the Bills are unable to give Manuel a little time, then it will be a long day for the Bills.

Mario Williams vs. Bryant McKinnie

After coming up with a 4.5 sack game against the Panthers, Williams was virtually non-existent last week, along with the rest of the defensive line. McKinnie has played well, and we all have seen Williams’ ability to explode off the line. Because Flacco is not a scrambling quarterback, pressure can disrupt him. Setting the edge will also help contain the Ravens rushing offense. If Williams can draw more attention to himself, he will allow more space for Kyle Williams and Dareus more room to work with. They will be without Carrington for the year, but if Mario Williams can get pressure on Flacco and disrupt the run game, then the Bills’ secondary will not be too exposed.

The Bills Will Win If…

They are able to win third downs. On both sides of the ball, The Bills have been absolutely atrocious. They rank 27th on defense and 28th on offense. If the Bills want any chance of winning this game, then they have to keep their defense off the field because Flacco can tear them apart. CJ Spiller also has to do something. He is nowhere to be found and it is clearly hurting the Bills. Hackett has to get him going whether it be by screens, short passes, or runs to the outside. The offensive line really hasn’t done him a service either. Finally, the Bills need to score touchdowns. For them to have driven to the 10 yard line twice last week and only come up with 6 points is pathetic. No team can win games by kicking field goals, especially not against a team with such offensive talent as the Ravens.

The Ravens Will Win If…

They can run the football. The Bills are ranked 30th in the league against the run, and if they can get the run game going, the Ravens will be able to solidify the play-action fake. The Ravens also have to expose the Bills secondary with some long shots down the field. Flacco has quite the arm, Smith has great speed, and the Bills have nobody left to cover the receivers. Finally, if the Ravens can make Manuel uncomfortable like the Jets did, then this will be a relatively routine win, unless Spiller gets going. Then containing Spiller would be essential.

Prediction

This game will be a difficult game for the Bills. Injuries have accumulated and effected many starters, the defense is weak, and nobody knows what exactly happened to EJ Manuel last week. The Ravens, on the other hand, look solid and are riding a two game win streak. Although the Bills are playing at the Ralph, the Ravens are simply too much for the Bills to handle.

Ravens Win 27-14.

Go Bills!!!