Dominant defense? Check. Vanilla offense? Check. Brandon Stokley? Check. Last week’s game against the Texans was vintage 2000 Ravens, the defense scored touchdowns and the offense did enough to get field goals and the occasional rushing touchdown. This week’s game against the Buffalo Bills could be exactly the same. The Bills have rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel behind center and Mario Williams and company on defense, so let’s look at the matchups!
Quarterback E.J. Manuel has been one of the most impressive rookies out of the 2013 draft class so far. Running back C.J. Spiller, on the other hand, has probably been one of the most disappointing players so far this season; he only has 153 yards the past 3 games. Since 2008, the Ravens are 5 and 2 versus rookie quarterbacks, so this game does bode well for the Ravens. On the other hand, the Ravens’ new defense has yet to face a quarterback that can scramble and use his feet to extend the play, so they should have their hands full. Spiller will be looking to bounce after his poor start, but will probably be limited due to the knee injury. The Ravens will have to contain Manuel and prevent Spiller from cutting outside and using his speed to beat them. The Ravens’ will also be looking to extend the streak of not giving up a touchdown from 2 games to 3 games.
Williams was shut down last week against the Patriots after coming off a 4.5 sack game against the Panthers. McKinnie is coming off renting a party bus and getting Jacoby Jones hit over the head with a champagne bottle. McKinnie has looked slow at times so far this season, which he tried to make up for against the Texans by grabbing facemasks. Needless to say this is a big mismatch for McKinnie even though Williams has a nagging ankle injury. Expect Williams to get double teams with McKinnie and a tight end or Kelechi Osemele.
Last week the Ravens’ offense was vanilla and ineffective for the first half. More importantly, quarterback Joe Flacco couldn’t seem to do much against the Texan defense, 171 yards and no touchdowns. Flacco should be primed to have one of his best games of the season, two of the Bills’ cornerbacks are out, Cornerback Leodis McKelvin and safety Jarius Byrd and both listed as questionable, and Flacco has had three games to work with Wide Receivers Marlon Brown and Brandon Stokley, and Tight Ends Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson. Look for Flacco to put up huge number against the Bills.
Ray Rice is a game-time decision and whether or not he plays, Bernard Pierce will most likely see a majority of the carries. Pierce struggled against the Texans, only gaining 65 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries, but the Texans’ defense is one of the better ones in the league, so you can’t expect him to run all over them. The Bills have given up the third most rushing yards in the league, 465 yards to be exact. Going up against the Bills should be a breath of fresh air for the Ravens’ Running Backs; their previous three opponents are all ranked in the top ten teams for allowing the least amount of rushing yards. Expect a bigger game for Pierce and Rice than the previous games.