By Matt Vensel
10:00 AM EDT, September 27, 2013
I considered cracking my crystal ball into pieces after I struck out with my four predictions for the Cleveland Browns game, but it served me well last week, when I foresaw a win over the Houston Texans and predicted that the Ravens would shut down Arian Foster. This week, with the Ravens playing the Buffalo Bills, I am feeling a four-for-four week with my predictions.
1. TORREY SMITH WILL TORCH THE BUFFALO SECONDARY:
Smith has 16 catches for 269 yards this season, but the wide-out has yet to find the end zone. That will change Sunday when the Ravens face a banged-up Bills secondary. Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks were all on the injury report, as was free safety Jairus Byrd, who has yet to play this season due to a foot injury. The New York Jets took advantage last week, with Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill each beating cornerback Justin Rogers, whom the Bills were forced to start, for long touchdowns. Look for Smith, one of the NFL’s fastest receivers, to do it at least once, too.
2. MATT ELAM WILL GET HIS FIRST CAREER INTERCEPTION:
Elam, the team’s 2013 first-round pick, has not been tested much since replacing free safety Michael Huff in the starting lineup. Often lining up as a deep safety, Elam made five tackles in each of his first two starts and knocked down a pass against the Texans. Against fellow rookie E.J. Manuel, whom Elam picked off last year when his Florida Gators played Manuel’s Florida State Seminoles, Elam will get his hands on the ball again, but he will hang on this time for his first NFL interception. My crystal ball is cloudy when it comes to predicting whether Elam will pull an Ed Reed and take it to the house.
3. ED DICKSON WILL BREAK OUT WITH FIVE RECEPTIONS:
The Ravens have been counting on the fourth-year tight end to pick up some of the slack for Dennis Pitta, who is expected to miss most of the season with a hip injury. But Dickson has disappointed, with just one catch for 13 yards in three games. Even though Dickson is the superior athlete, the Ravens have been taking him off the field on passing downs in favor of veteran newcomer Dallas Clark. But Dickson is due for a breakout game, so why not Sunday? The Bills are undermanned in the secondary and the Ravens know they have to get Dickson going. I can see him having a productive day.
4. THE RAVENS DEFENSE WON’T ALLOW A TOUCHDOWN:
Since getting picked apart in the Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos, the Ravens defense has not allowed a touchdown the past two games. In fact, they have scored one more touchdown over that span than they have allowed. You can thank Daryl Smith for that. It was the first time since the start of the 2010 season that the Ravens had kept their opponents out of the end zone in back-to-back games. The Ravens have been stuffing the run, harassing quarterbacks and limiting the big plays. That will continue against the Bills and their rookie quarterback, who won’t set foot in the end zone.
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