Previewing the Ravens vs. Bills [Pictures]
As the Ravens (2-1) travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to take on the Buffalo Bills (1-2) on Sunday, here's Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson's checklist of key areas and people to keep an eye on.
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1.( Doug Pensinger, Getty Images / September 28, 2013 )
Will the running game get untracked?
The Ravens have struggled mightily this season to run the football, stalled out by a lack of consistent blocking, not enough broken tackles and a few instances where backs have missed holes.
The Ravens are ranked 25th in rushing offense, averaging 77.3 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry after gaining 118.8 per game and 4.3 yards per carry last season.
The team finished with 1,901 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns last year but is on pace to finish with 1,236 yards this season.
The Ravens haven't gotten enough push from center Gino Gradkowski and tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher. And that has made it even tougher for Bernard Pierce (144 yards, two touchdowns, 2.8 average per carry) and Rice (72 yards, one touchdown, 2.9 average per carry) to break into the secondary.
But the running game could be provided a boost by the combination of the Buffalo Bills' vulnerable run defense and the potential return of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who missed last week's game with a strained left hip flexor.
Despite the aggressive presence of rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive tackle Kyle Williams, the Bills have a porous run defense.
The Bills allowed unheralded New York Jets running back Bilal Powell to rush for 149 yards during a loss last week. They've surrendered 155 rushing yards per game, tied for 30th in the NFL.
The Ravens could gain traction and pick up a lot more yards on the ground Sunday.