Their track record under coach John Harbaugh suggests this should be quite a Homecoming today at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens, who are favored by 13 points over the Bills, are 8-0 under Harbaugh when they are double-digit favorites. They are 13-1 in the Harbaugh era against teams with losing records. And under Harbaugh, they've never lost to a team that failed to make the playoffs that season.
That's why Harbaugh looks as if he is ready to deliver a devastating blow to the head to anyone who talks about the prospect of the Ravens (4-2) overlooking Buffalo (0-5), one of the two winless teams in the NFL.
"I can't imagine our guys taking anyone for granted in this league," Harbaugh said. "Do we have a history of taking teams lightly here? I don't think we do. I get asked that question all the time and I get disinterested in it. I trust our guys and we're going to be ready to play."
If the Ravens would ever fall victim to a "trap game," it would be Sunday against the self-professed "laughingstock of the National Football League," the exact words used by Bills safety Donte Whitner. Off to its worst start in 25 years, Buffalo has already cut its starting quarterback (Trent Edwards) and traded its leading rusher (Marshawn Lynch).
The Bills' defense, which is ranked 29th, has given up at least 34 points in four straight games. Their offense, which is ranked 30th, has scored the seventh-fewest points in the league.
It's gotten so bad that an ESPN reporter went to Buffalo a few days ago to ask how close would a game be between the Bills and a United Football League team?
"That's saying that we're minor-league, that a minor-league team could compete with us," Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "The thing that makes me mad is we put ourselves in this situation. If we're winning games or competitive, then you're not talking to me about this. But it's our fault. It's my fault. We've got to fix it."
The temptation for the Ravens is to look ahead to next week's bye. But Harbaugh said it hasn't been tough to focus on the task at hand "based on the way we've practiced." According to Harbaugh, this has been one of the best weeks of practice of the season, if not the best one.
"I think [the Bills are] going to be highly motivated. They're going to be determined," Harbaugh said. "They're very prideful. They've got a lot of guys that we just know their history as players and coaches. They're going to want to make a statement."
The Ravens have been the ones who have made statements in these types of games. When they've been favored by double digits, they've won by an average margin of 20.6 points.
"We prepare every week as if this is a must-win game for us," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "We understand that in this league, any team can be beaten in any week. We take every opponent very seriously. It doesn't matter if you have a winning record or not."
If nothing else, this game will be memorable because it marks Reed's first game of the season and his first one at home in 329 days (his last one was Nov. 29, 2009).
Reed, who had offseason hip surgery, was activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list Saturday. With the most interceptions in the NFL since he entered the league in 2002, Reed should boost a secondary that has had only two picks this season.
"He makes plays that nobody else can make," cornerback Chris Carr said. "Some might be able to see it but they might not have the courage to just go and get it like he does."
The way Reed freelances causes quarterbacks to guess where the six-time Pro Bowl safety will be. That causes an unpredictability factor for his Ravens teammates, too.
"A lot of times you'll be in coverage and you'll be like, 'What the heck are you doing here?,'" linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "When he sees something, he's going to go with it."
When Reed gets his hands on the ball, he's extremely dangerous. He has scored 13 touchdowns in his nine-year career.
"He makes their already tough defense even tougher," Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said.
On a day when the Ravens get one of the game's greatest safeties back, they will honor the greatest team in their history.
Over 35 members from the 2000 team (a list that includes quarterback Trent Dilfer, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, running back Jamal Lewis and defensive tackle Tony Siragusa) will return to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the only Super Bowl championship in Ravens history.
Harry Swayne, the starting right tackle for the Super Bowl team who is now the Ravens' assistant director of player programs, said the presence of the 2000 team will have an effect on the current one. He has noticed players looking at the large color team photo that hangs outside their lounge, which commemorates the Super Bowl team.
"They know a lot of former players from that team will be watching them," Swayne said. "It was no different than, when my dad wasn't at my little league game, I played good. When he was there, I was like a beast."
During pre-game introductions, the players from the Super Bowl team will line up to form a gauntlet for the current Ravens. The Ravens will introduce its defense, so linebacker Ray Lewis (the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV) will be the final one out of the tunnel. At halftime, the former champions will be introduced one by one.
"A champion is always a champion," Lewis said. "The feeling of that confetti dropping and looking at those men's eyes — you recreate that moment coming back 10 years later. Seeing those guys come back is just a heck of a reward. And for that to be this week, I think that's going to be huge. Not just for us, but for our fans as well in Baltimore."
twitter.com/jamisonhensley DateTeamSpreadResult12-28-08vs. Jacksonville-11W, 27-79-13-09vs. Kansas City-13W, 38-249-27-09vs. Cleveland-13 ½W, 34-311-16-09at Cleveland-11W, 16-012-13-09vs. Detroit-13 ½W, 48-312-20-09vs. Chicago-11W, 31-71-3-10at Oakland-10 ½W, 21-139-26-10vs. Cleveland-13W, 24-17The Ravens, who are 13-point favorites over the Buffalo Bills, are 8-0 under coach John Harbaugh when they are double-digit favorites, winning by an average of 20.6 points:
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