The Ravens’ road to the Super Bowl won’t go through the defending champions. Not yet, anyway.
With the Cleveland Browns’ stunning upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, the fifth-seeded Ravens will face the second-seeded Buffalo Bills in the divisional round Saturday night. Kickoff at Bills Stadium is scheduled for 8:15, and the game will be broadcast on NBC.
The top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, the favorites to repeat as NFL champions, will face the sixth-seeded Browns at 3:05 p.m. Sunday. Under the NFL’s playoff schedule rules, the Ravens would have advanced to play Kansas City and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes had the third-seeded Steelers won Sunday.
Both the Ravens and AFC East champion Bills are coming off breakthrough victories. The Ravens’ 20-13 comeback win Sunday over the Tennessee Titans was their first postseason victory since the 2014 season. Buffalo’s 27-24 win Saturday over the Indianapolis Colts was even more long-awaited, ending an 0-6 skid and 25-year winless stretch in the playoffs.
The Ravens’ 24-17 win in Buffalo last season marked a rare off-day for quarterback Lamar Jackson (145 passing yards, 40 rushing yards and three touchdowns) and a record-breaking offense. The Bills held the Ravens to 118 rushing yards (3.6 per carry) and 257 yards overall, their fewest all season. But a relentless Ravens blitz rattled quarterback Josh Allen, who was sacked six times and finished 17-for-39 for 146 yards and a touchdown.
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That Buffalo team ended up losing in the wild-card round. This Bills team, which has won six straight games, is a much-improved version. With Allen turning into an All-Pro performer and former Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs leading the NFL in receiving yards, Buffalo had the NFL’s third-most efficient passing offense in the regular season, according to Football Outsiders.
The Bills ranked No. 5 in overall offensive efficiency, No. 12 in defensive efficiency and No. 4 in special teams efficiency, making them one of the NFL’s most balanced teams.
The weather could also be a big factor. According to The Weather Channel’s forecast, there will be occasional snow showers Saturday in Buffalo with temperatures in the low to mid-30s and 10 to 20 mph winds. Chance of snow is 40%, with snowfall around 1 inch.
Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
TV: Chs. 11, 4
Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM