Here’s how The Baltimore Sun sports staff views the outcome of Saturday night’s AFC divisional-round game between the Ravens and the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium:
C.J. Doon, editor
Ravens 23, Bills 20: This game will be a fascinating chess match. How will the Bills slow down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ potent rushing attack? How will the Ravens defend Josh Allen and the Bills’ dynamic receivers? How will the play-callers adjust to the weather conditions? Ultimately, the Buffalo defense will be easier to exploit, considering the Bills ranked 25th in expected points added (EPA) allowed per rush this season and are weak on the interior. If Jackson and Co. punish the Bills on the ground and the Ravens force Allen into making some bad decisions, Baltimore should be able to reach its first AFC title game in nearly a decade.
Daniel Oyefusi, reporter
Ravens 26, Bills 23: The Ravens reconstructed their defensive front in the offseason to stymie a team like the Tennessee Titans in last week’s wild-card-round win. Their secondary was stockpiled with depth to defend against a team like the Buffalo Bills, who have become one of the top teams in the league behind the dynamic pairing of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. Allen is much improved from last season’s meeting, but I trust defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale will do enough to make him uncomfortable, while Lamar Jackson and Co. run the ball a little more efficiently against Buffalo’s defense and control the clock.
Mike Preston, columnist
Ravens 28, Bills 24: When the regular season ended, I thought Buffalo had the second best team in the AFC behind Kansas City. Then I watched the Bills struggle in their playoff win against Indianapolis last week and couldn’t determine if they were just having a bad day or if they had hit their peak too early. I have struggled trying to determine the winner of this game, but it did bring me back to my old philosophy: The NFL is pass happy, but the team that can stop the run and run the ball best in the postseason wins.
Jonas Shaffer, reporter
Bills 28, Ravens 27: The last time the Ravens faced a team as complete as Buffalo’s, it was Week 3, and the Chiefs were blowing them out. The Ravens have weathered a lot in the three months since, and they’re back to being one of the NFL’s most well-rounded contenders. But the Bills are remarkably balanced, too. Just as importantly, Josh Allen has turned into a more reliable passer than Lamar Jackson. In a coin-flip game like this, it’s safer just to trust the home team.
Childs Walker, reporter
Ravens 30, Bills 24: Lamar Jackson will move the ball against a defense that allowed 472 yards against the Colts, but he’ll need to finish drives in the end zone to stay ahead of the Bills’ first-down machine. The Ravens haven’t faced this good a passing offense since the Chiefs blew them out in Week 3. They’ll have to keep Josh Allen in the pocket and play their best coverage game of the season to limit Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Ultimately, they have the right players to match up with the Bills on both sides of the ball.