Sunday, September 29, 2013

Four Point Stance: Ravens at Bills


With a depleted secondary, the Buffalo Bills have had a hard time keeping teams off the scoreboard through three games. Against the Baltimore Ravens, they may have a harder time putting points on.

After a blowout loss in Week 1 at the hands of Peyton Manning's electric offense, the Ravens' defense has allowed just 15 points combined the last two weeks, giving up zero touchdowns. Much of that success can be tied to the unit's ability to disrupt plays in the backfield, an issue that plagued the Bills' offense in Week 3.

E.J. Manuel, who had running back C.J. Spiller at his disposal for only half of the team's eventual loss to the Jets, struggled to get into the end zone against Gang Green's defense. The rookie was sacked eight times and took another eight hits, mustering a mere 45 percent completion rate. If he and the offensive line can get past Baltimore's stout front seven, Buffalo's receivers could have a field day against the Ravens' sub-par secondary.


Fred-led offense. With a transition to more traditional run formations coupled with the ineffectiveness of Spiller, Fred Jackson has been the linchpin of the Bills' offense. The vet leads the team in rushing yards and is third in receptions, averaging 5.3 yards on the ground thus far. With Spiller banged up with a thigh injury, expect Buffalo to lean heavily on Jackson to gain some tough yards (and hopefully some first downs) against a strong rush defense.

The third degree. Most of the lapses in the Bills' game can be traced to third down, where the team has struggled on both sides of the ball. The offense is ranked 28th (31 percent) in conversion rate, while the defense isn't much better, ranked 27th (46 percent). The Ravens' execution has been much better, ranked 8th overall on offense and 19th on defense. Buffalo will need to look at its short-yardage conversions against the Ravens front seven, as the team has completed only 39 percent of its passes in third-and-short situations. The running game, in comparison, has completed 70 percent of its attempts.

Just enough to get by. If Buffalo's defense is going to step up and play like it's been hyped to, Sunday's game is it. Baltimore's efficiency on third down is one of the main reasons the offense has done anything thus far, ranked 30th overall. A bunch of new faces on the receiving corps coupled with the loss of Ray Rice, has crippled the Ravens' typical ground-and-pound style. If Kiko Alonzo and the Buffalo pass rush can blow up some rushing plays in the backfield, it'll force Joe Flacco into some third-and-longs, where he's completed only half his passes.

Catching it from both sides. The Ravens' pass pressure is contingent on its dynamic edge rushers, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who have tallied half of the team's sacks through the first three games along with 28 hits/hurries. The big match-up to watch will be Cordy Glenn vs. Suggs, who are both ranked in the top five at their respective positions, according to ProFootballFocus. Baltimore may focus its efforts on the right side and Erik Pears, whose hasn't allowed a sack but has given up two QB hits and four hurries.
A week in Bills posts at

Week 4 AFC East game picks: Ravens at Bills

Injury report: McKelvin, Byrd, Rice questionable

Web-wide AFC East power rankings: Week 4

Manuel working on keeping deep ball in bounds

Bills' run formations good for Fred, bad for C.J.

Marrone feels bad about losing 'leader' Carrington

Wood: 'If you dig a hole, that's the Jets' game'

Jets hit Manuel on one of every three dropbacks

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