The Buffalo Bills continue their 2022 season on the road this Sunday when they take on the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium at 1:00 PM. Buffalo is coming off of its first loss of the season, getting netted by the Dolphins 21-19 down in Miami. Can the Bills bounce back against the Ravens? Here are the top five things I believe they need to do to right the ship on Sunday.
17 + 14 = WIN
This one could have also been called “throw the damn ball,” as Buffalo’s biggest weapon so far in 2022 is also the Ravens’ biggest weakness. Heading into Week 4, Josh Allen leads the NFL with 1,014 passing yards. If he kept that pace for 17 weeks, he would become the NFL’s single-season passing champion. Allen also has nine passing touchdowns, good enough for second most so far this season, only behind Ravens’ Lamar Jackson (we’ll get to him later). As for Stefon Diggs, he is pacing towards a shot at the WR triple crown. The Bills’ wideout tops the league in yards and touchdowns while being second in receptions.
As far as the Ravens’ defense is concerned… they stink against the pass this year. Baltimore is 32nd in the league in yards allowed at 353.3 per game. That is over 50 yards per game worse than 31st-ranked Miami. To go a step further, the Bills have the second-best grade per pass route run, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Meanwhile, the Ravens are the second worst at tackling, per PFF. That is a dangerous combo in the favor of our friends from Western New York.
Bend Don’t Break
The Ravens enter this matchup with the third-best red zone touchdown rate in the NFL. Baltimore is converting those trips inside the 20 into TDs 80% of the time. That is just behind the Titans and the Lions who are first and second, respectively. The Bills sit at 11th with a conversion rate of 63.64%. Buffalo’s defense has been gashed in the red zone and allowed a trip to paydirt on 83.33% of opponents’ opportunities. That’s a big YIKERS! Holding Lamar Jackson and company to field goal attempts instead of touchdowns could go a long way to the Bills getting back on the winning side of the ledger.
Lamar’nt Going To Beat Us
Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson is currently second in the MVP race (behind Josh Allen) for a reason. He is tearing it up early in 2022 and just earned the Offensive Player of the Month award for the AFC. As I noted in my “Keys to Victory” article, Lamar has thrown for 749 yards and a league-leading 10 TDs. The former Heisman Trophy winner has added 243 more on the ground with another pair of touchdowns. This is a cut-off the dead and the body will fall scenario. If the Bills slow down Jackson, the Ravens’ offense will come to a screeching halt. I know this is easier said than done, but the athleticism of guys like Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds, and Von Miller should come in handy in the Buffalo front seven.
Find a Run Game
The numbers aren’t great when it comes to the Bills and running the ball, but even as amazing as Josh Allen has become with his arm, the squad still needs to figure something out on the ground that doesn’t involve #17. It starts with run blocking. The Bills are currently last in run block grade at 40.6, according to PFF. That’s over eight points worse than the 31st-ranked Seattle Seahawks. The Bills have zero rushing touchdowns from running backs and only 80 rushing yards from Devin Singletary and 78 from Zack Moss. Those numbers rank 48th and 52nd in the NFL, respectively. In conclusion, Buffalo doesn’t need to run more, but figure out how to run more effectively.
ALL GAS, NO BRAKES
As noted above, the Bills have the best passing game in the NFL through three games. I don’t care what the score looks like in the third quarter – they need to continue to utilize Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and Dawson Knox. Also, as noted above, the Bills have not been able to run the ball, so grinding the ball into the ground appears certain to backfire should they have a lead late. We know the Ravens have an explosive offense and can put up points in bunches if they need to, so don’t give them that chance. Learn from what Baltimore did in Week 2 in letting Miami back in the game. If the Bills get the lead, they need to keep the throttle to the floor.
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