The Buffalo Bills are enjoying a special year, being 9-3 and painfully close to clinching a playoff spot. It would be just the second time Buffalo has made the playoffs this millennium, and this time it can happen with several weeks yet to play. Even the dream of a home playoff game is still alive, which can come to fruition with wins in what should be a really tough stretch of games, starting with the juggernaut Baltimore Ravens.
“John Harbaugh has been with his staff building this for ‘X’ amount of years, is the continuity, the consistency, being able to build it the way you want to build it. You’re seeing good football players at all positions. Talented, not just on the offensive side, but the defensive side and special teams,” said Bills head coach Sean McDermott. “You can always count on them being well-coached, having a good kicking game. Just being around John in Philadelphia like I was, they’re a motivated football team week to week because of his leadership and they’re a physical football team because of his leadership as well.”
That’s a football team that highly valued some of the same principles as the Bills, with a high-character head coach in John Harbaugh, who has been afforded the continuity to build a roster full of talented and hard-working players. They are close to each other, always giving support to their teammates and enjoying their time on the field together. This is also a team with a defensive identity established for a long time (fourth ranked defense in 2019, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric), and with a star-in-the-making QB showing improvement (2,532 passing yards, 25 TDs, just five INTs, 66.5 completion percentage and an 85.5 Pro Football Focus passing grade), their offense is stepping up this year. Remind you of anyone?
Both teams have a lot in common, with the Ravens ahead of schedule due to Harbaugh being there longer than McDermott in Buffalo. The Bills’ head coach is well aware of the challenges he’s going to face on Sunday, especially on the defensive side of the ball, with the Ravens’ offense being unstoppable of late. They lead the league with 207.8 rushing yards per game and are ranked second in total yards, gaining 420.8 yards per game. “Really good offense, really good team, well coached. They’re good at what they do”, noted McDermott. “Obviously, it’s a unique challenge for us and probably for most teams around the NFL because of the system that they run. We continue to work through it, and it’ll be a challenge for us”.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen, coming off of his best game as a pro, also offered some thoughts about the Ravens and Lamar Jackson: “It’s fun to watch. It’s very hard to describe what they do on offense. They run the ball so effectively. Lamar’s a passer. He can make every throw. I mean, it’s tough to stop and I’m going to hate watching it from our sideline, but it’s fun to watch from an outside perspective for sure because they can do so many different things. But at the same time, our offensive side has to focus on ourselves and what their defense does and how we’re playing them; how we go out there and execute and trust our defense going to go out there and play a heck of a game.”
It should be a great game, and the Bills are going to have — one week after an eye-opening performance against Dallas — another opportunity to earn respect around the league and establish themselves as true contenders in the AFC.