Baltimore (12-5) at Buffalo (14-3)
When: Saturday, January 16th, 2021
Where: Bills Stadium,
Orchard Park, NY
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Buffalo -2/49.5
It will be a battle of quarterbacks who rebounded from playoff losses a year ago to tangle in the frigid weather in Buffalo, NY. The Baltimore Ravens visit the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night in an AFC Divisional Playoff contest for the right to advance to the AFC Championship next week. Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson helped his team run over the Tennessee Titans last week in a 20-13 wild card victory, but will now face a much tougher defense in Buffalo. The fifth-seeded Ravens have been told to expect cold weather and snow and Jackson has already voice his displeasure with such elements. “That definitely would be my first time playing football in the snow if it does (snow),” said Jackson, a native of Pompano Beach, Fla. “Hopefully, it doesn’t.” Baltimore rushed for 236 yards, while holding the Titans to just 209 total yards. The Bills held on to dispatch the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 last weekend. It was the first playoff victory for the franchise since Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas led the team in 1995. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen completed 26-of-35 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 54 yards and one score on 11 carries.
The Bills are 2.5-point favorites as of Thursday night with a total set at 49.5. The two teams met last season with Baltimore pulling out a 24-17 road victory as 6.5-point favorites. The Bills were able to limit Jackson to just 40 yards on 11 rushes with a long of 16 yards. Jackson did throw for three touchdowns and 145 yards passing, while Allen passed for 146 yards and a score. Baltimore is currently 11-5-1 ATS with Buffalo about the same at 11-6.
Baltimore became one of the best teams in the NFL over the last month of the regular season after struggling early. Jackson rushed for 136 yards, averaging 8.6 yards a carry and ran in a touchdown last week at Tennessee. His favorite receiving target was Marquise Brown, who finished with 109 receiving yards and 15.6 yards per catch. Jackson passed for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 1,005 yards and seven scores during the regular season. He is the first quarterback in NFL history to top 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons. The Ravens rush defense showed the Titans a thing or two last week. Baltimore held Tennessee running back Derrick Henry to just 40 rushing yards, averaging 2.2 yards per carry. Baltimore cornerback Marcus Peters (back) and linebacker Matthew Judon (illness) didn’t participate in Baltimore’s walkthrough on Tuesday.
Allen’s 4,544 passing yards and 37 touchdowns were both within the Top-5 of the NFL. He added 421 yards and eight scores on the ground. The Bills placed running back Zack Moss (ankle) on injured reserve, leaving Devin Singletary as the main ball carrier this week. After an entire week of uncertainty with regards to the availability of wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley, they showed how dangerous this offense can be. Diggs recorded 128 receiving yards with a touchdown, while Beasley had 57 receiving yards. The defense last week was led by veteran safety Micah Hyde, who broke up three passes against the Colts, including a game ending Hail Mary and also picked up seven tackles. The Bills were not able to record a sack in the wild-card game, but the Ravens did allow five sacks to Tennessee.
This could be the best game of the weekend, but I think Buffalo has the edge playing at home. Jackson’s mobility could be limited in the weather and this Bills offense will be the difference.
Pick: Bills -2.5
Divisional Round Staff Selections