ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Bills have the chance to advance to the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1994 with a win over the Baltimore Ravens in Orchard Park.
Here's what the WKBW sports staff thinks will happen.
From a purely game script standpoint, last week couldn't have gone any worse for the Bills. The home team had terrible field position on almost every drive, the Colts finished the game with nearly 10 more minutes of possession and the Colts converted more than 50-percent of their third-down attempts. Yet the Bills still found a way to win the game.
The Ravens are no slouch, and if they can mimic what the Colts did last week, the Bills season will come to an end. But I'm not sure if they can.
One of the biggest keys in this game will be building an early lead. If the Bills are up, it will force the Ravens and Lamar Jackson to throw more than they'd probably like. If the Bills fall behind by more than a few scores, Baltimore will run the ball down their throats and kill as much clock as possible. Nobody can stop Lamar, but if the Bills can contain him like they did last season, they'll have a great chance at pulling out a win.
Baltimore does an exceptional job forcing turnovers and that's another major key to this game. Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley said it best this week, "any team that has turnover is going to lose the game so we’ve got to do a good job taking care of it.”
This is the Bills' toughest test yet and the Ravens have an exceptional team -- but so do the Bills. I'll give the edge to the team that's playing at home.
Bills 29, Ravens 28
Season record: 14-3
I had every intention of taking the Baltimore Ravens in this one. It's not that I think the Bills aren't talented enough, I just had a gut feeling the Ravens would somehow escape and come out on the winning side of things.
That was until I had a conversation with my dad, a Bills fan his entire life. We were talking about this chaotic season and what the Bills have been able to do since that playoff-drought ending season in 2017. I told him I was taking the Ravens this weekend because the Bills winning their division match up felt too good to be true and he said, "Jenna, when was the last time you really felt like this team could do something big?" I thought about it and I can't remember the last time I felt that way. I was alive during the four-year Super Bowl run back in the early to mid-90s but wasn't knowledgeable enough to understand exactly what happened.
This team is fun to watch. They're giving fans a reason to look forward to something in what's been a really difficult year. How can you not believe in and think this team can win another game?
So that's why I'm going with the Bills. Will it be difficult? I think so, in fact, I think it may come down to either a missed extra point or something weird like that. But with the Bills playing so well as of late, I can't pick against them.
Bills 24, Ravens 23
Season record: 13-4
It's been a while since I've gone back and forth about a pick this much. The "hot hand" argument that squeaked by against Indianapolis applies to Baltimore, too: they've won six straight games.
For the key to this match up, let's look back to a year ago when the Ravens looked like the best team in football. The Buffalo Bills might have been Lamar Jackson's biggest bump in the road of his MVP campaign: He threw for just 145 yards and ran for another 40.
Josh Allen, on the other hand, threw for just 146 yards and a touchdown of his own. This season, he's doubled that nine times. These two teams are among the class of the AFC. And if it doesn't come down to turnover margin, it could come down to which team has the ball last.
But this year, the MVP-caliber signal caller is on the Bills, not the Ravens. Look for Allen to work some of his fourth quarter magic to take this one back for Buffalo and survive to play another day.
Bills 26, Ravens 24
Season record: 11-6