The Baltimore Ravens are taking their talents to upstate New York this weekend to face the Buffalo Bills. The Bills may only have one win on the season so far, but that is no reason for the Ravens to doubt the Bills’ ability to compete on Sunday.
Here’s a breakdown of what the Ravens need to watch out for as well as weaknesses the Bills have that the team can capitalize on.
1. E.J. Manuel
All eyes have been on Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel since the 2013 draft. Manuel went 16th overall after having a standout senior season as the starting quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles. Manuel has thrown for 689 yards and has recorded four touchdowns for the Bills heading into Week 4.
The rookie quarterback has shown the potential to have a solid season for the Bills so far and could use his ability to think on his feet to outsmart the Ravens defense. Manuel has quick feet and is elusive in the pocket, being able to scramble when his pass options are not there. The Ravens must be ready to move and stop Manuel if he takes off out of the pocket.
2. Close games for the Bills
The Bills have gone 1-2 so far in the 2013 season, but every game has been decided by a touchdown or less. In Week 1, the Bills fell short by two points to the New England Patriots. A week later, they barely pulled out the win against the Carolina Panthers, winning by only a point. Last week, they lost to the New York Jets by a touchdown.
The Week 1 loss to the Patriots did not come without a battle for the Bills. Manuel led the team and dominated the Pats during the second half, only to let the Patriots score late in the fourth quarter. The Ravens need to take that game into consideration this weekend since the Bills almost took down one of the conference’s best teams.
The Ravens have suffered their share of injuries this season, but they are not the only team. Seven starters on the Bills’ roster are battling injuries, including starting running back C.J. Spiller, who has a quad injury, and starting safety Jarius Byrd, who is recovering from a foot injury.
Whether the injured players will be out on the field for the game on Sunday or not, the Ravens can use the Bills’ injuries to their advantage. If a starter is sidelined for the game, the Ravens need to tighten up the game against the replacements. If the starters play through the injury, the team needs to capitalize on the player not being at one-hundred percent.
4. Take advantage of Rice and Pierce
Ravens running back Ray Rice sat out last weekend after suffering a hip injury in Week 2. But Rice has been back out on the practice field and could play on Sunday. Bernard Pierce has stepped up for the Ravens after Rice’s injury and has been a dominant factor for the Ravens offense.
If Rice and Pierce are both in the lineup for Sunday’s game, the Ravens will need to establish the run game early. The Bills have not been very effective on stopping the run so far this season and Ravens could take advantage of that with two solid running backs carrying the ball.