The Ravens dispatched the Bills on Sunday, winning 24-17. The Ravens led by 15 points early in the fourth quarter, but a touchdown and two-point conversion by Josh Allen and Cole Beasley were able to trim the deficit to just seven points. Despite allowing three back-breaking penalties on the final drive, the Ravens stood firm as Marcus Peters batted away a pass intended for John Brown to seal the victory.
What did we learn?
Marcus Peters is worth the occasional headaches
Despite the occasional lapses in coverage and poor tackling at times, Peters once again saved the Ravens when they needed him too. While Peters’s two pick-sixes are well documented, his pass deflection on the final play against the Bills epitomizes what Peters brings to the table. Even when he’s not intercepting passes and returning them for touchdowns, he has an innate ability to make plays when necessary, as shown by his terrific defense on John Brown.
The Ravens can be slowed down on the ground
After averaging well over 200 yards rushing for the first 12 weeks of the season, the Ravens screeched to a halt, averaging well under four yards per rush against the Bills. While the Ravens still posted more than 100 yards on the ground, they came in smaller and smaller chunks than they had the first 12 games of the season.
The Bills were fantastic at keeping Mark Ingram, Lamar Jackson, and Gus Edwards under wraps. The Ravens now face the best rushing defense in the NFL, so the Ravens could be on upset alert if the pass offense doesn’t perform well.
Buffalo is legit
The Bills would need a miracle to win the AFC East, but they have nearly locked up a playoff spot. Even if the Bills were to lose in the next two games, they still hold the tiebreaker over the Titans, and the Titans face three potential playoff teams in three weeks. The Bills have a ferocious defense that can stop the pass and the run, and the offense is effective enough to be able to move the ball.
Josh Allen, while horrifically inefficient against the Ravens, has his moments of being clutch. Devin Singletary has been a stud at running back as he has sped through many opposing defenses. As the Bills have begun to transition into more of a Singletary-centric offense rather than a Frank Gore-centric offense, the Bills have been much more effective on the ground.
Hayden Hurst showcased his speed
On a long gallop to the end zone in the third quarter, Hayden Hurst set the season record for fastest Raven. It seems odd that a lumbering tight end such as Hurst beat out even the fastest efforts of Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown, but Hurst torched the Bills defense at a rate of 20.5 miles per hour. Hurst has been a valuable depth tight end in his two seasons of the NFL, but he could be poised for a breakout game if Mark Andrews can’t go on a short week.
The Ravens are on the cusp of greatness
With the Patriots losing to the Chiefs, the Ravens are now a full game clear of every team in the AFC. The Ravens only need two wins to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC. It is a similar story with the Chiefs, as Baltimore needs just two wins to gain enough clearance past the Chiefs.
In all likelihood, the Ravens need to beat the Jets and the Browns to clinch the number-one seed, as the Patriots and Chiefs have fairly easy endings to the regular season. There is a chance that the Ravens can lock up the conference heading into Week 17 so that they may rest their starters at home against the Steelers.
If the Ravens clinch the number one seed, it would be the first time in team history. The Ravens have not had a bye in the playoffs since 2006.
A look into the AFC playoff picture
The 11-2 Ravens are a game clear the Patriots and two games clear of the Chiefs in the AFC playoff picture. The Ravens can clinch the AFC North with a win in any of their final three games or a Steelers loss in any of their final three games. As mentioned above, the number one seed in the AFC would be clinched with some combination of two Ravens wins and New England or Kansas City losses.
The 9-4 Bills will walk in the Heinz Field with the five seed on the line. While the Bills have almost certainly blown their chance of winning the AFC East, a win over the Steelers would keep the five seed in the possession of the Bills. A Steelers win on Sunday night would give the Steelers the keys to the five seed moving into Week 16.
In a perfect world for the Bills, they can win out, and the Patriots lose an additional game against either the Dolphins or the Bengals to win the AFC East. It is incredibly unlikely that the Patriots lose to the Bengals or Dolphins, so the Bills need to play as well as possible in the final three games to ensure they make the playoffs and get a five seed to avoid the Chiefs or Patriots.
A look ahead to Week 15
The Ravens return home to face the 5-8 Jets on Thursday Night Football. The Jets present a stiff test as they have the NFL’s best rushing defense, set to be matched up against the NFL’s best rushing offense in Baltimore. Baltimore has been slowed slightly over the last couple weeks in terms of running the football, so it will be interesting to see if the Jets can keep the Ravens at bay.
The Bills travel to Pittsburgh to face the 8-5 Steelers on Sunday Night Football. It is the first Sunday Night Football appearance for the Bills in a dozen years as the last time they played in front of a national-TV audience they were soundly beaten by the eventual 16-0 Patriots. The Bills have not won a Sunday night game since Week 1 of 2000, and they haven’t won a night game against a non-divisional opponent since 2001.