1. Rookie Quarterback Leading The Way
Much of the focus on the Bills this season has centered on their new signal caller. Buffalo drafted Florida State product EJ Manuel with the No. 16 overall pick and he’s been the team’s starter since the preseason. Manuel has been solid in his first three NFL games, completing 59 percent of his passes and throwing for 689 yards and four touchdowns, with only one interception. He has the ability to run the read option, but is still more of a traditional pocket passer. Manuel has shown promise in his young career, and Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said that “his development has been so rapid.” The Ravens often try to confuse young quarterbacks and force them into mistakes, and that could certainly be the case again Sunday as the defense looks to continue a streak of eight straight quarters without allowing a touchdown.
2. Doug Marrone Is A First-Time NFL Head Coach
It’s a new era in Buffalo, as Doug Marrone took over for Chan Gailey as the 16th head coach in team history. Marrone had never been an NFL head coach prior to joining the Bills, and he accumulated a 25-25 record during his four seasons as the top man for Syracuse. Marrone, a former NFL offensive lineman, is known for being a good offensive mind. He was the New Orleans Saints’ offensive coordinator from 2006-2008 under Sean Payton, but then left in 2009 to return to his alma mater Syracuse as the head coach.
3. They Nearly Knocked Off The Patriots
Don’t write off Buffalo. With their rookie quarterback and new head coach, Buffalo went into New England in the season opener and almost knocked off the Patriots. The Bills led for nearly the entire second half before Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field in the final minute to set up a game-winning field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. The late field goal ruined a near-stunning upset to open the Bills’ season, but that game is also a reminder that Buffalo was very close to knocking off one of the AFC’s elite teams.
4. Leaky Run Defense
The Ravens are looking to get their running game established, and this may be the week to do it. The Bills have struggled to stop the run this year, giving up an average of 145.8 rushing yards per game, second worst in the NFL. The Bills have allowed an average of 5.0 yards per rushing attempt. They are dealing with some injuries to their defensive front, including defensive tackles Alex Carrington (quad), Kyle Williams (achilles) and Marcell Dareus (ankle), and the Ravens may look to exploit them on the ground.
5. They Are Banged Up
The Bills are dealing with injuries in more spots than just the interior of their defensive line. Starting running back C.J. Spiller (quad) and defensive end Mario Williams (ankle) both suffered injuries in last week’s game. Their secondary is depleted, as starting safety Jarius Byrd (foot) and top cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), Stephon Gimore (wrist) and Ron Brooks (foot) are all hurt. Starting wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring) has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the summer. Even kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin) is dealing with an injury, which forced Buffalo to add a free agent kicker just before the start of the regular season.