Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less

Ravens Defense

Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:

No doubt, the Bills are potent, especially on offense. But the Ravens' offense should be able to move the ball, especially on the ground, and score enough points to keep up. The central question, as I see it, is whether Baltimore's defense can make enough plays to seal the deal.

A key question within that central question is how the Ravens will try to pressure Bills quarterback Josh Allen into making mistakes. They blitzed heavily in last year's win, but with Allen vastly improved, they have to be careful. I'm guessing Wink Martindale will mix concepts like a baseball pitcher.

Sorry to single out one guy, but situations like this are exactly why the Ravens acquired defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. He can win one-on-one matchups and generate pressure by himself. If he is a consistent factor, the Ravens can blitz less but still generate pressure while fortifying their pass defense.

After both exorcised some playoff demons last week (the Bills had a much hairier demon, having not won in the postseason since 1995), the Ravens and Bills both figure to be relaxed, feeling good about themselves and (drum roll) hungry for more. What a perfect matchup for prime time.

Lamar Jackson passed or ran on 45 of the offense's 64 snaps last week, and for sure, the Ravens' offense is most dangerous when he has the ball. But if more of a back-and-forth game breaks out in Buffalo, more handoffs to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards might be needed.

A potentially decisive matchup that's flying way under the radar: Only one defense other than Buffalo's allowed more receiving yards by tight ends during the 2020 season. The Ravens really only have one playmaking tight end at this point, but boy, a window of opportunity is open for Mark Andrews.

It was interesting to hear veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith compare this season to 2012, when the Ravens also dealt with quite a bit of adversity during the season before embarking on a playoff run. Good stuff, Jimmy. But I thought it was my job to point out parallels like that.

The four starting quarterbacks still alive in the NFC playoffs are 43, 41, 37 and 26 years old, while the AFC's four remaining starters are 25, 25, 24 and 24.: My take: Those old guys are future Hall of Famers, but the teams with the young guys wouldn't trade places.

In case you missed it amid the playoff hullaballoo, one of the most popular and genuine people ever to walk the halls of the Under Armour Performance Center retired from football earlier this week. Former Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano had been the Bears' DC for two years. Safe travels, Chuck.

Two AFC coaches now out of the playoffs are being knocked for conservatively punting in situations where they easily could have gone for it. Meanwhile, John Harbaugh went for it on fourth down late in the Tennessee win and lived to tell about it. Remember: Woe unto he who hesitates.

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