Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, M&T Bank Stadium
TV: Channel 13, WJZ (Baltimore)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM) & 98Rock (97.9FM).
Week 1 is the opening statement of the season. A team's identity begins to take shape. Starters like quarterback Joe Flacco, safety Eric Weddle and linebacker Terrell Suggs will finally play a full game, not just a few snaps. There has been plenty of talk about wide receivers Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV, but they haven't played four quarters with Flacco. Sunday will be their first chance to show how explosive this offense could be. This will also be the regular-season debut for the defense under new Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. It's a long season, but starting with a victory is important, especially with a Thursday night game in Cincinnati looming four days later.
The Ravens also opened the 2016 season at home against the Bills, and it was defensive battle won by Baltimore, 13-7. Rex Ryan was the Bills' head coach, Tyrod Taylor was the Bills' starting quarterback, Justin Forsett was the Ravens' leading rusher with 41 yards, and Mike Wallace was Baltimore's leading receiver with 91 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown in his first game as a Raven. None of them will be playing Sunday, another example of how quickly things change in the NFL. The Ravens have a slight 4-3 edge over the Bills in the all-time series. The Bills have one once in four trips to M&T Bank Stadium.
Pumped-Up Ravens Defense vs. Bills QB Nathan Peterman
Peterman earned the starting job during preseason, but how much has the second-year quarterback really improved? The Ravens led the NFL in takeaways in 2017, and turnovers were a major problem for Peterman as a rookie. He threw five picks in the first half of his first career start. Plenty will be working against Peterman in front of a noisy crowd looking to unnerve him. Hard to see the Bills pulling off an upset unless Peterman is solid.
Answers on How Lamar Jackson Will Be Used
Will the Ravens use Jackson a few plays, not at all, or give him multiple touches as a runner, passer, or receiver? How much Jackson plays could change from week-to-week, but the rookie quarterback is an intriguing new X-factor for the Ravens. Their hope is that he will make big plays in multiple ways. Whenever Jackson takes the field Sunday, buzz is guaranteed.
Ravens Secondary Without Suspended CB Jimmy Smith
When Smith missed time in the past, the Ravens' defense suffered. He will miss the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's conduct policy, but the Ravens believe their secondary has never been deeper or better able to cope with Smith's absence.
Players to Watch
RB Alex Collins
He had three carries during the preseason, as the Ravens kept him fresh and healthy. Collins is like a new car, and he will finally turn the key Sunday after a breakout 2017 season.
OLB Terrell Suggs
In his 16th season, Suggs retains his joy for the game and remains a catalyst for the defense. Getting to the quarterback and making game-changing plays are still his forte. Suggs will be going against second-year pro Dion Dawkins, who takes over for traded Cordy Glenn at left tackle.
WR John Brown
No offensive player looked better than Brown during training camp. Expect Flacco to target Brown long distance once, if not multiple times.