Sunday’s Ravens-Bills game at M&T Bank Stadium will not be played in prime time, but a strong case can be made that it’s the marquee game of Week 4.
The showdown between division favorites features two of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, which are led by MVP front-runners Lamar Jackson of the Ravens (2-1) and Josh Allen of Buffalo (2-1). Jackson leads the league in touchdown passes (10), total touchdowns (12) and quarterback rating (119.0), while Allen leads in passing yards (1,014) and is second in touchdowns passes (nine).
“Best game of the week,” Fansided’s Matt Verderame wrote. “Arguably the top two quarterbacks through the first three weeks going at it.”
Not surprisingly, most pundits expect a shootout. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, only 12 of the 45 pundits we sampled are predicting a Ravens victory.
It’s only the third time the Ravens have been underdogs at home since Jackson became the starting quarterback during the 2018 season. Baltimore won both times, over the New England Patriots in 2019 and Kansas City Chiefs in 2021.
Here’s a sample of what the pundits are saying about the game:
Allen will exploit the Ravens defense.
CBS Sports’ John Breech: “Allen is the only QB in the NFL who has gone over 1,000 passing yards through three games this year, and based on how the Ravens are playing, Allen might top 1,000 yards in Week 4 alone. At this point, I think the only way the Ravens can slow Allen down is if they put Lamar Jackson on defense, but that might be too much to ask.”
Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith: “I think both quarterbacks will play well, but the Ravens’ defense is going to give Josh Allen a few more big-play opportunities.”
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: “The Ravens could not cover New England’s DeVante Parker, so what might Allen and [wide recover Stefon] Diggs do against the league’s 32nd-ranked pass defense?”
NBC Sports’ Chris Simms: “The Ravens defense is the worst defense in football. … The front seven is really the major problem, and I just feel they’re going to be in too many compromised positions. Like, ‘Oh, we gotta blitz because we can’t get close to Josh Allen.’ OK, well then he’s gonna torch you. ‘Let’s just rush four and be safe because he’s torching us.’ Well then he’s going to pick you apart surgically.”
If the Bills get a lead, the Ravens won’t be able to come back.
Bleacher Report’s Greg Ivory: “The Bills have proved they can play from behind, whereas the Ravens continue to be successful when maintaining a lead — not necessarily playing from behind. I’m taking Buffalo with confidence!”
TheBills will be highly motivated after last week’s frustrating loss in Miami.
Around the NFL’s Dan Hanzus: “They might drop a bomb on the Ravens. And maybe it won’t be a blowout because of Buffalo’s injuries in the back end against a guy as amazing as Lamar will keep the game close, but I think it could be one of those Bills offensive performances where they don’t punt.”
Jackson will outplay Allen andleadthe Ravens to victory.
Fansided’s Matt Verderame: “[Jackson and Allen] have accounted for more than 85 percent of their team’s offense. In this matchup, Lamar Jackson gets the best of Josh Allen.”
The key for the Ravens is to get the running game going.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec: “The Ravens have to figure out a way to run the ball against the league’s best run defense. If they are able to do that, that would limit the number of third-and-longs they’re in, help neutralize the Bills pass rush and give fewer possessions for Allen. Plus, the forecast for Sunday in Baltimore isn’t good. It could be one of those games in which the elements make it very difficult to rely heavily on the downfield passing game.”
The Bills’ injury issuescould give the Ravens the edge.
Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich: “On paper, this matchup favors the Bills. However, the Ravens are looking to avenge that Miami loss in the home opener and Buffalo is dealing with numerous injuries. The Ravens pull off the upset.”
The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia: “There’s a scenario where Allen lights up this Ravens defense and the Bills’ pass rush harasses Jackson all afternoon. But given how banged up the Bills’ secondary is and how grueling that Week 3 game was, I’m going with Baltimore.”
Simms: “The only thing I worry about for the Bills is the health of their football team. Their injury list seems rather long right now.”
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: “The Bills are playing consecutive road games, which is always tough. But they are also coming off their first loss and have major injury issues.”
The Bills didn't get much good injury news. WR Gabe Davis didn't practice today after hurting his ankle Wednesday.
Starting DT Jordan Phillips (hamstring) remains sidelined. A bunch of other contributors were limited Thursday. pic.twitter.com/whoYT1XV6M
There’s no question that Jackson and the Ravens offense have been amazing this season, but The Ringer’s Steven Ruiz doesn’t believe it’s sustainable.
“Some key underlying numbers suggest this league-leading offense is really just a house of cards that’s being propped up by Lamar’s individual brilliance,” Ruiz wrote. “And so far, the answer to the most pressing question facing [Coordinator Greg] Roman and his offense this year — can it put together a fully functional dropback passing game that isn’t solely powered by Lamar’s unique mobility? — is no.
“In order to illustrate how dependent Baltimore has been on Lamar’s legs over the first three weeks of the season, let’s break down how the offense is moving the ball. Outside of the red zone, the Ravens currently rank eighth in total EPA, per TruMedia. But how much of that is just Lamar? Take scrambles out of the equation and the Ravens drop down to 11th. Only four passers have generated more production on scrambles. And if you take out QB runs altogether, the Ravens drop to 15th. What that means is: The offense has been elite when Lamar ends up running with the football. When the ball ends up in someone else’s hands, it’s been about average—and that’s not even giving Lamar credit for the attention he attracts in the run game when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. Then, when you exclude scrambles, designed QB keepers, and read-option plays, the Ravens rank last in EPA per rush and 30th in success rate.
“Having the quarterback read an unblocked defender tilts the numbers back toward the offense’s favor — and linebackers’ eyes are constantly glued to Lamar when he’s a threat to run—which gives Roman a privilege that few coordinators enjoy to this extent. But when Baltimore has run from under center, which eliminates the quarterback run threat, the results are ugly.”
Ruiz listed statistics for his contention that the Ravens haven’t performed well in the run game when Jackson is under center, although some took issue with his methodology on Twitter.
I even agree that the UC run game hasn't been great, but there are some issues here.
Why do these tables not match? 13 rushes from UC to 20. Which is it?
There's also something weird with the internal table logic. How do you get 28.6% SR on 13 runs? (you don't, 28.6% = 4/14) pic.twitter.com/8qXJTja49E
.@Dev_Duv5 discusses how AFC Offensive Player of the Month, @Lj_era8, has elevated the @Ravens game this season with @AndrewSiciliano. pic.twitter.com/GftsjXyKKa
Ravens rookies take center stage more quickly than expected with injuries to key veterans mounting https://t.co/lDeHnEkUXz
.@ravens rookie center played a very good game in his 3rd start @TLinderbaum such a great leverage player and then great feet and combined with strength. Winning his matchups up front make @Lj_era8 that much more awesome #RavensFlock #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/LbBn1mwpq1
Mark Andrews this season:
⚫️ 89.7 PFF grade 🥇
🟣 87.8 REC grade 🥇
⚫️ 72.4 RBLK grade (9th)
🟣 22 receptions 🥇
⚫️ 245 yards 🥇
🟣 3 TDs 🥇
⚫️ 15 first downs 🥇
🟣 2.75 yards per route run 🥇
TE1 – is it even up for debate? pic.twitter.com/GnSQO5KFPK
Breaking down the 2-1 teams..
Sheesh ‼️👀 pic.twitter.com/u8pXvPYsxv
ESPN Analytics ranks Mark Andrews as the No. 1 pass-catcher in the NFL. Sunday’s Ravens-Bills game profiles as a ‘modern NFL air show.’ Lamar Jackson is not in the top two in NFL.com’s quarterback rankings.
Bill Belichick’s game plan was focused on stopping Rashod Bateman. Jackson continues to destroy blitz narrative. The Ravens have the No. 1 offense and special teams, based on metrics.
Ravens could use a third cornerback to emerge. The Ravens are a home underdog against the Bills this Sunday.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman praised for play calling and adjustments. Ravens offense ‘the scariest version’ we’ve seen. Calais Campbell hopes for the best for injured Patriots QB Mac Jones.
Rashod Bateman is ranked among the top 5 big-play wide receivers. Reaction to the Ravens reportedly agreeing to terms with Jason Pierre-Paul. Trade proposal has Ravens acquiring Seahawks cornerback.
Bill Belichick says Lamar Jackson has ‘more than answered’ questions about him as a pocket passer. Three ways the running game can improve.
The Ravens are among the scariest teams in the NFL. Justin Tucker’s pregame routine is inspired by Adam Vinatieri. Lamar Jackson rises in Offensive Player Rankings.
Lamar Jackson is among the early MVP favorites. The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec says going for it on fourth-and-short in the fourth quarter ‘was absolutely the right decision.’
Media calls for Ravens to “pay that man” after Lamar Jackson’s MVP-like performance. Ravens passing offense continues to make splash plays.
Majority of pundits predict Baltimore will prevail over Miami by handling the blitz better and getting after Tua Tagovailoa up front.
A Dolphins beat writer says the Ravens’ offensive line could be in trouble in Sunday’s game. Lamar Jackson rises in QB rankings.
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