Week 1: Bills vs. Ravens
It's finally here! The 2016 season gets underway for the Bills as they travel down to Baltimore for a matchup with the Ravens. Baltimore is coming off a very disappointing season in 2015 that saw them lose QB Joe Flacco with a torn ACL that his now healed. His former backup is Tyrod Taylor who makes his return to the place where he groomed his skills for four years running the scout team. This is a huge homecoming for him and Rex Ryan who thought he was slighted by the team when he was passed over for the head coaching job when he was there as the defensive coordinator before getting the job with the Jets. So there are a lot of storylines in this opener making it an intriguing matchup to start the season.
Sunday, Sept. 11th
FACTS AND FIGURES
||Buffalo (0-0) vs. Baltimore (0-0)
||M&T Bank Stadium
||Network: CBS; DirecTV: 705; Sirius: 126; XM 232
||Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots, and Dana Jacobson
||Ravens by 3
||Series tied 3-3
||Bills Won 1
||Bills 23-20 in Buffalo (2013)
|Ravens Off: (2015 Final)
||Rush (26th); Pass (8th); overall (14th)
|Ravens Def: (2015 Final)
||Rush (12th); Pass (10th); overall (8th)
|Bills Off: (2015 Final)
||Rush (1st); Pass (28th); overall (13th)
|Bills Def: (2015 Final)
||Rush (16th); Pass (19th); overall (19th)
The Bills are pretty healthy after a disastrous summer of injuries. They lost their top two draft picks to significant injuries with Shaq Lawson not expected back until midseason. Only backups Colt Anderson and Kevin Seymour have sat out practices this week.
The Ravens are pretty healthy as well. They will be without their top pass rusher as Elvis Dumervil is out with a foot injury. Promising RB Kenneth Dixon is sidelined with a knee injury. CB Jerraud Powers has missed practice time this week with an ankle injury. The team is hoping Joe Flacco is completely healthy after suffering his season ending injury last year in week 10.
Check out our Bills Daily Injury Page throughout the week for the latest updates on the injured players.
LB Preston Brown vs. QB Joe Flacco:
The Bills are promising better communication this year as they are "all in" on defense. Brown will need to get the calls made quickly and accurately or else Flacco could pick them apart in the passing game.
RB LeSean McCoy vs. LB C.J. Mosley:
Speaking of the team's "all in" mantra that seems to be what McCoy is this year. He admitted his mind wasn't totally with the Bills last year as he struggled to come to terms with leaving Philadelphia. That's not the case anymore and he has a chip on his shoulder to prove he's still a top running back in this game. Mosley led the Ravens in solo tackles last season.
WR Sammy Watkins vs. CB Jimmy Smith:
Watkins is looking for a huge breakthrough year and will lineup against Smith a majority of the time. He led the Ravens with three interceptions last year. That was half of the team's total for the 2015 season.
LB Jerry Hughes vs. RT Rick Wagner:
This will be a story all year as Hughes switches sides of the field to go up against the opponent's right tackle instead of the usually better left tackle. This week's matchup is with the four year veteran Wagner who has started all but one game the past two seasons in Baltimore.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Survive The Wave: Opening day is always full of emotion and the Ravens will have the momentum to start the game since they are at home. The Bills need to survive the initial wave of emotion. If they can do that and are tied or in the lead at the end of the first quarter, they have a better chance at winning.
2. Play Disciplined Football: Penalties were a huge problem last year and they didn't seem to get any better in the preseason. If they make too many penalties it will be very hard this week to overcome them and win the football game.
3. Tyrod's Emotions: Taylor has a very calm demeanor so it seems like a longshot that his emotions of this big homecoming will get the better of him. If they do he may try to do too much and make some mistakes that can be the difference in the game.
BILLS DAILY PREDICTION
This is a really tough game to predict like most opening day games are. I have been going back and forth on my prediction. Tyrod Taylor will be fired up to face his old team and the Ravens are coming off a very down year but are better than their record indicated last season. Opening on the road is always tough so I will give the edge to the home team but the game can go either way:
Ravens 24, Bills 20
Season Prediction Record: (0-0)
Season Record Against The Spread: (0-0)
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