Ravens-Bills Preview

BY foxsports • September 25, 2013

After the Buffalo Bills' offense struggled in their most recent contest, maybe the last thing they need is to face a Baltimore Ravens defense that has been dominant since a rough season opener.

The visiting Ravens look to hold an opponent without a touchdown in three straight games for the first time in franchise history Sunday against the banged-up Bills.

Baltimore (2-1) has bounced back nicely from its forgettable 49-27 season-opening loss at Denver. The Ravens allowed 510 yards and seven touchdown passes to Peyton Manning in that game, but have yielded only five field goals and 523 yards in home victories over Cleveland and Houston.

"In the NFL you're going to have highs and lows," said linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has a team-high three of Baltimore's 11 sacks. "(The Broncos were) the first game. They had some success. We knew we had to go to work."

Baltimore put that work to good use during last Sunday's 30-9 rout of a Texans team which totaled 61 points in its first two games. Linebacker Daryl Smith scored on a 37-yard return of an interception off Matt Schaub, who was held to 194 yards, and the Ravens limited Houston to a season-low 94 yards rushing.

"They've played two weeks now where they haven't given up a touchdown," said quarterback Joe Flacco, who has thrown one TD but no interceptions in the last two games. "That's pretty good. You're going to have a tough time losing when that happens."

Facing Baltimore's defense presents a daunting challenge for the Bills (1-2), who lost 27-20 at New York last weekend despite the Jets being flagged 20 times for 168 yards. Buffalo became the first team since the Chicago Bears in 1951 to lose when its opponent was penalized 20 or more times.

That's partially because the Bills went 4 of 18 converting third downs, managed three field goals on three trips inside the Jets 20 and allowed eight sacks after giving up one over the previous two weeks against Carolina and New England.

"Some of the mistakes we made were terrible, myself included," center Eric Wood said. "We obviously have to bounce back, but that was a game we kind of threw away."

Buffalo expects to have C.J. Spiller available after a quad injury limited him to nine yards on 10 carries against the Jets. Fred Jackson tried to pick up the slack, rushing seven times for 72 yards and catching four passes for 37.

Rookie EJ Manuel went 19 of 42 for 243 yards with a touchdown, struggling with his accuracy and ability to handle the blitz.

"We want to make sure we're giving our players an opportunity to make those plays," said coach Doug Marrone, whose team's three games have been decided by 10 points. "Am I disappointed? Absolutely. I can tell you this, EJ Manuel is disappointed too. I think those are the things that we'll work on to correct."

Things are equally concerning on the other side of the ball after the Bills yielded 513 yards, including 182 on the ground, at New York. Buffalo ranks second-to-last in the league in run defense, giving up 155.0 yards per game.

Already without injured cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and Ron Brooks (foot) and Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd (foot), Buffalo lost defensive end Alex Carrington to a season-ending quad injury last weekend and could be minus defensive back Leodis McKelvin due to a hamstring injury.

Ankle injuries are not expected to keep defensive linemen Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus from playing.

Having both in the lineup would help if Baltimore's Ray Rice returns after missing his first game since 2008 with a hip injury.

"We have a chance to get Ray back," coach John Harbaugh told the Ravens' official website.

Though Rice has rushed for 36 yards in each of his two games this season, he might provide a boost for a running game that ranks 31st at 2.6 per carry.

Rice's backup, Bernard Pierce, has averaged 2.8 yards on 58 attempts but has a TD in each of the last two weeks.

Jackson outgained Rice 73-72 on the ground in these teams' last meeting, but Flacco threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in Baltimore's 37-34 overtime win in 2010.

Buffalo's Stevie Johnson, who has 14 receptions for 197 yards over the last two games, caught eight passes for 158 yards and a TD in that meeting.

The Ravens lost 19-14 in their only previous trip to Buffalo in 2007.

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