Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview: Top 6 Matchups To Watch on Sunday
The Buffalo Bills are coming off of a much needed bye week, after suffering five consecutive losses to begin the season. They will travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens, who are 4-2 on the year.
Bills tight end Shawn Nelson is returning from a four-game suspension, and is likely to see some playing time this Sunday, while undrafted rookie Cordero Howard will make his first start of the year at right tackle.
The Bills have allowed 30 or more points in four consecutive games, and they are going against a Ravens team that has all the weapons they need to keep that streak going.
This slideshow will preview the top six individual player-on-player matchups that will decide the outcome of the game.
Baltimore Ravens DE Haloti Ngata Vs. Buffalo Bills RT Cordero Howard
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In the 2006 NFL Draft, Billievers prayed that the Bills would select the physically imposing and dominating defensive lineman, Haloti Ngata. Instead, they passed on him, opting to select safety Donte Whitner.
We all know how that turned out.
Ngata has quickly established himself as an imposing presence on an already fierce Baltimore defense, and will be licking his chops, as he will be lining up against right tackle Cordero Howard, an undrafted rookie making his first career start.
On the season, Ngata has racked up 35 tackles and four sacks, constantly powering his way past opposing linemen and attacking the quarterback.
Howard has played everywhere from left to right on the Bills offensive line since preseason, and it will definitely be a tough matchup for a team that has allowed 14 sacks through the first five games of the year.
Upper Hand: Haloti Ngata
Baltimore Ravens ILB Ray Lewis Vs. Buffalo Bills RB's Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller
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Ray Lewis has defied father time, and the 35-year-old middle linebacker is still one of the most fearsome linebackers in the National Football League. On the year, he has made 45 tackles, two of which for losses, while batting away two passes, and making an interception.
The Bills will start running back Fred Jackson, who played well against the Jacksonville Jaguars, rushing for 73 yards for an average just over six yards-per-carry.
However, the Bills offensive line hasn't played well, and Jackson will need every ounce of help he can get if the team wants to get their first 100-yard rusher since last season.
Rookie running back C.J. Spiller has just 19 carries for 80 yards on the year, and hasn't been able to be the home-run threat we have hoped for since his 31-yard touchdown run in the preseason.
The Ravens have the 13th-ranked rush defense in the league, but it's tough to see the Bills gaining 100 yards against their stout front seven.
Upper Hand: Ray Lewis
Baltimore Ravens DB's Vs. Buffalo Bills WR's
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Ravens CB Chris Carr Vs. Bills WR Lee Evans
Lee Evans is the starting No. 1 wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, yet he is the third in terms of production. Evans has caught just 15 passes for 181 yards, with his only touchdown coming on a 45-yard bomb against the Jaguars.
Chris Carr has done a good job of filling in for Domonique Foxworth, who was injured before the season began. He has been solid in coverage, making 22 tackles, defending four passes and making an interception.
Evans is a big play threat, but the Bills really need to utilize all four receivers if they can exploit the secondary.
Ravens CB Fabian Washington Vs. Bills WR Roscoe Parrish
Roscoe Parrish has been a surprise for the Buffalo Bills this season, making 14 receptions for 221 yards with a touchdown. He is also a speedy big play threat, but his matchup against Fabian Washington is an interesting one.
Washington has been a solid pass defender, as he has batted away eight passes, and constantly keeps opposing receivers in check.
Bills WR's Steve Johnson, David Nelson
Steve Johnson has scored four touchdowns in his last three games, so the Ravens might want to focus on him a little more, as he also made 17 catches for 217 yards on the year. Undrafted rookie wide receiver David Nelson has also been a pleasant surprise, making 10 catches for 120 yards in his limited action.
Ed Reed's Return
Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed is returning off the Physically Unable to Perform list, coming back from an injury that sidelined him for the first six games of the season. He is without question one of the best safeties in the game, and is not only a ball hawk, but an explosive hitter. It will be interesting to see if the Bills choose to test him.
Baltimore Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs Vs. Buffalo Bills LT Demetrius Bell
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Terrell Suggs is just another one of the dominating linebackers the Baltimore Ravens have at their disposal, and he is always a threatening pass rusher. Suggs has forced a fumble in addition to his 3.5 sacks and 26 tackles on the year.
Demetrius Bell is still grooming himself into the left tackle position, and has been inconsistent in his play. He will have his work cut out for him this Sunday, as he goes against a seasoned veteran pass rusher in Suggs.
We can expect to see a lot of two tight end sets, as the Bills will be struggling to contain two dominating forces in Haloti Ngata and Suggs.
Baltimore Ravens TE Todd Heap Vs. Buffalo Bills OLB Chris Kelsay
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After suffering a devastating hit last week at the hands of New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, Todd Heap is expected to play this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Heap is a vital piece to the Ravens passing attack, catching 21 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Kelsay has been blown away when covering tight ends this season, and we can't expect that to change against Heap, who is an upper echelon player at the position.
Baltimore Ravens WR Anquan Boldin Vs. Buffalo Bills CB Drayton Florence
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With Bills starting cornerback Terrence McGee sidelined again with an injury, Drayton Florence and Leodis McKelvin will be starting. Florence has been solid this season, making 22 tackles, deflecting four passes and forcing a fumble.
Anquan Boldin is a key piece of the Baltimore Ravens offense, not just with his ability as a wide receiver, but by his use as a decoy. He is always in motion, and is a great run blocker as well.
Boldin has caught 32 passes for 426 yards with four touchdowns on the year, and will be a tough matchup for Drayton Florence.