OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens haven’t had to stress too much over the last month or so of football.
Aside from a last-second win over the 49ers, the Ravens have climbed to the top of the AFC standings, and with four games to play, control their destiny for home-field advantage.
But while the Bills aren’t in first place in their division, Sunday’s game at New Era Field could be one that has a large impact on the AFC standings.
“We know the goal is to win the game, and what follows with that is what follows with that,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I did mention to the team, I said, ‘Where are we? We’re nowhere until we get there. And when we get there, we’ll be there. And we’ll take it from there.’ How’s that? That’s actually pretty good.
At 10-2, the Ravens are in pole position headed to the final quarter of the season. But the slope that they sit atop of is quite slippery.
A loss to the 9-3 Bills would tie the two teams in the standings, with the Bills then owning the tiebreaker with just three games to play.
In that scenario, the AFC East champion Bills would have the inside track to home-field advantage in the playoffs over the Ravens.
“We're not looking at everything like, ‘Oh my gosh, we're unstoppable,’ or anything like that,” Josh Bynes said. “Because it's any given Sunday, and we know how this league works. Any team can come out and beat you at any given moment. So, all we're focused on right now is just winning one game at a time and just taking it day by day and game by game.”
The Bills offense has took a turn for the better in recent weeks, as quarterback Josh Allen has thrown just one interception since Week 5. But the true strength of the Bills is their defense, which has kept them in games all season long.
It’s yet another top defense that the Ravens will have to go through on their stretch of top defenses.
“I think they're very talented,” Orlando Brown Jr. said. “I think they play very hard, and they've got a great scheme and a ton of great players in great positions. Their defensive backs are playing really well. They have a great group of front seven, again. It seems like we can't get a break, but it's all good.”
Buffalo’s defense ranks third in yards-allowed-per game (300) and third in pass yards allowed (195.8).
Baltimore is set to catch a break before the game even starts, as the weather in Buffalo is predicted to be mild — for New York. The projected high temperature is 45 degrees, and no snow is in the forecast.
“I don’t really care about cold games,” Lamar Jackson said. “I played at Louisville, so there were a lot of cold games there. And last year, I played here, so it is what it is. But I’d rather it not be raining and cold. That doesn’t mix. Cold and snow, I’ve never been in that. So, I’ll find out what it’s like, and I have to play ball.”
Jackson, against another of the league’s top defensive units, will look to add an exclamation point to his MVP resume.
Should he do that and the Ravens win, they’ll clinch a playoff berth. And paired with a win over the Bills and a Steelers loss, they’ll have back-to-back AFC North titles.
“It's going to be a good test,” Michael Pierce said. “I think it'll be another playoff-type atmosphere there on the road. They're 9-3. Josh Allen is playing really well, and we know the kind of (running) back Frank Gore is. And (Devin) Singletary is pretty smooth, too, so yes, they have a good team. It'll be a good game.”
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