The Bills suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, falling short to the Dolphins 21-19.
Many fans will simply point to the extreme heat that forced guys out of the game and made an already depleted roster in even more dire straights as the reason for the L.
While I think it's absolutely flawed to just dismiss that factor, it certainly is not the only reason things went south in South Florida.
Now we get our first look at how this team bounces back.
Injuries are still a big storyline.
A different type of weather is going to play a role.
And above it all -- it's the two early front-runners for NFL MVP duking at out at quarterback.
Let's get into what's on tap against the Ravens.
Best vs. Best
Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson are the top two early front-runners for NFL MVP through three weeks of the regular season.
It was week one of 2018 where both took the field in Baltimore for the very first time in their NFL careers.
Fast-forward to the present, Jackson is rolling into a contract year without a new deal and boy is that bet paying off early.
The former MVP leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (10) and quarterback rating (119).
Add to that 749 passing yards on 63.3% completion.
Oh, and then there's his running.
Jackson is tied for 5th in the NFL with 243 rushing yards at a league best 9.35 yards per attempt.
He's literally doing it all for a Ravens offense that ranks 4th in the NFL, with his 992 total yards accounting for 87% of Baltimore's offensive production (1141 total yards).
Allen's not far behind that, with his 1,127 total yards accounting or 85% of the Bills offense, which ranks 2nd in the league.
Individually, Allen ranks top 4 in the football in attempts (4th - 132), completions (2nd - 94), completion percentage (4th - 71.2%), passing yards (3rd - 1,014), TD passes (2nd - 9), and QB rating (4th - 109.8)
So you can see why this truly will be a battle of the best at QB Sunday afternoon.
However, neither have been at their best in this match-up.
They've both started twice, a regular season game in 2019 and playoff meeting in 2020.
Jackson: 16/25 for 145 yards, 3 TDs, INT -- 11 rushes for 40 yards
Allen: 16/39 for 146 yards, TD -- 2 rushes for 9 yards
Jackson: 14/24 for 162 yards, INT -- 9 rushes for 34 yards
Allen: 23/37 for 206 yards, TD -- 7 rushes for 3 yards
**Jackson left game late in 2nd half with concussion**
I'd understand assuming both will be closer to their level of play seen early this season, but remember Jackson won MVP in 2019 and Allen was a finalist in 2020, so it's not like either entered those games in a bad spot.
It will be interesting how each defense tries to slow each of these elite players.
The showcase of top talent doesn't stop at the QB position.
Stefon Diggs and Mark Andrews are two of the top pass catchers in the league.
Diggs entered the week tops in the NFL in receiving yards (344) and receiving TDs (4) and 2nd in catches (27).
Andrews leads all NFL tight ends with 22 receptions for 245 yards and 3 TDs.
However, like Jackson, Andrews hasn't been at his best against the Bills, with just 8 receptions for 73 yards in 3 career games.
On the flip side, Diggs was strong during that playoff game in 2020, grabbing 8 catches for 106 yards and a TD.
Marcus Peters certainly will be someone often dealing with Diggs.
While he has no injury designation for the game, Peters was listed with a knee injury earlier in the week. He missed week 1 as he still was working his way back from a torn ACL that cost him all of the 2021 season.
Not Your Normal Ravens D
The Ravens have been known for nearly their entire existence as a team with an elite defense.
That's not the case early this season.
Baltimore ranks dead last in total yards allowed per game at 458.
353.3 of that is passing yards allowed, also worst in the league.
However, takeaways have been a great equalizer, tied for best in the NFL with 8.
Six of those have been interceptions.
The Ravens are also pretty good at getting stops on 3rd down, ranking 9th at 32.35%.
But Baltimore not great at getting the QB, with 7 sacks middle of the pack in the NFL.
Their pressure rate is just 19%, according to Pro Football Reference.
And PFR also has the Ravens 2nd worst in the league with 28 missed tackles.
Seems like a recipe for another pass-happy Allen performance.
Another Weather Issue
The after effects of Hurricane Ian are going to be part of this game Sunday.
As of now, there's around a 90% or higher chance of rain from kick-off throughout the entire afternoon.
Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 50s.
If you can think back to when these two teams played to open the 2018 season, it rained that entire game as well.
Dion Dawkins did tell me this week that the conditions shouldn't change the Bills offense, especially with a quarterback like Allen.
So while rain could lead you to thinking the game would flip to more ground and pound, to be so sure.
Allen and the offense have shown the ability to operate in all conditions, including precipitation.
Still, field conditions and a wet ball could come into play at some point.
OUT: CB Christian Benford (hand), WR Jake Kumerow (ankle), DT Jordan Phillips (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Gabe Davis (ankle), CB Dane Jackson (neck), TE Dawson Knox (back/hip), C Mitch Morse (elbow), DT Ed Oliver (ankle), S Jordan Poyer (foot), OL Justin Murray (foot)
DOUBTFUL: OLB Justin Houston (groin), OL Patrick Mekari (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: T Ronnie Stanley (ankle)
I'll do this a little different this week because of the extent of Bills injuries. Jackson said after practice Friday that he plans on playing against the Ravens. Amazing to think about less than two week after he was taken off the field in an ambulance with a neck injury.
The rest is up in the air more. Davis aggravated an ankle injury Wednesday and missed practice Thursday before returning Friday. Morse, Oliver, and Poyer all missed last week in Miami, with Oliver's injury dating back to week one in LA. Poyer seems the most in line to return from that trio. Murray was signed this week to provide much needed offensive line depth.
On Baltimore's side, Houston leads the team in sacks and would be big loss. Stanley would be tasked with slowing down Von Miller and Greg Rousseau, so his absence would also be a large issue for the Ravens against an improved Bills pass rush.
On the Line
Josh Allen O/U Passing Yards: 286.5
Lamar Jackson O/U Passing Yards: 231.5
Josh Allen O/U Rushing Yards: 41.5
Lamar Jackson O/U Rushing Yards: 55.5
Stefon Diggs O/U Receiving Yards: 83.5
Mark Andrews O/U Receiving Yards: 63.5
**DraftKings Sports Book**
Bills and Ravens kick things off from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore Sunday at 1 p.m.
**Be sure to tune into Spectrum News 1 right after the game for "Buffalo End Zone." Our LIVE postgame show brings you instant team reaction from inside the locker room as well as highlights and analysis. Join host Kevin Carroll and former Bills running back Fred Jackson along with Jon Scott from M&T Bank Stadium as they look back at what went down between the Bills and Ravens. That's "Buffalo End Zone" immediately after the game ends.**