By HCR Staff | January 15, 2021
This matchup features two former Andy Reid disciples, the Ravens’ John Harbaugh and the Bills’ Sean McDermott. Both have deep playoff experience as coaches, and this game presents intriguing coaching judgments.
What The Ravens Need To Do To Win. First, the Ravens cannot dig themselves a two-possession hole early in the game. Even though they came from ten points down to win last week against the Titans, this Bills team is far more balanced than the Titans, and the Bills can step on the offensive gas far better than the Titans. The Ravens are a front-running team because they simply don’t have the passing game to consistently play from behind. Second, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh cannot pass up points; he has the best kicker in NFL history in Justin Tucker, and he has to use him. Last week, Harbaugh, in our view, wrongly passed up points and put the game into unnecessary jeopardy. He simply can’t do that again. Third, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale must take Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs out of the game. Diggs has been explosive all year, and his talent opens up the entire field for the Bills’ offense. We think the best strategy is to force another skill player to beat the Ravens because Diggs has been too dynamic.
What The Bills Need To Do To Win. First, the Bills must do a good job of tackling, and particularly against Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson is going to run the ball; that is a certainty, and the Bills’ tackling angles and physicality have to be on point. Jackson can hit homeruns from anywhere on the field, and that has to be respected. Second, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has to keep quarterback Josh Allen’s adrenaline under control. Even though Allen has had a great season and one playoff victory under his belt, he still is a young quarterback. Young quarterbacks with his elite ability can feel invincible, and can have the urge to try and dominate a game, but often in such an attempt, can force things when its unnecessary to do so. Allen simply has to just let the game come to him. Third, the Bills defense, playing at home, plays with high emotion, particularly on the back end. Sometimes, however, the emotion causes them to lose discipline, and then, they can gamble or make bad penalties. It’s been a long time since the Bills have seen the divisional round of the playoffs, so poise – especially on the back end – is going to be important.