Bills vs. Ravens Betting Predictions

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens NFL Divisional Round
Buffalo vs. Baltimore, NFL Betting Predictions, Divisional Round, January 16

The Buffalo Bills picked up their first playoff win in 25 seasons last week by holding off the Indianapolis Colts. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson led the Baltimore Ravens to a comeback win in Tennessee, the first time he’s won a game in which he’s trailed by 10 points or more in the NFL. These are two offenses that go about their business in very different ways and two defenses that rely on pressure to make a difference. It’s about as close to a coin flip as possible in the NFL Divisional Round, but Josh Allen is a game-changer for Buffalo and he’ll lead them to a tight win at home.

Bills vs. Ravens Betting Odds

Baltimore has now won six straight games since the COVID-19 outbreak ravaged the team and put the Ravens in a precarious spot in the playoff picture. The Ravens have simply dominated teams with their offensive line in that stretch and used the running game to help overpower everyone in their path to the postseason. It’s the formula we expected Baltimore to follow all season long, but things got sloppy right after the bye week. The most passes Baltimore has attempted during this six-game winning streak is 26 and it threw the ball 21 times or fewer on three occasions. Jackson is the engine for the offense, having rushed for 80 yards or more in five of Baltimore’s six games during this winning streak, including a pair of 100-yard performances. Rookie running J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 80 yards or more once in that same span and the same for third-year back Gus Edwards. The defense has been equally fruitful while holding its last four opponents to 14 points or fewer. Yet none of those four offenses can match the explosiveness of Buffalo’s unit and the closest one might be the Cleveland offense that put up 42 points and nearly 500 yards of offense at home in Week 14.

There is so much attention paid to Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley for the Bills, but this game is going to come down to how well Buffalo’s secondary weapons step up. The Ravens are going to mark Diggs tightly and not let Beasley become a nuisance in the short passing game. So this could be a big game for vertical threats like John Brown and Gabriel Davis, who won’t attract as much attention as Diggs or Beasley. It also could open the door for Dawson Knox and Devin Singletary to have a larger role as pass catchers on shorter routes to beat blitzes. I’m actually so bullish on the secondary weapons Buffalo has that I’m betting on Davis to score a touchdown at +500 odds because he’s been a quiet but important receiver for the Bills all season long with seven touchdown catches. Josh Allen has done an excellent job all season long at using all of his receivers and picking on the best matchups for his team. I doubt that will change this week, though the Ravens’ defense will certainly make it more difficult. The Bills will need to do the same with Jackson and contain him from using his biggest weapon, his legs. Jackson has thrown the ball 28 times or more five times this season, and the results from those games are not pretty. Baltimore went 1-4 in those five games, Jackson completed 54 percent or less of his passes three times, he threw five of his nine interceptions on the season in those five games and he averaged five yards or less per rush in four of those contests.

Last year’s game in Baltimore ended at 41 points, so I figured that would be where the football betting sites would have started for the NFL divisional round odds on this game. Instead, the sportsbooks set the over/under at 50 points, which just seems too high given these two teams. Both teams are going to be ready defensively to take the other team out of what they do well, just like last season when the teams didn’t even hit 470 yards combined. Josh Allen and the Bills offense is improved from last season, so I would expect them to provide a little more of a challenge for the Ravens. Meanwhile, Buffalo has done well this season when it has the chance to focus on the running game. I think both teams end up in the low 20’s at the most, so I’ll settle on under 46.5 total points at +150 odds as part of my NFL Divisional Round predictions for the weekend.

Bills to win

I was honestly very surprised that the Bills are two-point favorites in this NFL divisional round game because I expected the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey to ride with last year’s MVP. Buffalo barely survived last week against Indianapolis and Baltimore is riding a hot streak into the Divisional Round games this week. Yet the NFL betting sites in New Jersey are seeing something in Buffalo that I have also saw, a team that finds way to make big plays in big moments. Say what you want about the Colts offense, but Indianapolis scored just two touchdowns in five trips to the red zone. The Ravens offense is based on how effective Jackson is when he is using his legs. If Jackson is kept inside the pocket then Baltimore’s offense is far less effective than if Jackson can make plays with his athletic ability. Buffalo did an excellent job last year at keeping Jackson from hurting it with his feet, and I expect a similarly well-designed gameplan from Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier to slow down Jackson. If this becomes a matchup between the skill position players, the Bills are going to win. It will be a tight game, but the Bills will cover, so I’m betting Buffalo laying 3.5 points at +115 odds.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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