How are the Ravens planning for E.J. Manuel?
What: Ravens (2-1) at Bills (1-2)
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N. Y.
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. TV: CBS (Watch Ravens Post Game Live on CSN at 4 p.m.)
Five questions that need answers:
1. Can the Ravens get their running game going?
They are ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing, averaging 2.6 yards per carry. Ray Rice is expected back in the lineup, after sitting out Week 3 with an injured hip. With or without Rice, the Ravens need more from their running game. Yards have been tough to come by for both Rice and Bernard Pierce, because the offensive line has allowed too much penetration. The Bills are ranked 30th against the run. Expect the Ravens to commit to the running game, and to expect better results.
2. Will the Ravens’ pass rush pummel Bills quarterback E. J. Manuel? If the Bills fall behind by double digits, Manuel could get punished. He was sacked eight times by the Jets in Week 3. Ravens linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil should be riding to the stadium with smiles on their faces. If the Bills don’t do a better job protecting Manuel, they don’t stand much of a chance.
3. Can the Ravens go another week without giving up a touchdown?
The Ravens have not yielded a touchdown since Week 1. Their front seven has been superb the last two weeks, and defensive lineman Chris Canty (strained groin) hopes to be back. At home, the Ravens’ defense has been special. A standout defensive performance on the road would be even more impressive.
4. Is this a trap game for the Ravens?
They have won two straight, the Bills are coming off a loss, and the Ravens are favorites. Road games are always potentially dangerous. If the Ravens take this trip lightly, they could easily get burned. We will learn something about their early-season focus.
5. Can C. J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson, and Mario Williams make enough big plays for the Bills? It’s hard to see the Bills winning unless their playmakers take over. Spiller is one of the league’s fastest backs, Williams is an elite pass rusher, and Johnson is a superb receiver. The Ravens will be focused on containing that trio.