Well, tomorrow I am leaving for Buffalo to take in the first “Following the Compass” game of the season, the Buffalo Bills’ contest with the Baltimore Ravens. First, some of the logistics on my end.
We are leaving tomorrow afternoon, and will get to Buffalo on game day. The seats are in a corner, but in one of the lower levels. We had similar seats for the Bears-Jaguars game for last year’s Following the Compass. It should give us a pretty great angle on the action. On the way out, we will stop in Akron, as I was unable to make it there for a 2009 basketball game betwee Illinois-Chicago and Akron. amd on the way home, we should make a quick stop in Kalamazoo as well, since a trip there for this year’s second FtC game between Cornell and Western Michigan is similarly out of the question. Follow me on Twitter @VictoriawxRhino for updates, as there may not be any posts until next Thursday.
As for the game itself, my expectations for it have certainly changed in the past 3 weeks. Coming into this season, a game between the lowly Bills and the defending Super Bowl Champion seemed like a definite mismatch, but so far, the Bills have hung with the New England Patriots, defeated the Carolina Panthers, and came down to the wire with the Jets. The Ravens didn’t even come close to contention with the Broncos and narrowly defeated the Browns before coming around last week against Houston.
Still, it seems as though if the Ravens want to win this game, they will have to force some turnovers, but so far, the Bills are operating a smart offense. They aren’t exposing EJ Manuel to unnecessary risk, and he has only thrown 1 interception, though to this point, his yardage hasn’t been that impressive. The Ravens aren’t bringing anything new to the table, but they did lose Anquan Bolden in the offseason, and as I noted, their running back situation has been disrupted by injury.
The Bills are frustrating fantasy owners with their ground game, but are effective on the field by splitting time with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, and those two shoulder a lot of the offensive responsibility. Their defense, despite some injuries and a hold out in the secondary, is actually fairly strong. Kiko Alonso looks like a really good selection at linebacker.and the Bills still have Mario Williams on the defensive line. The Ravens seem only to have lost players this offseason, from Ray Lewis to Ed Reed, from Dannel Ellerbe to Paul Krueger. There is a reason they gave up so many points to Denver.
I don’t think Buffalo has enouh in the offensive toolbox to overcome the Ravens defense though, but at the same time, I think the job will be made easier by the Bills’ own play making defense. Whoever wins the turnover game will win the game. It looks like it may be a rainy affair, so I would anticipate one of these teams is going to cough it up at least 3 times. I think it will be the Ravens. In an upset, I predict Buffalo will win by a score of 21-17.
I can’t wait to see how it goes!