Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills: 3 early thoughts
3. Don Martindale may be the x-factor on Saturday night:
Don Martindale is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. He just called a great game against the Titans. He made the right adjustments in Tennessee and the Ravens completely clamped down on the Titans’ offense. The fact that the Ravens could figure things out after a bad start is encouraging. The Titans were one of the best offensive teams in the NFL, the Bills are very potent on offense as well.
The Bills have a lot of different ways to beat you. This means that Martindale has to be ready for anything and has to have built-in backup plans based on the Buffalo attack. The Bills may think that they want a drop back and make stuff happen kind of game for Josh Allen; are we really sure that’s not what Martindale has in mind also?
Martindale made the Titans a one-dimensional offense and it worked. Should you fear Josh Allen more than Ryan Tannehill? Absolutely. Should the Bills worry about what the Baltimore defense can bring at them? You better believe it.
The best-case scenario for the Ravens is that Marlon Humphrey can slow down Diggs and Marcus Peters and the rest of the secondary are ready to fare well in their matchups as well. Even in this best-case scenario, Martindale has to be ready for the possible X-factors. Maybe it’s Allen taking off and making plays on the ground. Maybe, it’s Devin Singletary making plays as a receiver. Perhaps it’s a trick play or two.
If the best-case scenario is off the table, Martindale has to focus on slowing down the Bills just enough and making up for the rest of it with turnovers. One way or another Martindale must win the chess match with the Bills. Schemes, blitzes, and disguising looks may never be more important to the final result of a game. The difference in this game could be one big play from the Baltimore defense.
Martindale is the biggest reason for confidence heading into Saturday. He managed to make the Ravens one of the better defenses in the NFL this year with an inconsistent pass rush and a good number of injuries along the way. He’s been on top of it all the way. He needs to be on top of things against the most challenging passing attack the Ravens have faced since they played the Chiefs in week four.