The Buffalo Bills will start their 2018 NFL season away from home, playing against the Ravens in Baltimore. Head Coach Sean McDermott is going to have all of his 53 players available for next Sunday’s matchup at the M&T Bank Stadium.
This will be Brian Daboll’s first official game as the Bills offensive coordinator and I’m really looking forward to it. He installed his Erhardt-Perkins scheme this offseason, the same run by the Patriots. It’s expected to help quarterback Nathan Peterman with pre-play motions and empty sets with the 21 personnel – two backs, one tight end – forcing opposing defenses to show their coverages most of the time. The first drive in the week one preseason game versus the Panthers was very promising and brings hope to the Bills fans.
Running back LeSean McCoy will again be counted on to lead the charge on offense, with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Charles Clay being the top playmakers in the passing game. If this trio can get it going early, the Bills have a chance in this game. It’s a big “if” though, because the offensive line level of play can derail this offense before they even get a chance. Left tackle Dion Dawkins’ job versus veteran pass rusher Terrell Suggs will be very important, as will Ryan Groy, Vlad Ducasse and John Miller’s battle against the pair of mammoth defensive linemen Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams. This battle in the trenches will decide the Bills hopes on this game.
On defense, the Bills have talent enough to make things difficult for Joe Flacco and company. Defensive linemen Kyle Williams and Trent Murphy weren’t on the injury report released yesterday, which is really good news for Buffalo. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and LB Tremaine Edmunds will debut and are expected to slow down Baltimore’s run game. If they can force third-and-long situations, I like the secondary’s chances versus Flacco and his receivers. Defensive end Jerry Hughes can give fits to Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens’ young franchise LT. The Bills are very capable on this side of the ball.
At the end of the day, it’s still a rebuilding season in Buffalo. The Bills will play hard like they always do under McDermott and I believe the Bills’ offensive line will dictate how this game goes. If they can do a solid job, allowing McCoy and Peterman to work, the Bills have a shot in Baltimore. But nothing they did during the preseason gives me confidence in their capacities. I think it’ll be a low scoring game with a high number of turnovers on both sides, with Baltimore prevailing in the end.