Among the many areas in which the Buffalo Bills can stand to improve, winning the battle for time of possession will be an important factor in determining the victor in this Sunday's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.
To this point in the season, Bills opponents are averaging a full 10 minutes more of possession time per game than Buffalo, holding the ball for 35 minutes to Buffalo's 25 (on average). Theheld the biggest advantage over Buffalo in this area, controlling the ball for over 40 minutes in a Week 4 victory.
There are four key factors to opponents' dominance in this area. First and foremost, Buffalo's inability to stop the run has played its role; the Bills are surrendering 182.4 rushing yards per game, while gaining only 106.4 themselves despite moderate success in that area. The Bills are equally ineffective in the passing game, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete a ridiculous 68.4% of their attempts, keeping the clock rolling. Bills quarterbacks, meanwhile, are completing 59.1% of their throws.
Performance on third downs, of course, is the biggest factor when determining time of possession. Bills opponents have roughly a 50/50 shot of converting on third down, succeeding on 48.5% of their attempts through five games. Buffalo, meanwhile, converts on just 26.3% of their third down chances, thanks in large part to an unhealthy number of negative plays on earlier downs. Bills opponents have earned 108 total first downs through five games, while Buffalo has just 71.
Baltimore typically excels in this area - their style caters well to it - and, unsurprisingly, the 2010 numbers back it up: Baltimore is averaging well over 33 minutes of possession time per game this season. If that trend continues in Week 7, Buffalo has no chance of earning its first win.