The Buffalo Bills lost a heartbreaker this past Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens—a team some believe to be the best in the league. Despite it being a one-score game late in the fourth, the Bills wouldn't surpass a 35% win probability on the day. Contextually, this was a tale of two defenses, both of which held the other’s offense in check most of the day. Aside from a 61-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst, Lamar Jackson was held in check yardage-wise on the day and wasn’t the full reason the Bills failed to pull out the victory. That being said let’s look at where the fault lies in this week’s probability breakdown.
(Charts courtesy of numberfire LIVE.)
After a four-and-out by Josh Allen and company, the Ravens would cap off their first scoring drive with a field goal from Justin Tucker, which—despite being a Ravens scoring play—would swing the Bills +0.27%. While Baltimore managed to score on their second drive, it was clear that Buffalo’s defense had prepared properly for the high-powered Ravens offense. However, for Buffalo early on it was clear Baltimore would be sending pressure early and often as well as playing Cover-0 a majority of the game—something the offense has struggled against all season.
On the ensuing drive Josh Allen would fumble on Buffalo’s 26-yard-line to set up the Ravens in scoring position. The fumble itself would drop the Bills -8.19% and set up a Baltimore touchdown on a shovel pass to Nick Boyle. The touchdown would bring Buffalo to a 17.92% win probability and give the Ravens a two-score lead late in the first quarter.
Despite having a 1.94% chance of winning with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter The Bills managed to pull off one of the biggest swings of the season late in the game. After a defensive-pass-interference call benefiting Cole Beasley, Buffalo’s win probability swung 22.23%. Unfortunately, the Bills would fail to convert on a 4th and 10, sending the Ravens’ offense in for victory formation.
The Bills encountered the presumed best team in the league Sunday and, despite the numbers, once again showed that regardless of who they play, their opponents will have to be ready for four quarters of football. The Bills head to Pittsburgh Sunday to play the Steelers where a win would clinch a playoff birth.