It is quite a turnaround for the Ravens, who finished 6-10 last
season under coach Brian Billick. Owner Steve Bisciotti warned
Billick that improvement was needed if he wanted to keep his
job. Billick made a bold move when he fired offensive
coordinator Jim Fassel and took over the play-calling duties in
October. Since that move, the Ravens won eight of nine games to
run away with the AFC North title.
McNair, who was acquired last June from Tennessee, has provided
steady leadership, and Jamal Lewis eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing
after failing to do so last season.
But as was the case in 2000 when the Ravens won the Super Bowl
under Billick, the Ravens' fortunes rest on a defense that has
yielded a league-low 12.9 points per game.
The Ravens recorded five sacks and Reed and rookie Dawan Landry
each had interceptions in a 31-7 win at Pittsburgh last week.
McNair threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns and Mark Clayton
caught seven passes for 108 yards, including a 35-yard score.
The Bills have a chance to finish with a .500 record in Dick
Jauron's first season as coach. Last year, they were 5-11 under
Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel, who was named to the Pro Bowl
last week, is second in the AFC with 14 sacks.
Last week, the Bills were eliminated from playoff contention
with a 30-29 loss to Tennessee. Losman passed for 266 yards and
one touchdown with two interceptions and McGahee rushed for 95
yards and a score.
The Bills have won four of their last six games. They are well coached and feature a smart, efficient offense, an improving defense that shut out the Dolphins two weeks ago and exceptional special teams. They lost a tight game against the Titans last week that ruined their faint playoff hopes, but this is a team on the rise.
Baltimore is now in position to have a first-round playoff bye. The Ravens are playing exceptional football led by their great defense. The sack brigade continued last week for the Ravens, who have 57 for the year, with five in Pittsburgh. Bills QB J.P. Losman and the Bills' pass protection will be tested in a big way on Sunday.