Bills face tough home test
The teams will meet at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time after three matchups in Baltimore, including a 19-7 win by the Ravens in last year's regular-season finale that secured a first round bye. McGahee was on the Bills' sideline that game, but following a March trade, he's flourished with the Ravens (4-2).
The former University of Miami star has rushed for 525 yards this season and is averaging 113.2 yards from scrimmage - he finished last season with Buffalo averaging only 3.8 yards per carry. McGahee rushed for 3,365 yards and 24 touchdowns for Buffalo from 2003-06.
After McGahee was dealt, the Bills (1-4) selected Marshawn Lynch 12th overall, and he has 373 rushing yards to rank second among rookies this season behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.
Both the Ravens and the Bills will go with backup quarterbacks on Sunday, making the running games even more essential. After Kyle Boller led Baltimore to a 22-3 win over St. Louis last Sunday in place of the injured Steve McNair, Ravens coach Brian Billick named him the starter for this game.
"I could have tried to play that game; you all wouldn't have bought it and I don't know if would have tricked Buffalo," Billick said. "We kind of went past that by starting Kyle last week, and it was pretty evident we were going to do the same thing this week."
McNair has a groin injury and sore back and the team wants to give him three weeks to recover. Baltimore has a bye next week before facing AFC North-leading Pittsburgh.
"We're confident that (McNair) will be fully healthy for Pittsburgh, and there's no circumstance I can think of that would not have him as our starter," Billick said.
Boller is 2-0 this season filling in for McNair, completing 63.0 percent (51-of-81) of his passes. The former first-round pick has won four of his last five starts.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Baltimore -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 34.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Baltimore -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Buffalo will continue to stick with rookie Trent Edwards, who has gone 1-1 in place of the injured J.P. Losman. Although Losman's sprained left knee has healed, Bills coach Dick Jauron chose to stick with Edwards for now.
"(Edwards) is our starting quarterback this week, and we'll move on from there," Jauron said. "We're just talking about this week. We're not going to talk about anything beyond it, so maybe we can save some time here because that's how I'm going to answer it."
Edwards has completed 76.3 percent (45-of-59) of his passes in his two starts, but the offense sputtered two weeks ago in a crushing 25-24 loss to Dallas. Buffalo forced six turnovers, yet gave up nine points in the final 20 seconds, losing on a last-second field goal for the second time this season.
The Bills had to go through their bye last week with the loss still lingering in their minds. Just like Baltimore, the Bills have injuries at several key positions and are the only team in the NFL starting a rookie quarterback and running back.
"I really believe this will take us a long way this season," Pro Bowl punter Brian Moorman said. "There's nobody in this locker room who has given up. ... Now we have to go out and put a 'W' on the board."
Buffalo is off to a 1-4 start for the third time since 2001 and has a long way to go to try to end a playoff drought that stretches to 1999. A more productive offense would be a start after the team managed only three offensive points in the loss to the Cowboys, despite the defense recording five interceptions for just the second time since 1970.
"We're disappointed in our record," Jauron said. "Obviously, we are where we are. There's not anything we can do about what's happened. But we've got a long schedule in front of us."
Baltimore is 4-2 for the third time in the last four seasons and would love to get another win heading into the bye.
"Notwithstanding what happens in Buffalo, I'm very confident and very excited about what that might mean to have a healthy team going forward - as healthy as we've been since the second play of the opener," Billick said. "We need the bye desperately, physically and emotionally, to rest."
Cornerback Chris McAlister missed Wednesday's practice and is doubtful with a knee injury. Tight end Todd Heap saw limited action in practice. He left during the first half of last Sunday's win with a hamstring injury.
By: AP Staff Writers - Email Us
More NFL Football coverage from theSpread.com
- Las Vegas Hilton Contest
- NFL public betting chart
- NFL teams
- NFL standings
- NFL schedule
- NFL injuries
- NFL matchups
- NFL stats
- NFL odds
- NFL news wire
- NFL top stories
- Accuscore NFL predictions
- NFL scoreboard
- Expert NFL Picks
- NFL trends
- Comments and discussion
- Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
- NFL Home