Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens Game Preview

The Bills and Ravens kickoff their preseasons against one another in Baltimore. This is the third preseason meeting between the Ravens and Bills, but the first since 1997, when Buffalo won 31-28, at Memorial Stadium. In the Ravens' first season in 1996, Baltimore won at Buffalo, 37-14.

The Baltimore Ravens, who survived the 2002 season with the youngest roster in NFL history (19 rookies on opening day), start their preseason 2003 campaign with a home game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Aug. 9, at M & T Bank Stadium. Kickoff is 8 P.M. EDT. Despite the youth, the Ravens battled to a 7-7 mark last December before gut-wrenching losses to two playoff teams, Cleveland (14-13) and at Pittsburgh (34-31) to finish the season. The Bills, meanwhile, fought their way to an 8-8 record after winning only three games in 2001. Both Baltimore and Buffalo are expected to be serious playoff contenders in 2003.

Team breakdowns

Baltimore Ravens:

Despite the youth of the Ravens, three of the franchise leaders have not been shy about their expectations for this team. Art Modell has compared the talent to the 2000 Raven team that won the Super Bowl. Both Ozzie Newsome and Brian Billick have stated that they expect the team to earn the playoffs. Part of the confidence is based on the unexpected 7-9 finish a year ago, when Baltimore fielded the youngest team in NFL history. Confidence comes from Coach Billick's proven year-round program that already produced a Super Bowl victory. And, you have Newsome and the team's personnel department's track record of acquiring superior talent that possess a passion to play at a high level. The defense, featuring linebacking and secondary sets that are very good, will play well. The offense, propelled by talent like Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, Jonathon Ogden and Travis Taylor, is the most balanced in the Billick era and should be able to control the ball and make explosive plays. The Kicking game, with Matt Stover and P Dave Zastudil, is top grade. First round selections LB Terrell Suggs and QB Kyle Boller should see plenty of game action for the Ravens.
Injuries: Javin Hunter (WR) – torn Achilles tendon, Bernardo Harris (LB) – Fractured leg, Mike Flynn (C) – knee surgery, Ray Perryman (S) – shoulder dislocation

Buffalo Bills:

The Bills enjoyed the biggest turnaround in team history, and the best in the AFC in 2002, when they improved by five games. The Bills earned an 8-8 mark a year ago after going 3-13 in 2001, their first season under head coach Gregg Williams. Williams and the Bills' front office now have a team that features one of the NFL's dynamic offenses, and are poised for a serious playoff run. Four Buffalo offensive players earned the Pro Bowl last season. This group is headed by QB Drew Bledsoe, now in his second season with the Bills, WR Eric Moulds, RB Travis Henry and G Ruben Brown, the older of the Ravens LB Cornell Brown. The Bills were aggressive in acquiring talent this off-season, among the signings were former Raven Pro Bowlers Sam Adams (DT) and Sam Gash (FB), along with LB Takeo Spikes, a standout the Ravens faced twice a year when he was a Bengal. First Round draft pick Willis McGahee has yet to sign with the team and is still recovering from a knee injury so he will not appear in the game but second round selection DE Chris Kelsay, a player many thought the Bills would have selected in round one, will be in uniform.
Injuries:Dave Moore (TE)- hamstring, Lavaule Sape (DT)- calf, Gary Byrd (OT)- knee.

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