Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson heard mention of snow in the forecast for Saturday in Buffalo and he immediately became fearful of a playing surface that may cause tough sledding for his speedy feet.
Jackson might have to cope with such conditions when the fifth-seeded Ravens battle the second-seeded Buffalo Bills in an AFC divisional matchup on Saturday night in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Early forecasts call for a 40 percent chance of snow and up to an inch of accumulation.
“That definitely would be my first time playing football in the snow — Saturday, if it does (snow),” said Jackson, a native of Pompano Beach, Fla.. “Hopefully, it doesn’t.”
Jackson is more interested in using his wheels on non-slippery terrain when he attempts to lead the Ravens past Josh Allen and the Bills.
Buffalo edged the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 last weekend in the wild-card round while the Ravens ousted the Tennessee Titans 20-13.
The playoff victory was the first for the Bills since Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas engineered a 37-22 win over the Miami Dolphins in a wild-card matchup on Dec. 30, 1995.
Allen made it clear that the Bills didn’t arrive just to win one game and head into the offseason satisfied.
“It doesn’t matter what we did — it’s back to 0-0,” Allen said. “They’re 0-0 and they’re coming into our house. We got another home game, and we have to prepare and get ready to go.”
The overwhelming belief is that this encounter will be decided by the quarterbacks.
Allen, in his third season, had the breakthrough campaign many anticipated, setting franchise records with 4,544 yards and 37 touchdown passes. He added 421 yards and eight scores on the ground.
He was on his game against the Colts, completing 26 of 35 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Allen also ran for 54 yards and one score on 11 carries.
Jackson, also part of the 2018 draft class, was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2019. This season, he passed for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 1,005 yards and seven scores. He is the first quarterback in NFL history to top 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons.
Jackson connected on 17 of 24 passes for 179 yards and one interception against the Titans. He did his real damage with his legs, rushing for 136 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
The touchdown came on a 48-yard scamper after Jackson dropped back to pass.
“Those are the type of plays that keep defensive coordinators up at night,” Bills defense coordinator Leslie Frazier said, “when you see that, when guys are in position and they aren’t able to make that play because that player is so special on the other side.
“Lamar has done that in his short NFL career to the point where he’s been an MVP already. He’s capable of making you look bad at times. You just gotta be able to keep working and hopefully be able to corral him at some point.”
The Bills were able to lasso Jackson a few times in last season’s meeting at Buffalo. He managed just 40 yards on 11 rushes with a long of 16 yards, but Baltimore won the game 24-17 as Jackson threw for three touchdowns while accumulating 145 passing yards. Allen passed for 146 yards and a score.
While the Bills are slight favorites, the Ravens certainly don’t view themselves as underdogs. Last weekend, they shut down Tennessee 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry (40 yards on 18 carries) and they have a deeper recent history of playing in big games than Buffalo does.
“We’ve got a team full of tough players who are going to go to battle and who are going to scratch and claw for each other,” Baltimore cornerback Marcus Peters said. “It’s an organizational DNA built for January, which is exactly why the Ravens are the playoff team no one is excited to see.”
Peters (back) and linebacker Matthew Judon (illness) didn’t participate in Baltimore’s walkthrough on Tuesday. Among the Buffalo players who were limited in practice were receivers Stefon Diggs (oblique) and Cole Beasley (knee) and defensive tackle Ed Oliver (ankle).
The Bills also placed running back Zack Moss (ankle) on injured reserve, leaving Devin Singletary as the main ball carrier.