The Bucs’ playoff hopes all but ended last week at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Despite the dreaded feeling of another postseason at home, there are still three games left to play.
The first of those three is the Baltimore Ravens. This is going to be a very tough matchup for the Bucs considering how good the Ravens are on defense.
But if Tampa Bay’s defense can continue their recent play, then the Bucs could find themselves in a position to win by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.
All-time series: Baltimore leads, 3-2. Tampa Bay is 1-2 at home and 1-1 on the road.
Longest win streak: The Ravens have won the last three meetings after Tampa Bay won the first two.
Largest victory: The Bucs suffered a humiliating 48-17 defeat in 2014.
2018 offensive and defensive rankings: Tampa Bay dropped to second overall in total offense (1st pass, 27th run) and remains at 27th in total defense (27th pass, 20th run). The Ravens own the 12th best offense (21st pass, 4th run) and the second-best defense (3rd pass, 4th run).
What to watch for
The 3-4 defense: It’s obvious that Tampa Bay struggles with 3-4 defenses, so it should be interesting to see how they handle one of the league’s best.
Jameis Winston’s safety: Expect Winston’s head to be on a swivel Sunday.
Cairo Santos and the Bucs’ special teams: How will everyone recover after a dreadful Week 14?
Improvement: A win against the Ravens would see the Bucs surpass their win total from 2017 (5-11).
Lamar Jackson: The rookie quarterback has played well since entering the starting lineup, but can he beat an improved Tampa Bay defense?
- The offensive line: Can the unit shed the label of achilles heel for one week?
- QB Jameis Winston: RUN JAMEIS!!
- WR Chris Godwin: The young receiver needs a good rebound game after last week’s dismal performance.
- DE Carl Nassib: He’ll have to help set the edge today.
- DT Vita Vea: This game has Vea’s name written all over it.
- LB Lavonte David: Per Nassib, David will be key in stopping the Ravens’ running game.
- QB Lamar Jackson: Baltimore’s playoff hopes are surging after Jackson took over the starting job.
- Running backs: Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, and Ty Montgomery will all split work out of the backfield.
- WR Michael Crabtree: He is a major red zone threat, but a good matchup for the Bucs’ secondary.
- NT Brandon Williams: The ultimate two-gapper, Williams is a monster in the middle of the trenches.
- LB Terrel Suggs: It’s simple - the Bucs struggle with pass protection on the outside.
- DB Jimmy Smith: He’ll likely be on Mike Evans, which will be a test on its own.
- On the season, 29.5 of the Tampa Bay’s 34.0 sacks have come from the team’s defensive line, tied for the second-most in the league.
- Over the past three weeks, the Buccaneers’ defense has been one of the best in the league at creating takeaways, tying for the most takeaways in the NFL and tying for the most interceptions in the league.
- The Buccaneers have recorded at least 500 yards of offense in five games this season. With one more game of 500 or more yards, the team will tie Denver (six in 2013) and Houston (six in 1961) for the most 500- yard games in a single season in NFL history.
*stats provided by Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department
If Tampa Bay’s offensive line can hold up in pass protection, then there is no reason to think that they can’t win this game. The Ravens defense is good, but you’ll get roasted - no matter who you are on defense - if you can’t get pressure in today’s NFL.
With that being said: have you seen the Bucs’ offensive line?
It’s simply offensive.
Plus even though the defense has improved, we’ve yet to see them play well on the road.
It’ll likely be a long day in Baltimore.