The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back home this week as they play host to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football. The Bucs dropped to 3-4 following Sunday’s loss to the Panthers as the Ravens hope to continue to improve on their 4-3 record.
We fired off some questions regarding the state of Baltimore’s team for Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle Barber to see if he can shed some light on what’s going on with the Ravens heading into Week 8.
1. Baltimore’s losses have been by one score. What has been the difference from their 4-3 record to potentially being undefeated or just putting up that extra touchdown to have a better record?
It’s been a myriad of issues. Finishing drives on offense has been one of the greatest struggles, though. People talk about the fourth quarter being so volatile but when the Ravens continue to let these teams hang around by kicking field goals in the first three quarters, it makes for a challenging fourth.
Each blown lead has been something different. The first one was a defensive collapse. The second, offensive struggles. The most recent was discipline and coaching failures. But, the players are chalking it up to ‘growing pains’ and it’s not too off-base. New coordinator on defense and all these players returning from injury has been a slow process.
2. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of the best in the league in several statistical categories. How should the Buccaneers game plan to defend the threat that is Jackson?
Earlier in the season, Jackson was the No. 1 quarterback against the blitz. These past few weeks, that’s changed, and he’s struggling once more. Naturally, he’s facing a good blitzing defense in the Buccaneers and I think getting him uncomfortable, just like any other quarterback, will put him in a bind.
3. Baltimore is near the bottom of the league against the pass according to NFL.com. Tampa Bay’s offense hasn’t been able to get anything going this season. Is there any chance quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs get things going this week offensively against the Ravens?
When the secondary is healthy, namely their cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, they’re rock-solid. Sadly, both were on the injury report on Monday with a hamstring and quad injury, respectively.
Some has to do with the new system. Some has to do with just an ugly game against the Dolphins. A part is due to the young cornerbacks that aren’t as far along as the team had hoped. In all, they’re ‘going through it.’
I think attacking Peters and the whoever the Ravens No. 3 cornerback is what you’ll see a lot of on Thursday. Peters looked a bit slow against the Browns and if we all know Brady, he’ll see that on film and go attack him and their No. 3 guy.
4. What aspect of the Ravens so far this season has been doing well that may cause problems for the Buccaneers on Thursday night?
The Ravens’ rushing attack has come into form as of late. Their offensive line has all five starters, though they’re a bit nicked up. Running back Gus Edwards returned on Thursday and immediately began bulldozing. With the passing attack dropping off after their quick start, look for Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman to lean on the physical bruising run game we think of when you imagine the Ravens.
5. At the time of this writing, Tampa Bay is a 1.5-point favorite. How do you see this game ultimately playing out?
Yeah, I’m a bit surprised by the line but I’m not disagreeing with it. The Ravens have struggled in the fourth quarter and Tom Brady sure would love to add another fourth quarter comeback to his career numbers.
I think we see another Thursday night slop-fest. Teams are both banged up and short weeks are just so grueling. But in games like this Justin Tucker becomes of greater importance and I suspect he will put the game in the Ravens’ favor
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the over/under is currently set to 45.5 for this matchup.