After a disappointing – and almost season-ending – loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Bucs will try to keep their very slim playoff hopes alive with a win on Sunday in Baltimore. The Ravens have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They allow an average of only 235.5 yards through the air (Tampa’s average of passing yards allowed is 331.4).
It will be tough for Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers to move the ball on a road in a hostile environment in Baltimore. The Ravens’ record is 7-6 and they can not afford to lose to the Bucs, as they are in the thick of playoff contention.
After missing multiple games due to injury, Baltimore’s long-time quarterback Joe Flacco seems to be available again for this matchup. However, according to multiple reports, the Ravens intent on starting their dangerous rookie Lamar Jackson. Jackson is a prototypical dual-threat quarterback, maybe the most prototypical one to enter the league since Michael Vick. He’s a weapon in the passing game and is always to be reckoned with on the ground. He has only started four games so far, but he is already the Ravens’ leading rusher with 471 yards and three touchdowns. Since taking the starting job, Jackson has taken off on the ground almost 18 times a game. No quarterback in the Super Bowl era has ever ran for more yards in their first four starts than Lamar Jackson.
If Duffner and the Bucs defense find a way to contain Jackson, Tampa Bay has a shot at winning this game and staying alive in the playoff hunt.
Offensively, the line needs to find a way to protect their quarterback better. The second half against the Saints was unacceptable. If they continue where they left off against the Saints it will be a very long day for the Bucs.
In what will most likely be a low scoring affair, the Bucs do not find a way to figure out a tricky Baltimore defense. It will be the worst performance of the Buccaneers offense this season as far as yardage is concerned. The Ravens officially dash even the most optimistic Bucs fans’ last hopes of playing in January and beat Tampa Bay.
Final score: 13 – 10 Ravens!