Way back in April, I must confess that I placed a long-odds future for these two teams to meet in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII. That ticket is looking pretty dreadful, as both of these teams have performed well below expectations thus far. The Bucs are a stunning 3-4, losing to some of the NFL’s worst due to some downright anemic offensive showings. The Ravens are just above .500, but all three of their losses have been catastrophic collapses, as they led big late in each of them. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some predictions as these two preseason favorites try to get their seasons back on track.
Ravens Vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds
The Bucs are 1.5 point underdogs at home, not a number you would’ve expected when you saw this game on the schedule, but they haven’t really earned much more. The points total is set at 45, pretty understandable given how both offenses and defenses have been playing of late.
Ravens Vs. Buccaneers Prediction
Anyone who thought that the Bucs would have a smooth transition out of the Arians era after elevating an existing member of the staff to head coach was sorely mistaken, as the Bowles administration has gotten off to essentially the worst possible start. After cruising to an easy opening day victory over Dak Prescott’s Cowboys and then squeaking by the Saints in an ugly one, the Bucs have gone 1-4. They’ve lost at home to the Chiefs and Packers (who might also be pretty bad), and then suffered a shocking road defeat to the Steelers, quarterbacked by a combination of Kenny Pickett and a resurgent Mitch Truisky, and then a 21-3 drubbing at the hands of a Panthers team that had just traded Christian McCaffrey and was led by an interim coach and PJ Walker. So it’s full panic mode down in Florida’s gulf coast, and this game is nothing short of a must-win; what could this team’s ceiling really be if they fall to 3-5?
The Ravens have a bit more wiggle room- they’re currently tied with the Bengals atop the north at 4-3, but dropping the division crown would drop them into an extremely competitive- and messy- AFC Wild Card race. The story of the season so far for Baltimore so far has been collapses. Their first loss of the year was in a game they led 35-14 in the fourth quarter, their second was after going up 20-3 against the Bills, and the most recent collapse was their late loss of a 20-10 lead over the New York Giants- not a misprint. Maybe Wink Martindale really was the glue holding this team together, but Baltimore has too much talent and coaching ability to keep doing this.
It’s an ugly spot for both teams, but the Bucs simply need this one more, have more indication towards positive regression, and frankly, it would be a little foolhardy to bet against Tom Brady at home against a team that has shown little to no ability to close out fourth quarters. I’ll take the Bucs against the modest spread, but at that point, I’d also be thinking about moneylining them to win the game outright. I’m also going to take the under; the Bucs should find a way to win, but they won’t make it pretty or blow the Ravens’ defense away. This is going to be a close, gritty one between floundering offenses, one of many we’ve seen on Thursday nights this year.
- The Ravens have not covered a spread in their past 4 games, although there has been one push mixed in that timeframe
- The Bucs have also not covered a spread in their past 5 games
- The under is 4-0 in the Ravens’ past 4 games, and 6-1 over the Bucs’ last 7; it’s been awhile since either team has been caught in a high-scoring affair
Ravens vs Buccaneers Key Injuries
Ravens Injuries: Ronnie Stanley (P), Mark Andrews (P), Marcus Peters (P), David Ojabo (Q)
Buccaneers Injuries: Antoine Winfield Jr (Q), Luke Goedeke (Q), Shaq Mason (P)
Ravens vs Buccaneers Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Ravens Vs. Buccaneers below.
Ravens Front 7 vs. Bucs O-Line
A date with a Ravens defense that’s allowing the 7th-most passing yards in the league might be just what Tampa’s shockingly challenged passing unit needs to get back on track. At the heart of Baltimore’s struggles with the pass have been a lackluster pass rush effort. They rank 25th in overall pressure rate, and lack a true lead pass rusher, outside of a 33-year old Justin Houston who has been in and out of the lineup. The possible return of rookie edge rusher David Ojabo can and should help in the long term, but if he plays at all on Thursday, it will likely be in a limited capacity, and he shouldn’t have an enormous impact on this game in particular.
They will be going up against a Bucs o-line that has struggled in a lot of ways. PFF says they’re the 10th-best pass blocking unit in the league, but ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate places them at a disgusting 28th in the NFL. They’ve been banged up, but there’s no room for excuses at this point; they simply have to be better under the circumstances they’ve been dealt. Tristan Wirfs has been absolutely disgusting once again, earning the second-best pass blocking grade amongst all linemen, and tops across the tackle position. Shaq Mason, not a guarantee to play on Thursday and certainly not at 100%, has been solid, but the rest of the Bucs’ blockers have been pretty dismal, especially Luke Goedeke who has struggled to an almost-impossibly bad PFF pass blocking grade of 29.2 while participating in almost all of Tampa’s pass snaps. Suffice it to say that he’ll need to be at least a good bit better for Tom Brady to have the time he needs to pick apart a vulnerable Ravens defense.
Ravens Receivers vs. Bucs Secondary
The Bucs’ secondary has been an absolute strength this season, ranking as the league’s third-best coverage unit as per PFF. However, it’s pretty likely that they’ll be without Antoine Winfield, a pivotal player over the top of the defense ever since his rookie season. Lavonte David has been his usual excellent self underneath, and Jamel Dean has played well at corner. It’ll be a team effort to compensate for Winfield’s absence, but all eyes will be on Mike Edwards, the other starting safety, who has also had a nice season so far.
They’ll be squaring off against a mostly-unheralded Ravens receiving group, led once again by Tight End Mark Andrews, the one superstar of the group. The Oklahoma alum by far leads the team in every category, with 39 catches, 455 yards and 5 scores. Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay have done nicely in support of Andrews, and they’ve produced pretty equally- their season yardage totals are within 3 of one another. Simply put, Lamar Jackson is excellent, he can hit throws all across the field and extend plays as well as anyone really in league history. If his receivers are able to have a strong day against one of the league’s best coverage units, he will be able to create offense and pull off the big road win. If the Bucs play to their ability, it’ll be tough going in this regard- but a much weaker Panthers receiving group did enough to score twice through the air, and of course secure an enormous win. You never know in the NFL- anything can happen any given Sunday or in this case, Thursday.