By Conor Perrett
This week’s matchup sees two great but very different quarterbacks going head-to-head, as Lamar Jackson and his Ravens visit Raymond James Stadium to face Tom Brady and his Buccaneers.
Brady is your pocket QB that can sniff out any defences and can make any throw in the book. On the other side we have the agile athlete that plays the game in the NFL like it’s a video game in Lamar Jackson. With the Bucs looking to snap a two-game losing streak, they are slight underdogs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)
Power Rankings: 17th
DVOA Rankings: Offence – 19th, Defence – 5th, Special Teams – 24th, Overall – 8th
The Buccaneers offence has been one of the biggest disappointments in the league this season, and it has hit rock bottom the past two weeks, scoring just 21 total points in back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Carolina. Despite that, the Buccaneers are still tied for first place in the NFC South with a 3-4 record, but they remain a long way from where they expected to be or need to be to compete for an NFC Championship.
The problem of the Bucs offence has been told all season but what has been kept quiet is the rough month the defence has had as well.
Despite ranking fifth in defensive DVOA, three of the last four opponents have rushed for at least 150 yards against them. To put that into perspective, in the last three seasons that has only happened to them four times! To add to their problems, the Bucs now welcome in quarterback Lamar Jackson and a Ravens offence that has rushed for at least 150 yards in six straight games. That doesn’t bode well for the home side.
To make matters worse, Tampa will also be missing four of their top six defensive backs for the game. Making an inexperienced secondary and poor run defence a perfect recipe for disaster against a dynamic Ravens offence.
Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
Power Rankings – 6th
DVOA Rankings: Offence – 5th, Defence – 12th, Special Teams – 1st; Overall – 5th
Baltimore are looking to win consecutive games for the first time all season. They have been wildly inconsistent all season, while also letting several double-digit leads slip away in each of their three losses. That’s been the story of Baltimore’s season. They have been playing like a championship team until it gets to the fourth quarter. That final period where it all matters and the offence, defence and coaching staff have all made crucial mistakes in these moments. It has cost them games they should have ended long before.
Lamar Jackson has still been a star for this side doing damage to opposing defences in the air and on the ground. Lamar has 15 touchdowns on the year for six interceptions, but it’s the work he’s been doing on the ground that’s been most impressive. With 510 rushing yards on the season which is good for fifth in the league and from the quarterback position. He’s also averaging 7.7 yards per carry, which is a career high.
Baltimore has the pieces in place to be a contender. It’s just mental mistakes at the end of games that is holding them back. A win this week on the road against another Super Bowl contender, where they control a game towards the end should be a great stepping stone in the right direction.
Both teams entered the season as Super Bowl contenders but have been struggling of late, with the Bucs seeing a big fall in performance on offence and defence from the start of the season. In a classic Tom Brady story, against all odds of prime time tv, it would not at all be surprising to see him flip a switch that would have Tampa looking amazing again. But the state of this defence is concerning especially against a running attack like Baltimore have.
The Ravens themselves have been averaging 20 points through the last four weeks. Lacking wide receiver personnel has always been an issue and it has led to them being one-dimensional and a bit predictable at times.
I can see Brady and the Buccaneer’s offence getting back to their best in this game, but the injuries in the secondary are too much of a concern for me to pass over. Missing three of their starting four members of the secondary is a tough loss and when you combine that with the form of the run defence, that’s a lot of holes for Baltimore to exploit.
Ravens 27, Buccaneers 23