Sunday’s opponent seems eerily similar to the past several games that the Ravens have been played in – a high flying offense with an impressive passing game. Also, the Bucs are similar to the Chiefs, Falcons, and Raiders in that they have a bottom third ranked defense. All this means that Lamar has yet to face a legitimate defensive team in his early weeks as a starter. I count that as exceptionally good fortune as rookies need all the breaks that they can get in the NFL. To be fair though the Bucs defense has been much better in recent weeks and their front four is pretty good at getting after the quarterback – Lamar will need to have eyes in the back of his head on Sunday and will need to have some pocket awareness to avoid making turnovers.
The wounded Ravens secondary will again be challenged this week to take on some of the league’s best receivers as almost all of our cornerbacks have some kind of injury. It helps that the Ravens are deep with CBs this year and just about all them are getting snaps on Sunday. While the secondary has been a patch work at times – they have held up pretty well against some of the league’s best. The Ravens had better keep tabs of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as they are very talented receivers and are capable of big plays. The Ravens catch a break this week in that DeSean Jackson is out with a thumb injury. As in recent games the secondary has to keep the game in front of them and avoid the big yardage plays. The Ravens front four has done a good job in recent weeks and they need to keep that going. QB pressure is the best help that you can give to your secondary. A hurried QB is prone to errant throws and to making mistakes – all of which we will want to see from Winston this Sunday. Bucs are the currently the number one offense in the league with 446 yards per game, and are the leading passing team with 347 yards per game. The weather forecast shows that it will be wet so it will be interesting to see how that affects the game.
Sunday’s game is a must win to stay in the hunt for the playoffs, and as it stands today with several AFC teams in the hunt –it appears that our best chance to get to the post season is for us to win the AFC North. A month ago that seemed highly unlikely but today there is some hope as the Steelers have faltered in recent weeks. Let’s all hope that the Steelers fall to the Pats on Sunday. The Ravens game plan on Sunday will be exactly what you have seen for the past four weeks – lots of run options and enough passes to keep the safeties from pressing the line of scrimmage. The injuries in the Ravens secondary is disconcerting but I am hoping that they are healthy enough to keep the Bucs from racking up too many successful drives. The Ravens defense needs to force some turnovers and make this game uphill for the Bucs. If the Ravens can run successfully and burn the clock on their drives, they can beat the Bucs and keep their opponent’s offense on the sidelines. Vegas has the Ravens by 7 ½ but I would be surprised if they cover that. The over/under is set at 46 ½ points and like the over. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.
Tampa Bay Bucs hosted by the Baltimore Ravens – December 16th at 1:00 pm
Odds – Ravens by 7 ½
Score Ravens 27 Bucs 23
Turnovers Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 177 Bucs 68
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 186 Bucs 243
• Ravens get 2 interceptions
• Lamar/Edwards/Dixon each have over 65 yards rushing
• Judon gets two sacks one of them a strip
• Refs make terrible calls
Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Ravens sit atop the AFC North
Keys to the Game
• Run the ball and burn the clock
• Pressure Winston and force mistakes
• Protect the Rock!