On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a must-win game. The 7-6 Ravens are in the driver’s seat to clinch a playoff game, but the Ravens will need to win at least two of their final three games. Baltimore cannot afford to drop an expected win this late in the season. Despite the Buccaneers 5-8, the Buccaneers will present a challenge to the Ravens. Baltimore will be tasked with controlling an offense that leads the league in both passing and total yards gained. The Ravens were able to find success against a similar threat in Kansas City, but could not hold on to the victory. For the Ravens to grab the win this week, they will have to outplay the Buccaneers in three key battles.
Ravens Secondary Must Dominate
While the signal caller is prone to mistakes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot of weapons for him on offense. Jameis Winston has the privilege of playing with elite wide receivers like Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson (ruled out). Tampa Bay also has young and talented offensive gems like wide receiver Chris Godwin and tight end OJ Howard (ruled out). Baltimore will have to work hard to hold these weapons from cutting through the defensive wall. In order to do this, the Ravens secondary must dominate. Marlon Humphrey (if he plays) must come back from a lousy showing in Kansas City. Jimmy Smith must hold down the fort, and Brandon Carr must perform at a high level. The Ravens will not face Tampa at full strength, however, as wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end OJ Howard will both sit out. The Ravens must capitalize on this opportunity, and stop the air attack from landing Tampa Bay in the end zone.
Ravens Offense Must Score Consistently
The Ravens offense will have to match whatever the fast-moving Buccaneers put on the scoreboard. Depending on how the defense performs, the need to score will either be minuscule or massive. Quarterback Lamar Jackson will need to move the ball down the field, both with his legs and his arm. Jackson has struggled in the passing attack but is improving every week. He can make use of offensive weapons like Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown. These three receivers will be available for the rookie to launch the ball down the field. The Buccaneers defense is bad, statistically the sixth worst. Baltimore’s success with Jackson has come against bad defenses thus far, and the Ravens will look to continue the streak on Sunday.
Martindale Must Confuse Winston
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is not known for his great decision making. The Florida State product has made plenty of mistakes throughout his young NFL career. These mistakes have often landed him on the bench. The Ravens will work to see it happen in this game. To ensure that Winston struggles, the Ravens will continue to use a defense aimed to confuse quarterbacks. Ravens defensive coordinator, Don “Wink” Martindale, stresses a defensive scheme filled with blitzes and formations that show one thing and do the other. The Ravens have had success with this scheme this year, especially with young quarterbacks. If Baltimore can get Jameis Winston confused, the defense will be gifted turnovers, and the Ravens a win.
The Baltimore Ravens will defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a close matchup at home. The Ravens will have a hard time keeping control of Tampa Bay’s offense, which will score points often. The Ravens will be able to keep pace, however, as the secondary will create multiple turnovers, giving the offense great field position. The Ravens will escape the day with a win, but not without being scared first. Baltimore will trail at some point in the fourth quarter, but rally to win the game in regulation. The final score will be 28-27 in the Ravens favor.