Deep Postseason Contenders
4. Baltimore Ravens (4-3, last week: 5)
The Ravens have led by double digits in every game this season, including their Week 7 win over the Browns, but they’ve been a mess in late-game situations. It nearly happened again Sunday with a fourth-quarter Justice Hill fumble. This time the Ravens survived, and while they’ve proven they can put up points and get out to leads early, the first- and second-half splits remain a significant concern.
Baltimore is tied for third in first-half point differential (45) but just 24th in the second half (-25). Lamar Jackson’s EPA per dropback average drops from seventh in the league in the first half (0.20) to 29th in the second half (-0.22). Opposing teams are adjusting to slow down Jackson and the offense in the second halves of games, turning two-score blowouts into nail-biters every single week. The result has been just two wins with two-score leads and three too many one-score losses.
Overall Rookie Grade: 73.3 (Rank: 2/20)
Principal Opponent: Kareem Hunt
Week 7 Snaps: 21
Hamilton again topped 20 snaps for the Ravens, appearing in their dime personnel package on defense. He was effectively playing dime linebacker, lining up next to Patrick Queen in the box on most of those snaps. He was stiff-armed to the ground by Kareem Hunt once, but his best play came beating the right guard for a sack on a heavy Ravens blitz. He ended up with two defensive stops on the day.
Overall Rookie Grade: 62.0 (Rank: 1/4)
Principal Opponent: Taven Bryan
Week 7 Snaps: 64
After running through a gauntlet of behemoth nose tackles in recent weeks, Linderbaum got a chance to play against Cleveland’s defensive line, which has one of the weakest groups of interior linemen in the league. He allowed just one pressure in the game, but it was a sack conceded to Taven Bryan where he failed to take over the block on a stunt.
Ravens are slight favorites over Buccaneers in Week 8 road trip - Jonas Shaffer
After a narrow home win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens (4-3) are favored by 1 1/2 points in the Week 8 game at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers (3-4), whose stunning 21-3 road loss to the Carolina Panthers was their fourth defeat in the past five games, have been favored in every game this season.
Tampa Bay was a one- to three-point favorite in the hours after its blowout loss Sunday, but the line has swung sharply in the Ravens’ favor since. The Buccaneers will likely be without Pro Bowl defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr., who has a concussion, coach Todd Bowles said Monday.
The Ravens lead the all-time series 4-2, with wins in four straight games. In their last matchup, a 2018 meeting in Baltimore, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, then a rookie, passed for 131 yards and ran for 95 in a 20-12 win. Thursday’s game is the Ravens’ first against quarterback Tom Brady as a Buccaneer.
The over-under for the game is 45 points.
Ravens Expect to See Tom Brady at His Best - Clifton Brown
Brady has an 8-4 career record against Baltimore – 6-2 during the regular season and 2-2 during the playoffs. This will be Brady’s first game against the Ravens since his 20-year run with the Patriots, and after watching the Ravens on film he expects a formidable test especially on a short week.
“It’s a tough team to prepare for because they do a lot defensively and they have a very difficult offense to defend,” Brady said. “So we got our work cut out for us. Baltimore’s 4-3, they have a good team, they play very physical. It’s a very tough, hard-nosed team. All those years in the AFC I feel like they’re still the same team, just tough hard-nosed guys that are very fundamentally sound.”
“I was like, ‘Thank God he’s coming back,’ because last year he retired, and I was like, ‘Oh, I just missed him,’” Oweh said. “He came back, so I guess it’s fate. It’s going to be good; I’m playing against the GOAT [greatest of all time], and that brings me jitters, so I hope I’ll have the opportunity to get after him.”
Week 8: Ravens Vs. Buccaneers Preview, Where to Watch, Prediction - Todd Karpovich
The Buccaneers have a stout pass defense that is ranked sixth in the league, allowing 190 yards per game. Tampa Bay loves to blitz and defensive tackle Vita Vea leads the team with 3.5 sacks. Devin White and Antoine Winfield Jr. also have three sacks apiece. Overall, the Buccaneers are tied for third in the NFL with 22 sacks. The pressure up front has led to turnovers and cornerback Jamel Dean has two interceptions. Overall, Tampa Bay has a plus-6 turnover ratio.
Brady’s favorite targets are Mike Evans (454 yards receiving) and Chris Godwin (293 yards) but cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters should be able to provide solid coverage. The Buccaneers running attack is led by Leonard Fournette, who has 362 yards rushing. He is a downhill runner that can be tough to tackle. The Ravens have been mostly stout against the run. The key will be not to let Brady take over the game.
Both teams are coming off a short week. The Ravens had a spirited 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns. The Buccaneers had a deflating 21-3 loss to the lowly Carolina Panthers and there has been some unrest among the players. This is a huge game for Tampa Bay to decide the direction of their season. The Ravens have some cushion after improving to 2-0 in the AFC North and will play with confidence.
Ravens 24, Buccaneers 17