Slight Majority of Pundits Favor Ravens to Win in Tampa
The visiting Ravens are playing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team tonight that has dropped four of its past five games, including a stunning, 21-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday.
Are the Ravens (4-3) catching the reeling Buccaneers (3-4) at the right time? Or is Tampa Bay due for a "get right" game?
Fourteen of the 25 pundits who got their picks in by this morning predicted the Ravens, who are favored by 1.5 points, to prevail.
Based on history, however, the odds are in Tampa Bay's favor thanks to quarterback Tom Brady. He is 10-1 all-time on just three days' rest and 9-3 as a home underdog, per CBS Sports’ John Breech.). Plus, Brady is 8-4 against the Ravens.
Regardless of how poorly the Buccaneers have played as of late, Head Coach John Harbaugh will never underestimate the GOAT.
"It's Tom Brady," Harbaugh said. "It's the same style, the same basic kind of an offense that he's run over the years. It will be a big challenge for us."
Here's what the pundits are saying about the game:
The Ravens have the edge because the Buccaneers are struggling on both sides of the ball.
Breech: "The Buccaneers offense looks mostly broken and I'm not convinced it can be fixed in just three days. …The Buccaneers lost to a team (Carolina) last week that fired its coach and traded away its best player in a span of 11 days and if they can lose to the Panthers, they can lose to anyone. I mean, I'm not sure what rock bottom is in the NFL, but only scoring three points against the Panthers has to be close. Brady is probably starting to wish that he would have stayed retired. Not only is the Buccaneers offense broken, but their defense can't stop the run and that's the one weakness you can't afford to have when you're facing the Ravens, who rank fifth in the NFL with an average of 156.3 rushing yards per game."
The Buccaneers will do enough to win.
The Ringer’s Sheil Kapadia: "I trust [Tampa Bay Head Coach] Todd Bowles to come up with a good game plan against [Lamar] Jackson, and I still think the Bucs are capable of producing explosive plays in their passing game. Give me Tampa Bay."
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: "This is a game where Tom Brady and the Bucs get it going. Look for some deep shots for big plays as the Bucs get the best of the Ravens."
The Ravens' offense is a bad matchup for the Buccaneers defense.
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky: "You're facing an offense in Baltimore that can run the football. If you're a running football team and teams are blitzing and stunting and moving defensive linemen, if they're not in the right place you've got chances to bang your head against the goal post all the time. That's going to be the determination of this game. Does Tampa's defense settle down or does Baltimore take advantage of a unit that has struggled to do the little things consistently the right way over the last month."
The Ravens' passing attack could get back on track against an injury-depleted Buccaneers secondary.
Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones: "Baltimore's passing game has been moving in the wrong direction since the Week 3 win at New England, but the Buccaneers will be without four of their top six defensive backs. Even with Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman less than 100%, you'd like to think the Ravens can take advantage."
The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon: "I don't anticipate another subpar game from Lamar Jackson, especially in prime-time against Tom Brady. The Ravens earn a statement win."
It could be another Thursday night game in which touchdowns are sparse.
Jones: "The Buccaneers are tied for 27th in red-zone offense and 31st in red-zone defense. The Ravens are 26th in red-zone defense and 12th in red-zone offense, the latter number masking a 6-for-14 clip over the last four games. Justin Tucker and Ryan Succop could have busy evenings."
The Ravens will be hard-pressed to replicate last week's five-sack performance.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "Brady gets the ball out quicker than any quarterback in the league. He's throwing the ball in 2.43 seconds, according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats. Brady has been sacked one time or fewer in four of seven games and has been sacked more than twice in a game just once all year."
How Brady attacks Marcus Peters could be telling of what other teams are seeing from the veteran cornerback.
Zrebiec: "Brady can be surgical with exploiting matchups that he likes while avoiding the other team's top cover guys. … Peters has played in six games since returning from a torn ACL that cost him all of last season. It's been a mixed bag so far. He's allowed 20 catches on 31 targets for 293 yards and a touchdown, and quarterbacks have a 92.5 rating when throwing at him. He's also been called for four penalties. He's looked good at times, but he also seemed a step behind against the Browns, with Jacoby Brissett challenging him on several key plays. The thing about Peters is he'll give up some catches, but he's always a threat to make a game-changing play if a quarterback gets careless."
|Baltimore Sun||4 of 5 panelists pick Ravens||“This matchup feels like a repeat of the Ravens’ Week 5 win over the Bengals. Tampa Bay has a better defense and more explosive passing attack than the Ravens, but will injuries leave them too weakened to stress the Ravens before the snap? If the Ravens can run the ball well and tackle well in space, they should have their first winning streak of the season.” — Jonas Shaffer|
|The Athletic||Buccaneers 20, Ravens 17||“It’s inconceivable that the Buccaneers can continue to play this poorly on both sides of the ball with all the talent they have, and that Brady will author another meh performance in front of a prime-time audience against what used to be one of his biggest rivals. Perhaps, I’m giving the Buccaneers too much credit and not taking into account that the Ravens have plenty to prove themselves. And Thursday night games tend to be low-scoring, sloppy and unpredictable to begin with. However, the bet here is that Brady makes the winning plays late and the Ravens’ failure to cash in on opportunities bites them again.” — Jeff Zrebiec|
|NFL Network||5 of 10 panelists pick Ravens|
|Sporting News||Ravens 20, Buccaneers 17||“The Ravens' defense has started to play better overall. They are running the ball effectively to support Lamar Jackson, whose production has dropped off of late. The Bucs' only advantage here is playing at home, given the way the once-reliable passing game and run defense has performed. Tom Brady is still looking for a get-well game, but Baltimore is the wrong opponent for that.” — Vinnie Iyer|
|CBS Sports||1 of 2 panelists pick Ravens||“The Bucs are floundering after losing two straight. The offense is a mess. The Ravens have improved on defense, but their passing game is struggling a bit. This is a game where Tom Brady and the Bucs get it going. Look for some deep shots for big plays as the Bucs get the best of the Ravens.” — Pete Prisco|
|Sports Illustrated||3 of 5 panelists pick Ravens|
|Baltimore Positive||Buccaneers 20, Ravens 19||“This game is basically a coin flip for me, but I’ll lean slightly toward a desperate team with a recent championship pedigree playing at home on a short week. Tampa Bay pulls out a not-so-pretty 20-19 nail-biter.”|
Maurice Jones-Drew: Ravens Should Trade for Bears RB David Montgomery
Two playoff contenders traded for established running backs in the past week, with the San Francisco 49ers landing All-Pro Christian McCaffrey from the Panthers, and the New York Jets acquiring James Robinson from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
NFL.com analyst Maurice Jones-Drew named four other teams he believes should trade for a running back before the Nov. 1 deadline and identified a trade candidate for each. He thinks Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery would be a good fit for the Ravens.
"The Ravens put J.K. Dobbins back on IR after just four games, leaving the Ravens backfield with Gus Edwards, Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill," Jones-Drew wrote. "Edwards scored 2 TDs on Sunday, his first game of the season, and Drake has been good at times but is too inconsistent. Making a trade for David Montgomery, who's splitting carries with Khalil Herbert in Chicago, would give Baltimore a big boost.
"Montgomery is a downhill, tackle-breaking running back, much like Dobbins, and would add another wrinkle to the Ravens' run-first offense. Though Montgomery isn't used heavily as a receiving option in Chicago, he could pair well with Lamar Jackson as an every-down workhorse or provide the Ravens with a solid option in short-yardage situations."