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2022 Game Preview: Ravens-Buccaneers, Week 8

Baltimore's prime-time visit to Raymond James Stadium on Thursday features two teams currently tied for the lead in their respective divisions, but the Buccaneers are trying to reverse several troubling trends as they face MVP candidate Lamar Jackson

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost four of their last five games and, after the most recent and perhaps most dispiriting one on Sunday in Charlotte, Head Coach Todd Bowles didn't try to downplay the magnitude of the team's struggles.

"We're going to see what we're made of, how many people can handle adversity, and this is about as dark as it's going to be right now. Those guys who are going to step up are going to show up this week in practice. Our leaders are going to lead, our coaches are going to coach and we're just going to dig and keep our head down. … We're going to see what we have going forward, see how many people crumble when it's dark and see how many people step up and start playing better and start coaching better."

The Buccaneers will be looking to find their way out of the dark using the lights at Raymond James Stadium, as they play in their third prime-time game of the season. The Bucs will share the national spotlight with the visiting Baltimore Ravens, who in one sense are in a similar situation to their Week Eight Foes. Despite dropping to 3-4, the Buccaneers are tied for first place in the NFC South with Atlanta and hold a head-to-head tiebreaker. The Ravens are just a game better at 4-3 and are also tied for first in the AFC North with Cincinnati. They also hold a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bengals.

However, while the Ravens have had a trio of disappointing late-game losses – they only trailed for a total of two minutes through their first six games yet were 3-3 – they have a plus-20 point differential and have faced the league's hardest schedule (.617 SOS). They also come into Week Eight with a head of steam after beating both the Bengals and Browns in the past three weeks, albeit by slim margins.

The Buccaneers, in contrast, are trying to get their offense going and are having difficulty playing a full 60 minutes on defense without some late-game breakdowns. Expectations were high for a team that had Tom Brady back for a third season and was coming off back-to-back campaigns that included a Super Bowl in 2020 and an NFL-best 13-4 regular-season record in 2021. Personnel changes on offense, particularly on the O-Line, and persistent injuries to the receiving corps were areas of concern but the passing game is taking longer to find a consistent and productive identity than expected. And the Bucs last two losses have come against teams that previously had just one win and were considered heavy underdogs. That makes a visit from a prime AFC contender seem even more daunting.

The Buccaneers don't have long to dwell on their 21-3 loss to the Panthers because now the dreaded "short week" arrives with its own set of challenges. Thursday night football games are arguably a bit tougher on the road team, which has to add travel to its very truncated weekly schedule, but the Buccaneers are facing both a growing injury list and one of the NFL's singular challenges.

That challenge, of course, is 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, who is in the conversation for that honor again in 2022. Tampa Bay has already run up against the other MVPs of the last four seasons – Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (2020 and 2021) – but now have to complete the trifecta against a player who is just as likely to stress them with his legs as with his arms. Not only is Jackson fourth in the NFL with 13 touchdown passes but he's also run for two more scores. He is far and away the Ravens' leading rusher with 510 yards and 7.7 yards per carry, and the Buccaneers' defense will have to prepare for both designed QB runs and sudden scrambles that can turn into big gains in a hurry.

Baltimore's defense, long known for applying a huge amount of pressure with talented fronts and having turnover machines in the secondary, is more middle of the road in most statistical rankings this year under first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald. Macdonald doesn't dial up the blitzes at the same extreme rate as his predecessor, Wink Martindale, but he still can deploy a lot of defensive star power with the likes of Calais Campbell, Odafe Oweh, Patrick Queen, Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey.

On paper, the Buccaneers' Week Eight opponent is even more challenging than the last two, but their recent results have demonstrated that such paper isn't nearly as predictive as expected. Now that they are the underdogs, the Bucs must find a way to rewrite the script and get their season back on track.

"We need the win, we need the win," said inside linebacker Devin White. "We're a ballclub that can win a lot of games, and we will win a lot of games. Being at the top of the division is good for playoff picture, but we've got to fix the task at hand right now before we even start thinking about the playoffs because we'd just be a one-and-done team. It's important to get back on the right track of things."

GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

Thursday, October 27, 8:15 p.m. ET

Raymond James Stadium (capacity: 69,000)

Tampa, Florida

Television: Prime Video and Fox (Locally)

*For information on how to subscribe to Prime Video, which includes a free 30-day trial, step-by-step setup instructions, compatible devices and more, click here.

TV Broadcast Team: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst), Kaylee Hartung (reporter)

Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station

Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (reporter)

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

Coming to the game or enjoying pregame festivities? Check out our Buccaneers Gameday Page for everything you need to know about getting ready for the game, Tailgate Packages, Bucs Beach and more!

TICKETING INFORMATION

The 2022 season is here and there are a limited number of Single Game Tickets on sale now! Visit Buccaneers.com to purchase tickets.

ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES

On January 28, 2001, the Baltimore Ravens came to Raymond James Stadium (home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – and won the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history, rolling over the New York Giants, 34-7. On Sept. 15, 2002, the Buccaneers went to Ravens Stadium (home of the Ravens, you might surmise, and now called M&T Bank Stadium) and got the first victory in their run to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

The Buccaneers and Ravens haven't met often – the only team Tampa Bay has played less frequently in the regular season is the Houston Texans – but they each have some pretty fond memories of the other's venue. There have also been some radically high and low notes for both sides despite how brief the series is. For instance, each team already has a shutout in their head-to-head log; in contrast, the Buccaneers have played the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints a combined 116 times and only three of those games have ended with one team failing to score. (It was the wrong team each time; don't ask for details.)

Overall, Baltimore leads the series, 4-2, winning four straight after the Buccaneers prevailed in the first two meetings in 2001 and 2002. This series includes the third-longest touchdown of any kind in Buccaneers history, a 97-yard pick six that launched Derrick Brooks' 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year campaign. It also includes the largest halftime lead in Ravens annals, as Baltimore took a 38-0 advantage into halftime of an eventual 48-17 win in Tampa in October of 2014.

When the Buccaneers took the first road trip of their 2002 Super Bowl season, to Baltimore in Week Two, they visited the Ravens home just four days after Baltimore legend Johnny Unitas had passed away at the age of 69. The Ravens honored the former Colts quarterback in a pregame ceremony and painted his number 19 on the field where he used to stand. The actual quarterback on that day for Baltimore could hardly have been farther on the other end of the notoriety scale, as Chris Redman was making the first start of his NFL career (the first of just 12). He was the player victimized by Brooks' thievery, as the Bucs were able to hang on to a 25-0 shutout while allowing just 173 yards of offense.

It has been an interesting series for the quarterbacks, as a matter of fact. Elvis Grbac definitely didn't enjoy what would be the second-to-last start of his career when he faced a swarming Buccaneers defense in 2001, but Steve McNair, the long-time Oiler/Titan was enjoying a late-career renaissance when he led the Ravens to a whitewash of the Buccaneers five years later. Grbac was picked off twice and sacked five times in a 22-10 decision in '01 but McNair was on the right side of a 27-0 decision in 2006 when the Ravens picked off Chris Simms three times and only gave up 142 yards of offense and eight first downs.

The most recent game in the series was four years ago in Baltimore. It was closer than most of the others, with Baltimore held on for a 20-12 win in which neither Jameis Winston nor Lamar Jackson provided many offensive fireworks.

NOTABLE CONNECTIONS

· Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, who signed with the Ravens on September 26, played the previous four seasons in Tampa and was a member of the Super Bowl LV-winning squad in the 2020 campaign. Acquired in an offseason trade with the Giants in 2018, Pierre-Paul recorded 33.0 sacks in 54 games as a Buccaneer and is tied for eighth in franchise history in career sacks.

· Baltimore outside linebacker Stephen Means, who is currently on injured reserve, first entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick by the Buccaneers in the 2013 draft. He played in 10 games as a rookie and one more for the Bucs in 2014 before being waived.

· Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who signed to the Ravens' practice squad last week, played for the Buccaneers in 2017 and 2018. He appeared in 26 games with 23 starts for Tampa Bay and contributed 91 catches for 1,442 yards and seven touchdowns. The Buccaneers traded Jackson back to his original NFL team, the Eagles, in March of 2019.

· Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen, who is currently on injured reserve, entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick of the Ravens in 2013. He started nine games over his first four seasons in Baltimore, but emerged as the starting center in 2017 and played well enough to earn a lucrative deal in free agency with Tampa Bay the following offseason. Jensen started all 71 games over the next four seasons, playoffs included, and earned his first Pro Bowl berth last year. However, Jensen suffered a knee injury on the second day of training camp this summer and the timetable for his return remains unclear.

· Tampa Bay wide receiver Breshad Perriman was drafted by the Ravens with the 26th overall pick in 2015 but injuries plagued his three-year stint in Baltimore and he only played in 27 games with four starts in that span.

· Buccaneers Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Thaddeus Lewis was with the Ravens for a portion of the preseason in 2017 as a backup quarterback. He played in three preseason games and completed 11 of 16 passes for 86 yards.

· Scott Cohen, currently the Ravens' director of football research, was on Tampa Bay's personnel staff for two seasons, as the senior personnel advisor in 2013 and the director of pro scouting in 2014.

SENIOR COACHING STAFFS

Tampa Bay:

· Head Coach Todd Bowles

· Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin

· Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

· Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers

· Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote

· Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong

Baltimore:

· Head Coach John Harbaugh

· Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman

· Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald

· Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton

KEY 2022 ROSTER ADDITIONS

Buccaneers:

· P Jake Camarda (fourth-round draft pick)

· WR Russell Gage (UFA)

· G Luke Goedeke (second-round draft pick)

· DL Logan Hall (second-round draft pick)

· T Fred Johnson (FA)

· WR Julio Jones (FA)

· TE Ko Kieft (sixth-round draft pick)

· G Shaq Mason (trade–NE)

· CB Zyon McCollum (fifth-round draft pick)

· OLB Carl Nassib (FA)

· S Keanu Neal (UFA)

· TE Cade Otton (fourth-round draft pick)

· TE Kyle Rudolph (FA)

· S Logan Ryan (FA)

· RB Rachaad White (third-round draft pick)

Ravens:

· CB Jalyn Armour-Davis

· RB Mike Davis (FA)

· RB Kenyan Drake (FA)

· T Daniel Faalele (fourth-round draft pick)

· CB Kyle Fuller (FA…on injured reserve)

· S Kyle Hamilton (first-round draft pick)

· DT Travis Jones (third-round draft pick)

· TE Isaiah Likely (fourth-round draft pick)

· C Tyler Linderbaum (first-round draft pick)

· T Morgan Moses (UFA)

· OLB David Ojabo (second-round draft pick…on reserve/NFI)

· DT Michael Pierce (FA…on injured reserve)

· OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (FA)

· WR Demarcus Robinson (FA)

· P Jordan Stout (fourth-round draft pick)

· CB Damarion Williams (fourth-round draft pick)

· S Marcus Williams (UFA…on injured reserve)

ADDITIONAL 2022 CHANGES OF NOTE

Buccaneers:

· While the Bucs continue to maintain enviable continuity on their coaching staff, there is a new person in the corner office. In March, Bruce Arians stepped down after three years as the head coach and took on a new role as a senior advisor to the general manager. Todd Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to take his place. Bowles previously served as the New York Jets' head coach from 2015-18 before rejoining Arians when the latter came on as the Buccaneers' head coach in 2019.

· With Bowles stepping up the Bucs needed a new defensive coordinator and they essentially named two of them. Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers added the title of Run Game Coordinator while Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote switched to inside linebackers and added the title of Pass Game Coordinator. They are in effect co-defensive coordinators. Bob Sanders joined the staff to take over for Foote in the outside linebackers room. Foote made his switch after Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell landed the defensive coordinator position in Jacksonville under new Head Coach Doug Pederson.

· The Buccaneers had two key players retire after the 2021 season, but only one of them stayed retired. While quarterback Tom Brady eventually elected to return 40 days after announcing he was stepping away from the game, his long-time buddy Rob Gronkowski walked away for good, leading to big changes in the Bucs' tight end room. While veteran Cam Brate returned, O.J. Howard left in free agency and the Buccaneers subsequently drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft and signed veteran Kyle Rudolph.

· Tampa Bay's defense also saw the departure of two front-seven stalwarts from the extremely successful 2020-21 seasons, as neither DL Ndamukong Suh nor OLB Jason Pierre-Paul was re-signed. The team signed veteran standout Akiem Hicks and drafted Houston's Logan Hall 33rd overall to address depth up front and are relying on 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to step up on the edge.

Ravens:

· The Ravens made a notable change to their senior coaching staff in the offseason, parting ways with former Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale in January and six days later filling the opening by bringing back Mike MacDonald. MacDonald was the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh in 2021, but he spent the previous seven seasons working for the Ravens and Jim Harbaugh. MacDonald started his first Baltimore stint in 2014 as a coaching intern but later served as a defensive assistant, the defensive backs coach and the linebackers coach. Martindale, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Giants, was (and remains) known for his aggressive blitzing tendencies but Macdonald has dialed that rate back in his first season at the defense's helm. The Ravens ranked sixth in the NFL in blitz rate in 2021 but have dropped to 20th in 2022.

· Baltimore also dismissed inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan after just one year on the job; Ryan had replaced Macdonald when the latter left for Michigan. Zachary Orr was hired to tutor the position. Other changes to Harbaugh's staff included Rob Leonard taking over for Drew Wilkins at outside linebackers coach, George Godsey replacing Bobby Engram as tight ends coach, Mike Devlin replacing Richard Angulo as assistant offensive line coach and Ryan Osborn coming on as a defensive assistant.

· The Baltimore roster experienced a change at one position that hadn't had any for 16 years. Punter Sam Koch retired after 16 seasons in the NFL, all with the Ravens. Koch missed only one of a possible 257 games in that span and made the Pro Bowl in 2015. Baltimore pivoted by drafting Penn State's Jordan Stout in the fourth round, making him the first punter selected in this year's draft, three spots before the Bucs took Georgia punter Jake Camarda.

· Koch wasn't the only Ravens veteran to elect for retirement in the offseason, as left tackle Alejandro Villanueva hung up his cleats, too, after one season in Baltimore and six with the Steelers. Villanueva spent most of last season as the Ravens left tackle because Ronnie Stanley had to undergo surgery to address an ankle injury that also caused him to miss most of the 2020 campaign. Though he only appeared in a total of seven games over the 2020-21 seasons, Stanley had won first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors in 2019, his last full season. He's back at left tackle for the Ravens in 2022 but the same ankle has limited him to two games so far.

· The Ravens executed a surprise trade during the first night of the 2022 draft, sending wide receiver Marquise Brown and a third-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for the 23rd-overall selection. Baltimore later made another small trade down with that pick before using it to select Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum at number 25. Coincidentally, Brown was also the 25th pick in the 2019 draft, and he played three seasons with the Ravens, accumulating 195 catches for 2,361 yards and 21 touchdowns.

TOP STORYLINES

Reversing the Trend on Offense – Nearing the midpoint of the 2022 season, the Buccaneers' offense is averaging 17.7 points per game, down nearly two touchdowns from their 2021 average of 30.1. Moreover, it has been trending in the wrong direction for the last month, with a drop in production for three straight weeks culminating in last Sunday's three-point outing at Carolina. Without the luxury of returning every single starter from a Super-Bowl winning team, as was the case last year, the Buccaneers expected their offense to spend a month or two finding out what it did best and settling into a groove. However, as Tom Brady noted after last Sunday's loss, the offense still hasn't established any consistency, commonly following one good play with a bad one, which makes it difficult to sustain drives or take advantage of scoring opportunities. Issues that would hopefully just be a temporary matter – such as third down conversion rate, short-yardage success and red zone touchdown production – have persisted. Nevertheless, the Buccaneers have a significant amount of talent on offense and a belief that they will find the answers and get back to scoring in the 20s and 30s on a consistent basis. For their hopes of a deep playoff run to remain intact, they will need their current trend to reverse soon, hopefully under the prime-time spotlight on Thursday.

DB Depth Test – Tampa Bay's pass defense in 2022 has been good, reflective of a secondary that, while still relatively young, has been together for multiple seasons and saw a couple of key veterans added in 2022. The Bucs rank sixth in passing yards allowed per game (190.0) and fourth in yards allowed per pass play (5.76). However, they've recently had to hold the defensive backfield together with duct tape and might need to be even more creative in Week Eight. The latest setback is a concussion suffered by star safety/slot corner Antoine Winfield Jr., who has been arguably the team's most dependable defensive player so far in 2022. Winfield, who likely would have been central to the efforts to keep Lamar Jackson contained, isn't expected to play on Thursday night. Cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting are also major question marks and even practice squad cornerback Anthony Chesley, called up from the practice squad the last two games for some emergency depth, now has a hamstring injury. Safety Logan Ryan is on injured reserve with a foot ailment. The Buccaneers' current depth chart in the secondary, naming only players not on the injury report, consists of Jamel Dean, Zyon McCollum, Dee Delaney, Mike Edwards and Keanu Neal. Depending upon the availability of Davis and Murphy-Bunting on Thursday night – neither practiced on Monday – the Buccaneers may be forced to scramble for some added depth.

Can Lamar Be Contained? – Ravens QB Lamar Jackson won the MVP in 2019, his first full season as a starter, on the strength of 36 touchdown passes (against only six interceptions) and 3,127 passing yards combined with 1,206 rushing yards and seven more scores. Through seven games this season, Jackson is on pace to throw for 3,393 yards and 32 touchdowns and run for another 1,239 yards (admittedly in a 17-game season as opposed to 16 in 2019). As Todd Bowles explained on Monday, Jackson presents a test for a defense that no one else in the league can duplicate: "He brings a huge challenge for us because he's probably the best runner, not just quarterback runner but one of the best runners in the league. Very smart, can throw the ball down the field, strong arm, very elusive. Even if you blitz him you're not going to catch him, so we've got to have some different ways of trying to play him. A lot of people have tried, a lot of people have failed. He's a winner, he comes out to compete every week and plays every week, plays smart. I like watching him play when we're not playing him, but we've got to come out and play our game and just try to make sure he doesn't kill us out of the pocket. We can't stop him, we've got to slow him down enough to where we can make some plays."

Moving the Line – The Buccaneers may have a lineup change on offense, too, if rookie left guard Luke Goedeke can't play on Thursday due to a fresh foot injury. That would likely push second-year man Nick Leverett into the lineup for his first career start. Leverett was already earning some playing time, as he alternated with Goedeke in the lineup during Sunday's game at Carolina. Whoever is in the lineup, the Buccaneers are looking for more push up front, with a running game that ranks last in the NFL and some unfortunate short-yardage failures in recent weeks. That includes a pair of no-gains on third-and-one and fourth-and-one at the Carolina 25 with the score still just 7-0. "I don't even know what to say about it," said All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs of the issues on third-and-one. "I think 'frustrating' is the best word. Not being able to get a yard sometimes can be a little demoralizing almost. We've got to come up with a yard somehow. It's tough because most of the time you know what's happening on third-and-one; it's going to be just a dogpile. It's not a secret. We want to do our best to get on their line of scrimmage, and that's what it is, just getting on their side of the line, one yard."

Prime-Time Proof – The Buccaneers opened the 2022 season in encouraging fashion, overwhelming the Cowboys (now 5-2) in Dallas on the first Sunday Night Football game of the year. At the time, that continued a long run of success in prime-time games dating back to the 2020 playoffs. However, when they returned to the Sunday evening stage three weeks later against the Kansas City Chiefs the results were different, with the visiting Chiefs taking home a 41-31 win. Since that game, the Bucs have won a narrow decision against Atlanta and suffered unexpected defeats on the road at Pittsburgh and Carolina. Now the national spotlight returns as the Buccaneers play for a Prime Video audience for the first time. It's safe to say that public perception of Tampa Bay's strength as a Super Bowl contender has been eroded in recent weeks, but the Thursday night stage is a good opportunity for the team to begin changing that narrative. A strong showing against a dangerous Baltimore team in front of a nationwide audience could help the Bucs re-emerge as a team to be concerned about in the NFC playoff race.

KEY MATCHUPS

1. Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin vs. Ravens CB Damarion Williams

As noted, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are still searching for the things that work the best in their 2022 offense, but there's no doubt that Chris Godwin is at the center of the equation. The Tampa Bay offense obviously struggled in Week Seven against the Panthers but Brady targeted Godwin 13 times, resulting in seven receptions for 43 yards. The Buccaneers like to get the ball into Godwin's hands quickly out of the slot and let him weave his way through the defense. As the sixth-year receiver continues to work his way back to full strength after last December's ACL tear, he will likely continue to up his production. Before his injury in 2021, Godwin had 98 catches for 1,103 yards and was second in the NFL in receptions per game. He lines up in the slot on nearly two-thirds of his snaps, and last season he led the NFL in catches and yards gained on screens. His presence in the slot makes him a concern for Ravens cornerback Damarion Williams, who has earned the third spot in sub packages alongside stars Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey in his rookie year. Baltimore selected Williams in the fourth round out of Houston and have quickly found work for him with Kyle Fuller on injured reserve. Williams (5-10, 182) plays tough for his size and has good lateral quickness, though he could have trouble catching up if Godwin gets the ball and a step on him.

2. Ravens T Ronnie Stanley vs. Buccaneers OLB Shaquil Barrett

Shaquil Barrett had 37.5 sacks over his first three seasons in Tampa and, now in the second year of his first big-time multi-year contract, he is being counted on to lead the team's pass rush. Barrett has surprisingly recorded only two sacks so far this year, both in Week Two at New Orleans, but the Bucs' coaching staff still sees an impact player on game tape. "I look at those guys – are they winning?" said Pass Game Coordinator Larry Foote. "He's definitely winning, but if the ball is gone, the ball is gone. You've got to keep hunting. Those numbers … at the end of the year [they will] be right where you need them. Sacks are up and down – [if] the quarterback throws the ball, there's nothing you can do. He's just got to keep playing hard and putting pressure on the quarterback. He's getting chipped, also. Offensive coordinators can take good pass rushers out [of the game] and it's a challenge to everybody else to step up their game." Barrett rushes slightly more often from the left end of the Bucs' line, where he would encounter right tackle Moses Morgan, but he spends enough time on the opposite edge to get in his battles with left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who was a first-team Associated Press All-Pro in 2019, his last full season. Stanley has since dealt with ankle injuries that limited him to seven total games over the 2020-21 campaigns and three of seven outings so far this year. The Notre Dame product has fought his way through the injury to play in 86% of the offensive snaps the last two weeks. The 6-6, 315-pound Stanley went sixth overall in the 2016 draft because he was a ready-made pass blocker with excellent foot quickness and long arms to keep blockers off his body.

3. Buccaneers G Nick Leverett vs. Ravens DE Calais Campbell

Luke Goedeke didn't practice on Monday, making it seem likely that Nick Leverett will make his first NFL start on Thursday night against the Ravens. Formerly an undrafted free agent out of Rice in 2020, Leverett spent a year on the practice squad and then earned a spot on the 53-man roster with an outstanding showing in training camp in the summer of 2021. He was in the battle to start the season at left guard this year and Head Coach Todd Bowles said the competition was neck-and-neck before it eventually went to Goedeke. Leverett is a battler who helped the Buccaneers win a big game in Indianapolis last year after injuries to Ali Marpet and Aaron Stinnie. Leverett had to contend with DeForest Buckner in that game – a tall order – and if he gets the start Thursday he will likely see a lot of Calais Campbell. Campbell is literally a tall order, too; at 6-8 and 300 pounds he has uncommon height for an interior lineman. He plays defensive end in the Ravens' 3-4 front and, according to his pre-snap location heat map on NFL Next Gen Stats has put in work at an almost an equal basis all along the defensive front, from outside the right tackle to outside the left tackle. There's little doubt that the Ravens would try to test an inexperienced player like Leverett with one of their most dangerous defenders. Even at the age of 36, Campbell remains a very disruptive player. His career total over 15 NFL seasons include 96.5 sacks, 229 QB hits and 56 passes defensed, including 3.0 sacks so far this season.

4. Ravens WR Rashod Bateman vs. Buccaneers CB Jamel Dean

When the Ravens traded Marquise Brown to the Cardinals on the opening night of the 2022 draft, it pushed Rashod Bateman, the 27th-overall pick in 2021, to the top of their receiver depth chart. While superstar tight end Mark Andrews is actually Lamar Jackson's top target in the passing game, Bateman has the potential to be a very productive complementary weapon. The 6-0, 190-pound pass-catcher is good off the press and can build up deceptive speed, a la Mike Evans, and his big-play potential is evidenced by his average of 19.0 yards per catch this season. Bateman missed the Ravens' fifth and sixth games with a foot injury but returned to play 56% of the snaps in last Sunday's win over Cleveland, catching four passes for 42 yards. With Andrews dealing with a knee injury and surprisingly being held without a catch last Sunday, Bateman could be the go-to man for Jackson on Sunday. He has lined up wide to the left three times as many as he has to the right, which would put him in Jamel Dean's territory for much of the evening. While the Buccaneers have navigated through a series of injuries to their defensive backs, Dean has been the rock in the secondary. He has been targeted 28 times as the nearest defender and has allowed 15 completions (-6.7% completion rate over expected) for just 91 yards, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Dean has the size to match up with Bateman and is arguably the fastest player on the Buccaneers' roster. His expected points added (EPA) of -3.9 is the best for any Buccaneer defender this season.

INJURY REPORT

Key:

DNP: Did not participate in practice

LP: Limited participation in practice

FP: Full participation in practice

NL: Not listed

Buccaneers:

· QB Tom Brady (rest) – MON: NL; TUES: NL; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Not listed.

· TE Cameron Brate (neck) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· ILB K.J. Britt (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: Placed on injured reserve.

· CB Carlton Davis (hip) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· WR Mike Evans (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: LP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Not listed.

· WR Russell Gage (hamstring) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· G Luke Goedeke (foot) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· DL Akiem Hicks (foot) – MON: LP; TUES: LP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Questionable.

· WR Julio Jones (knee) – MON: DNP; TUES: LP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Questionable.

· TE Ko Kieft (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: LP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Not listed.

· G Shaq Mason (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: LP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Not listed.

· CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· S Antoine Winfield Jr. (concussion) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

Ravens:

· TE Mark Andrews (knee) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.

· WR Rashod Bateman (foot) – MON: NL; TUES: DNP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

· LB Josh Bynes (quad) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Questionable.

· DE Calais Campbell (illness) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· G Ben Cleveland (foot) – MON: FP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· RB Gus Edwards (knee) – MON: LP; TUES: LP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Questionable.

· CB Marlon Humphrey (hamstring) – MON: DNP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

· CB Marcus Peters (quad) – MON: DNP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

· T Ronnie Stanley (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

· CB Brandon Stephens (abdomen) – MON: LP; TUES: LP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

WEATHER FORECAST

Evening weather: Mostly clear sky, low of 64, 6% chance of rain, 77% humidity, winds out of the NNW at 3 mph.

GAME REFEREE

Head referee: Carl Cheffers (23rd season, 15th as referee)

BETTING LINE

· Favorite: Ravens (-1.5)

· Over/Under: 45.0

INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS

Buccaneers-

Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 56

Touchdowns: RB Leonard Fournette, 4

Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 1,942

Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 92.8

Rushing Yards: RB Leonard Fournette, 362

Receptions: RB Leonard Fournette, 34

Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 454

Interceptions: CB Jamel Dean, 2

Sacks: DL Vita Vea, 3.5

Tackles: ILB Lavonte David, 54

Ravens-

Points Scored: K Justin Tucker, 61

Touchdowns: TE Mark Andrews, 5

Passing Yards: QB Lamar Jackson, 1,397

Passer Rating: QB Lamar Jackson, 92.1

Rushing Yards: QB Lamar Jackson, 510

Receptions: TE Mark Andrews, 39

Receiving Yards: TE Mark Andrews, 455

Interceptions: S Marcus Williams, 3

Sacks: OLB Justin Houston, 4.0

Tackles: ILB Patrick Queen, 49

TEAM STAT RANKINGS

Buccaneers-

Scoring Offense: 28th (17.7 ppg)

Total Offense: 22nd (330.6 ypg)

Passing Offense: 6th (266.1 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 32nd (64.4 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: 16th (20.0)

Third-Down Pct.: 26th (35.1%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 2nd (3.38%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: t-27th (47.4%)

Scoring Defense: 5th (17.5 ppg)

Total Defense: 7th (308.3 ypg)

Passing Defense: 6th (190.0 ypg)

Rushing Defense: t-16th (118.3 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 2nd (17.0)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: t-23rd (41.6%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 3rd (9.52%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 31st (76.5%)

Turnover Margin: t-6th (+3)

Ravens-

Scoring Offense: 5th (25.9 ppg)

Total Offense: 14th (346.0 ypg)

Passing Offense: 26th (189.7 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 5th (156.3 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-17th (19.9)

Third-Down Pct.: 9th (42.2%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 20th (7.11%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 12th (58.3%)

Scoring Defense: 21st (23.0 ppg)

Total Defense: 23rd (366.4 ypg)

Passing Defense: 26th (261.3 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 10th (105.1 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 27th (21.6)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 9th (35.0%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 11th (7.52%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 26th (65.4%)

Turnover Margin: t-3rd (+5)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

· Quarterback Tom Brady has 7,461 career regular season touchdowns. With 39 more he would become the first player in NFL history to reach the 7,500-completion mark.

· WR Mike Evans scored two touchdowns against the Chiefs in Week Four to increase his career points scored total to 482, in the process passing Connor Barth (477) for third place on the Bucs' all-time list Evans needs three more touchdowns to join former kickers Martin Gramatica (592) and Michael Husted (502) as the only players in team history to reach the 500-point mark.

· Wide receiver Chris Godwin passed Kevin House for third place on the Bucs' career receiving yardage chart by pushing his total to 4,936. Now he needs only 83 more to climb up one more rung on the ladder and replace Mark Carrier (5,018) in second place. Mike Evans has built a healthy lead on the rest of the pack, with 9,755 yards.

· RB Leonard Fournette snared his third touchdown reception of the season in Pittsburgh in Week Six. He needs just one more to equal the Buccaneers' record for scoring catches in a season by a running back. Charles Sims set the mark at four in 2015.

NOTABLY QUOTABLE

· Head Coach Todd Bowles on what sort of challenge Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson presents: "He brings a huge challenge for us because he's probably the best runner, not just quarterback runner but one of the best runners in the league. Very smart, can throw the ball down the field, strong arm, very elusive. Even if you blitz him you're not going to catch him, so we've got to have some different ways of trying to play him. A lot of people have tried, a lot of people have failed. He's a winner, he comes out to compete every week and plays every week, plays smart. I like watching him play when we're not playing him, but we've got to come out and play our game and just try to make sure he doesn't kill us out of the pocket. We can't stop him, we've got to slow him down enough to where we can make some plays."

· Center Robert Hainsey on how the offensive line can improve before Thursday's game: "We all can improve on our technique and fundamentals and work together to execute the best way possible. [We need to] protect our quarterback and dominate the line of scrimmage in the run game – give our running backs good holes to run through. That goes a long way."

· Inside linebacker Devin White on the Bucs' second-half defensive breakdowns in recent games: "I just think we have mental lapses at one spot – there's always one spot that creates the opportunity for a big play. We've just got to stay sound for four quarters because we come out on fire, we do a good job, everybody takes care of what they can take care of. Lately, it breaks down and it's one person each time – a different person – so we've just got to clean it up and be more consistent.

· Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote on if some of the players have underestimated recent opponents: "No, not at all. Guys are just being out-executed. There [are] little details – guys have definitely got to play better [and] coaches have got to coach better. Adversity is here – no matter what, we've got to respond to it. I keep mentioning the young guys because they keep learning on the job, but you can lose – you've got to be into it, you've got to win the day every day. It's a game of inches – that's why it's the number one sport in the world, because of how competitive it is."

· Bowles on the team's scoring total dropping three weeks in a row: "[We're] shooting ourselves in the foot. Our objective is to score more points than the other team. When we don't do that and we lose ballgames, it's critical. It's critical from that standpoint. We are trying to get this thing going. We will get this thing going – I believe that, and they believe that as well. We own what we have; we built it. Like I said, nobody's coming here to save us. Nobody's feeling sorry for us, neither are we feeling sorry for ourselves. We understand what we have to do going forward and we're down in the pit and we're going to start digging."

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