Schwartz’s Trench Report: What I’m Betting in Buccaneers-Ravens

Schwartz’s Trench Report: What I’m Betting in Buccaneers-Ravens article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Lavonte David, Marshal Yanda

  • Former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz offers his best Week 15 NFL bet based on the battles up front.
  • He has a team total in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

After correctly forecasting the Ravens to cover in last week’s matchup against the Chiefs, it’s back to the well for another bet featuring Baltimore.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens

  • Spread: Ravens -7.5
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX

The Ravens have decided to ride with Lamar Jackson as their starter for the time being. Joe Flacco is healthy and will be a backup for the first time in his career.

I’ve said this before — including in last week’s trench report — but the Ravens offense isn’t a long term success story. The Ravens have transitioned to a run-first offense, something you’d see on college football Saturdays. They use the pistol and have a variety of zone reads, quarterback runs and old school power running schemes.

Their goal is moving the chains without having to rely on Jackson’s arm. And guess why it’s working?

Let’s start with the offensive line.

The Ravens have some young pieces, like rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. They replaced center Ryan Jensen, who left for Tampa Bay in free agency, with third-year pro and undrafted free-agent Matt Skura while left tackle Ronnie Staley, a 2016 first-round pick, has come into his own. Then of course there’s the future Hall of Famer Marshall Yanda at right guard — a monster and one of my favorite lineman to watch.

Credit the Ravens’ coaching staff and linemen, especially after having to switch offensives. But as great as the offensive line has been, the Ravens have also played some rough defenses.

The Ravens have played the Bengals, Raiders, Falcons and Chiefs over Jackson’s first four career starts. These four teams are respectively ranked 28th, 27th, 31st and 32nd in Football Outsiders’ rush DVOA. And the Ravens took advantage of this, rushing for more than 200 yards against the first three and just six yards short of that mark against the Chiefs in Week 14.

Well enter the Buccaneers, whose defense is 30th in rush DVOA and is allowing 4.8 yards per carry. They’re also 30th in allowing runs between five and 10 yards.

The Ravens excel in explosive rushing in this new offense, which means they’ll move the ball at will against the Bucs. To make matters worse for the Bucs is that they allow a whopping 29.5 points per game, partly because their rushing defense is that poor.

It’s for all these reasons that I’m taking the over on Baltimore’s team total.

THE PICK: Ravens Over 27 Points

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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