Buccaneers-Ravens Betting Preview: Can Lamar Jackson Exploit Tampa’s Shaky Defense?

Buccaneers-Ravens Betting Preview: Can Lamar Jackson Exploit Tampa’s Shaky Defense? article feature image

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8).

Betting odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens

  • Spread: Buccaneers -7.5
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Betting market: The Ravens are getting six out of every 10 bets, but they don’t appear to be in the sharp variety. After opening at -8, the line has fallen to -7.5 at the majority of books (you can find updated data here).

Not the most consequential line move, but if there’s a sharp push on the Bucs plus the hook, we’ll see this drop to the key number of -7. The over is getting 50% of bets, but the total has dropped from 47.5 to 46.5. — Mark Gallant

Weather report: There’s a shot at some rain in Baltimore, though initial reports don’t seem too bad. Right now, there’s about a 50/50 shot at light rain to go along with temperatures in the upper 40s and wind speeds just shy of 10 mph.

Probably a game you’re going to want to double-check as it gets closer to kick off. — Gallant

Since 2003, 23 games have been played in Baltimore with at least 10 MPH winds, and the under is 16-7 (69.6%), profiting bettors 8.2 units, the second-most profitable stadium to the under in this span behind just FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. — Evan Abrams

Trends to know: On paper this looks like a mismatch of defenses. Baltimore is allowing 18.5 points per game (fewest) while Tampa Bay is conceding 29.5 points per game (third-most). Not only do the Ravens have a defensive advantage, but they host the Bucs.

However, according to our Bet Labs data, when a great defensive team (20 or fewer points allowed) plays a bad defensive team (28 or more points allowed) at home, the good defense is only 57-74-3 (44%) against the spread since 2003. — John Ewing

As John noted, we have the league’s best defense in the Ravens (18.5 PPG) facing the Bucs, who have the third-worst defense (29.5 PPG). Conditions at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday are projected to be windy and raining.

Did you know? This season, the Buccaneers are 6-0 to the over when playing on the road, going over the total by 17.5 PPG.

Since 2003, only four teams have gone undefeated for a single-season (including the playoffs) either to the over or the under at home or on the road.

The last team to accomplish the feat on the road was the 2016 Cardinals, who went 8-0 to the over. The last team to finish a season undefeated to the under, was the 2003 Bills at home:

2016 Bills Home Over: 8-0
2016 Falcons Home Over: 11-0
2016 Cardinals Road Over: 8-0
2010 Cowboys Home Over: 8-0
2003 Bills Home Under: 8-0 — Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Ravens rush offense vs. Buccaneers rush defense

Dynamic first-round quarterback Lamar Jackson has been named the full-time starter by head coach John Harbaugh.

There’s nothing pretty about how Jackson has played in his four games as the starter. He’s thrown three interceptions and fumbled six times. He’s managed just 150 yards and 0.75 touchdowns passing per game. His 5.9 adjusted yards per attempt is brutal.

But as a runner, he’s dominated opponents with a 67-336-2 stat line, and he has at least 10 rushing attempts in every start.

Over the past month, with Jackson and running backs Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon pounding the ball, the Ravens have averaged an unreal 46.3 rushing attempts for 226.8 yards per game.

The Buccaneers are dead last in the league with a 61.8 Pro Football Focus run-defense grade, and they are without middle linebackers Kwon Alexander (knee, injured reserve) and Jack Cichy (ankle, IR).

The Ravens will likely look to control the clock with their running attack. Against a week defense, they could exceed 50 carries. — Matthew Freedman

Which team is healthier? Ravens

Lamar Jackson will start under center even with Joe Flacco (hip) healthy enough to suit up. The only Ravens players thought to be at risk of missing Sunday’s game are left guard Alex Lewis (shoulder) and safety Tony Jefferson (ankle).

The Bucs aren’t quite as lucky, as safety Justin Evans (toe), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (thumb), cornerback Carlton Davis (knee) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee, hip) are far from 100% and not guaranteed to suit up Sunday.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: The Ravens have asked Jimmy Smith to shadow twice since he returned from suspension in Week 5. The defense’s long-time No. 1 cornerback held up about as well as possible, as Michael Thomas (7-69-1) and Julio Jones (2-18-0) were largely held in check for most of the afternoon.

It would make sense for the rangy Smith (6-foot-2 and 211 pounds) to track Evans (6-foot-5 and 231 pounds) this Sunday. Evans has yet to surpass 100 yards or find the end zone in December, but he’s plenty capable of winning against any cornerback in the league.

He joins A.J. Green and Randy Moss as the only players to ever gain at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first five seasons.

Evans doesn’t belong on your fantasy bench, although it’s fair to question his upside against the Ravens’ fourth-ranked defense in pass DVOA. Neither Chris Godwin nor Adam Humphries is set up particularly well against the likes of Marlon Humphries (PFF’s No. 16 cornerback), Brandon Carr (No. 32) and Tavon Young (No. 59). — Hartitz

Bet to watch: Buccaneers +7.5

The Ravens are 7-6 on the season and sixth in the AFC playoff race entering Week 15. For Baltimore to make the playoffs, it needs to win at home against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

The public often overvalues home field advantage and must-win games for fringe playoff teams (win percentage of 50-67%) in Weeks 15-17.

Betting against teams like the Ravens in this situation has gone 118-88-5 (57%) ATS since 2003 according to our Bet Labs data. — Ewing

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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