Sunday’s game marks the second matchup against an AFC North team, the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens, coming off of a loss to the hated Indianapolis Colts, will surely not take this game sitting down. With a dangerous wide receiver in Steve Smith (#89) and an aggressive defensive line, this opponent isn’t going to make the Buccaneers job easy.
Buccaneers Offense against Ravens Defense
The Ravens defense is as infamous as the Buccaneers defense that won the Super Bowl. Since LB Ray Lewis (#52) has retired it has not gotten near as much mention in the media. However, let there be no mistake: this defense could easily squash any hope we have offensively in this game. This defensive line is aggressive. Numbers are misleading: the Ravens are ranked 26th in the league for sacks. To give you some perspective, Tampa’s defense is ranked 20th. However, the Ravens ability to pressure the quarterback is notable. With our offensive line lacking, our offense could be in trouble.
The Ravens run defense is ranked 8th in the league this year, with an average of 91.4 yards allowed per game. This could mean trouble for our run defense, which has been stunted this year to say the least.
The Ravens passing defense is a different story. Short passes have been successful against them this season. Their tackling philosophy appears to be this: let receivers catch the ball, but allow no yards after the catch. Their tackling is good, particularly from behind, but their coverage is passive. Lucky for us, our offensive line’s pass blocking is better than its run blocking so we may be able to get yardage this way.
Buccaneers Defense against Ravens Offense
Offseason news that WR Steve Smith (#89) had been traded from the Carolina Panthers was a joyous occasion for Buccaneers fan across the globe. And yet it appears we cannot get away from him. Since Smith has joined the Ravens, mention of 2012 standouts WR Jacoby Jones (#12) and WR Torrey Smith (#82) has been met with responses of “Jacoby who?” or “Torrey who?”. The Buccaneers defense should not be concerned about any other receiver not named Steve Smith. We expect to see Smith smack talking all 60 minutes today, and we are not looking forward to it.
The Ravens run game has not lost any oomph this year despite releasing RB Ray Rice (#27). Ravens have bemoaned for several years Rice‘s dwindling production, so his absence was hardly noticed, particularly with the effectiveness of its new running back by committee. RBs Justin Forsett (#29) and Bernard Pierce (#30) are both built like Rice, extremely maneuverable but also have the ability to run through tacklers. We expect LB Lavonte David (#54) with some hard hits today, because these boys aren’t going down otherwise.
Another headache for the Buccaneers offense will be TE Owen Daniels (#81). The Ravens started off the season with TE duo Daniels and Dennis Pitta (#88), but lost Pitta in week 3 to a dislocated hip. He was subsequently sent to IR. His absence has not been felt. The Buccaneers defense had problems in Week 1 with TE Greg Olsen (#88), then again in Week 3 with TE Levine Toilolo (#80), and again with TE Heath Miller (#83) in Week 4, and also Week 5 with TE Jimmy Graham (#80) (for the two minutes he was in anyway). So we think it’s safe to say Daniels is probably going to have a good day today.
The good news is Ravens QB Joe Flacco (#5) is a lot like former Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman (#5) in that he is prone to mistakes. But also like Freeman, he throws an incredible deep ball. CB Johnthan Banks (#27) is probably going to get picked on today, and it will probably be by Steve Smith. Unlike Freeman, Flacco is not very inept at scrambling so we have that going for us.
Spotlight: C Jeremy Zuttah (#53) Returns to Tampa
So, remember that Buccaneers offensive line that was old and washed up and overpaid? Welp, washed up C Jeremy Zuttah (#53) will be squaring off against that shiny new defensive line Tampa paid for with the savings reaped from his trade. Buccaneers fans watching the Ravens square off against division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football Week 2 heard Zuttah’s name all night long that game, with announcers praising the steal the Ravens came away with. On a personal note, I have a family full of Ravens fans who still text me “Thank yous” nearly every week. While I have to sit and watch C Evan Dietrich-Smith (#62) every week.
We were looking forward to seeing DT Gerald McCoy (#93) go up against RG Davin Joseph (#69) in our Week 2 matchup against the Rams. Coincidentally, McCoy got hurt that game and left early. We were disappointed to say the least. Seeing as how McCoy and Zuttah went up against each other many times at practice here in Tampa, it will be a good matchup today. These guys know each other and their play styles, so it will be a good battle to watch. Other members of our D-line that go up against him have their work cut out for them.
- Our passing game may be the ticket to this game as the Ravens run defense is top-10 and our run game has been largely unsuccessful this season
- Steve Smith is still a thorn in our side
- TE Owen Daniels will probably have a big day
- Zuttah trade will probably come back to haunt us