Bucs Rule Banged-Up Bowl in NFL’s TNF

This week’s Thursday night NFL matchup will feature a couple of teams who entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations but have been slowed down due to injury. We will be treated to quite a quarterback matchup as quarterback Lamar Jackson leads his 4-3 Baltimore Ravens into Florida to take on QB Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here is what to look for in the first prime time matchup of NFL Week 8.

Bigger injury impact

The Ravens will head into this game with a barrage of players already on the injured reserve list including starters running back JK Dobbins, cornerback Kyle Fuller, and safety Marcus Williams. On top of those players, they’ve got even more impact players listed as questionable heading into Thursday night.

On that list are RB Gus Edwards, tight end Mark Andrews, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, defensive tackle Calais Campbell and CBs Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. This is a brutal collection of players and Jackson needs to prepare to be severely shorthanded again. If this entire group does indeed miss the game, it’s hard to see the Ravens coming out with a victory, especially on the road.

As for the Bucs, the injury report isn’t much cleaner. While they don’t have as many injured reserve players as the Ravens, they do have just as many starters questionable for Thursday’s game. These players include wide receivers Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage, TE Cameron Brate, guard Shaq Mason, DT Akiem Hicks, CBs Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis III, and safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Similar to the Ravens, the Bucs will need at least a few of these players active for Thursday’s game in order to leave with a win. Brady, like Jackson, has a knack for getting the most out of even the most shorthanded teams and this game could be a shining example of that on both sides. Neither team really has an advantage in this injury category heading into their prime-time matchup.

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Ravens run into strong Bucs run defense

The Ravens rank fifth in the NFL this season with 156.3 rushing yards per game. Ever since the team deployed Jackson as its starting QB they have committed to being one of the most run-dominant teams in the NFL.

They have done exactly that ever since and this year is no different. The run game is, however, without Dobbins and possibly backup Edwards as well.

They will face a league-average Tampa run defense that allows 118.3 yards per game on the ground. Considering the Baltimore injuries and the game being in Tampa, I expect the Bucs to hold a slight edge here and be able to slow down Lamar and the Ravens run game just enough to make a difference in this one.

Can Buccaneers pass by Ravens secondary?

This is a similar story to the Ravens and their run game. Ever since signing Brady a few years ago this Bucs team has consistently had one of the most dominant passing attacks in the NFL.

This year they rank sixth in the NFL with 266.1 yards per game in the air. But there are also some health concerns for the Bucs receiving corps, as the aforementioned Evans, Jones, Gage and Brate are all questionable.

That being said the Bucs will be running into a Ravens secondary that is seventh-worst in the NFL, allowing 261.3 passing yards a game, and could be without three starters in Williams, Peters and Humphrey. The Bucs have depth at the receiver and tight end spots and Brady should be able to lead even a skeleton crew to a big game in this one.

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Final Predictions 

Not only are the Bucs at home, but they also have underperformed this season and are due for a win. The Ravens may also have no choice but to put their practice squad players on the field due to so many injuries. Tampa Bay matches up nicely in this game and for these reasons should be able to get back to .500 at 4-4 with a win Thursday night.

Prediction: Bucs +1.5 (-110 at Bet365)

Unders have been hitting left and right this season and especially in prime-time games. These two teams will both be beaten up and struggling to put their best feet forward. Points should be at a premium, even for these two normally high-scoring offenses. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and the Under ain’t broke just yet this season.

Prediction: Under 45 (-113 at BetRivers)

Watch: Thursday 8:15 p.m. ET Amazon Prime

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