The NFL schedule makers handed us a rare gift on Thursday Night Football. Finally, fans have a matchup that is worth a primetime slot. The Ravens (4-3) travel to face the hometown Buccaneers (3-4) in a matchup between two underperforming Super Bowl hopefuls looking to make a statement.
Betting lines favor the hometown Buccaneers by 2.5 points with a projected over/under scoring total of 46.0 between the two teams.
The Buccaneers have lost four of their last five, including back-to-back disappointing defeats to underdogs (Panthers/Steelers). The team is averaging 266.1 passing yards per game (6th) but ranks dead last in rushing yards at 64.4 (32nd). The Buccaneers are putting up a mediocre 17.7 points per contest, tied for 27th in the NFL this season.
The Buccaneers’ defense has kept the team in contention this season, conceding just 328.7 scrimmage yards (7th) and 17.7 (5th) points per game. The defense has fared much better against the pass than the run, allowing just 190.0 passing yards (6th) compared to 118.3 rushing yards (17th) on average.
The visiting Ravens have blown several double-digit leads this season but remain atop the AFC North with a 4-3 record. They are putting up points in bunches against opposing defenses, scoring 25.9 (6th) per contest. The team averages a stunning 156.3 yards on the ground (5th) but has lacked the passing prowess to go along with it, totaling just 189.7 passing yards (26th) per contest. A once-feared Ravens defense has lost its identity as an intimidating unit as they are conceding 385.1 scrimmage yards (24th) with 261.3 passing yards (26th) and 105.1 rushing yards (10th) per contest. The secondary has allowed several shootouts this season, giving up 23.0 points (21st) to opposing offenses.
Neither quarterback should have issues putting up solid numbers as this matchup has shootout potential written all over it. The game will likely come down to who has the ball last.
Scoring Prediction: 31-23
Over/Under: Over 46.0
Now that we have introduced the matchup let’s dive into some high-upside player props for this cross-conference clash.
LAMAR JACKSON OVER 60.5 RUSHING YARDS
Betting Odds: -120
Lamar Jackson has fallen off as a passer lately, averaging 162.0 passing yards over his last four contests with four interceptions to only three touchdowns. Although his throwing numbers may have dwindled, Jackson’s rushing floor remains levels above everyone in the NFL. Jackson has 510 rushing yards this season, ranked fifth overall, and is leading the next closest quarterback (Justin Fields) by an absurd margin of 146 yards. The dual-threat dynamo has yet to post less than 58 rushing yards in a single game this season and will once again be called upon to handle the majority of rushing work as the Ravens shuffle through a makeshift backfield of injured misfits. The Buccaneers are an excellent matchup for scrambling quarterbacks as the defense has allowed 124.4% (!!!) OVER the expected average of rushing production to the position this season. Meaning, If a particular quarterback averages 50 rushing yards per game, the Buccaneers typically allow 124.4% more than the average to their matchup. Jackson averages 72.85 rushing yards per contest and could walk his way to his projected over on even his worst day.
RASHOD BATEMAN OVER 47.5 RECEIVING YARDS + 4.5 RECEPTIONS (PARLAY)
Betting Odds: +120
Second-year receiver Rashod Bateman has yet to ascend in his role as the Ravens’ top wideout but has flashed all the necessary tools to make that leap. He is posting 2.85 yards per route (WR8), 2.14 yards per team pass attempt (WR15), 10.6 yards per target (WR9), and 19.0 yards per reception (WR3). Bateman now gets a plus matchup against a struggling secondary unit that will be without their top three cover defenders as Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Antoine Winfield Jr. were all listed as OUT before the contest. Bateman is averaging 3.0 receptions and 57.0 receiving yards per game and draws a defense that concedes 8.9% over the expected average of production to the position with a fully healthy lineup. Positive game script and soft coverages are on deck for Bateman in Week 8.
LEONARD FOURNETTE OVER 3.5 RECEPTIONS
Betting Odds: -150
Leonard Fournette has had five or more catches in 5/7 games this season. He averages 4.9 receptions and 34.1 receiving yards per game, ranked RB3 in both categories. The Ravens’ defense has been deadly against the run this season but has shown exploitable holes for pass-catching running backs. The Ravens concede 4.2 receptions and 37.1 receiving yards to running backs per contest. If the Buccaneers are forced to play from behind at any point in the contest, expect Fournette to see a lion’s share of the receiving production out of the backfield.
*BONUS TOUCHDOWN PROP*
MARK ANDREWS ANYTIME TOUCHDOWN SCORER
Betting Odds: +220
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