Welcome to another stirring edition of Thursday Night Football. Unlike the past few iterations of Amazon Prime’s marquee event, tonight’s matchup should be at least mildly entertaining.
On the visitor’s sideline, we’ve got the AFC North’s #1 team, the Baltimore Ravens, who have earned the top spot by virtue of their 4-3 overall record, their 2-0 division record, and their 19-17 head-to-head win over the Bengals in Week 5.
Opposite them, we have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are somehow atop the NFC South (tied with the Falcons) despite having lost 4 of their last 5 games.
This is the 6th meeting between these two teams since 2001. The Ravens have prevailed the last 4 times these teams met and are looking to make it 5 straight after tonight.
Fun Fact: The Ravens have had a double-digit lead in each of their first 7 games.
Not-So-Fun Fact: They lost 3 of those 7 games.
Will the Ravens make it eight straight games with a double-digit lead tonight? Answer: Probably.
And will they hold on for the win? Answer: Probably not. At least not according to DraftKings Sportsbook which gives the home-team Bucs (-105) the edge over the visiting Ravens (-115).
Here’s where it gets interesting though ...
The Over/Under is 45.5 points ... which seems quite high given what we know about these 2 teams at this point in the season.
Exhibit A: Offensively, the Ravens average 25.9 points per game (6th-best in the league) while the Bucs average 17.7 (tied for 5th-worst). That adds up to 43.6 points per game between them.
Exhibit B: Defensively, the Ravens are middle of the pack, allowing an average of 23 points per game while the Buccaneers have the 5th-best scoring defense in the league at 17.7 points per game. Those add up to 40.7 between them.
Exhibit C: Baltimore beat Cleveland last week, 23-20. That’s 43 points. Tampa Bay got spanked by Carolina, 21-3. That’s 24 points.
Exhibit D: Between them, only 3 of the 14 games the Ravens and Buccaneers have played this season have exceeded 45-1/2 combined points and the most recent time it happened was Week 4 (Bucs 31, Chiefs 41).
Add in the fact that the Under has prevailed in 5 of the first 7 weeks of Thursday night football and the choice is clear: Take the Over and look like a freaking genius when Lamar Jackson meets the TB12 of old and the Bucs and Ravens end up scoring 70 points between them.
Enjoy the game, everyone!
The Field Gulls staff’s picks are below.