BUCS : GOAL LINE STAND : BALTIMORE
By Leo Haggerty

The Buccaneers travel north to take on the Ravens this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 1 PM weather permitting as always.

Both teams are coming off crucial losses that will have a definite effect on any post-season playoff aspiration. More so for Baltimore as opposed to Tampa Bay. The Black Birds have a decent shot and there’s still a mathematical possibility for the Pewter Pirates but a lot of cards have to fall right for this to occur.

Baltimore is 7-6 on the campaign and that’s good enough for the second spot in the American Football Conference North division. That puts the Raven just one game behind division-leading Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay has a 5-8 log. That puts the Buccaneers in third place in the National Football Conference South division. The Pewter Pirates have no chance of overtaking division-leading New Orleans who are tied with the Rams for the best record in the NFC at 11-2. The Pewter Pirates only playoff hope is a Wild Card spot.

Below are my four points of emphasis that the Bucs need to accomplish if they’re going to steal one from the Ravens. They are short but concise. Enjoy.

1ST DOWN

NO TURNOVERS

I truly believe this is going to be a game decided by three points or less. For that reason, Tampa Bay must protect the football and not give the Ravens any extra possessions.

2ND DOWN

THE PUNT IS AN OFFENSIVE PLAY

Field position against Baltimore will be imperative. Don’t be afraid to pass up a fourth-and-short opportunity to pin the Ravens deep. Remember, Lamar Jackson is a rookie. Make him and the Black Birds go 80 yards or more to get points

3RD DOWN

DON’T ABANDON THE RUN

Hey, it’s December in the Northeast. It’s going to be cold, and possibly wet, for the contest. This calls for an overland strategy first and the pass as a secondary option especially if the Bucs get the lead. Ground and pound eats clock as well.

4TH DOWN

CONTAIN #8

Jackson is a run-first QB right now. He wants to beat you more with his legs than his arm. Keep the former Louisville star in the pocket and do not let him escape to run or extend the play. He’s most effective on the move and in scramble situations. A disciplined pass rush is vital to the Bucs success.

OK, here’s my call. With the rash of in juries to the Buccaneers in the secondary, playing a run-oriented opponent is a plus. They have downhill linebackers who are better in the box stuffing the run than in coverage. Tampa Bay, 17-13, with a late pick to seal the deal caused by a ferocious pass rush.