Tampa Bay played the mighty New Orleans Saints to a tie for one half last week before the Buccaneers offense was shut down in a 28-14 loss.
Baltimore played the powerful Kansas City Chiefs offense even tougher for most of the game, but couldn’t escape with a victory.
That might have to be the last game the Ravens lose if they are going to make the playoffs this season. Right now, they own the tiebreaker among a group of four 7-6 teams vying for the final wild-card spot.
With two more teams lurking a game behind, there is little room for another loss.
We can’t always tell what will happen, but we know whatever happens to the Ravens will happen with Lamar Jackson behind center. John Harbaugh made the difficult, but probably correct decision to keep Joe Flacco on the sidelines as Jackson’s backup when he is healthy enough to play.
Jackson has added new life to the Ravens’ team. Flacco’s more accurate arm and experience don’t offer as much a chance at winning games as Jackson’s speed and deception. It is possible Flacco has started his last game for Baltimore.
The Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston is fighting for a job next season. He knows the Buccaneers might decide to move on from their former first-round pick and winning some games will help his prospects as a free agent.
Other than the second half of last week, Winston has moved the ball consistently and without turnovers since spelling Ryan Fitzpatrick for the second time this season.
Injuries and notes
Flacco got some practice this week but is listed as questionable, as is left guard Alex Lewis. Linebacker Tim Lewis and safety Tony Jefferson are nursing ankle injuries that make them questionable for Sunday, too.
Tampa’s secondary is banged up with safeties Justin Evans (toe) and Isaiah Johnson (concussion) joining cornerback Carlton Davis (knee) on the injury lists as questionable.
Also listed as questionable, and leaning toward doubtful, is wide receiver DeSean Jackson (thumb).
Winston has expressed a desire to win out the season in hopes of saving Dirk Koetter’s job. It might save Winston’s position on the team, but it is unclear if Koetter can expect to be back even in that scenario. Ironically, winning out with Winston would only make Koetter’s decision to roll with Fitzpatrick for so many games more damning.
John Harbaugh was also rumored to be on his way out along with Flacco as new blood would come in to start the Lamar Jackson Era. But if Harbaugh gets the Ravens deep into the playoffs with Jackson at the helm, that might change the plan. Harbaugh made a lot of adjustments to let Jackson use his speed and minimize his throwing, and Baltimore is flirting with the playoffs because of it.
How to watch the Ravens-Buccaneers game
Fox Sports will offer this game to network affiliates in much of the greater Baltimore and Cleveland areas, as well as Tampa Bay. That means subscribers can watch the live stream NFL action on Sling TV.
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Read More: NFL Week 16 Game Preview: Ravens at Chargers
Who will win the Ravens-Buccaneers game?
Baltimore’s defense has had some bad games, but it is still among the leaders in most categories thanks to some spectacular efforts at home. Tampa Bay will test them with their assortment of receiving options, but in the end, the team with something to play for will take care of business in front of their home fans.