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Thursday Night Observations
I had the Bucs getting a point and a half at home in my picking pool, and after the first quarter I was patting myself on the back for being so prescient. Here’s the real Tampa defense, and look how Tom Brady is picking them apart!
But from then on Ravens just ground the Buccaneers into dust, despite virtually no Rashod Bateman (foot) and little Mark Andrews (shoulder), either. The best run defense in the league the last two years, the Bucs couldn’t stop any of the Ravens ballcarriers — Gus Edwards (5.9 YPC), Kenyan Drake (8.9), Lamar Jackson (4.8), Devin Duvernay (16.5) and Justice Hill (7.0). The NFL has been a passing league for the last few decades, but seven yards per carry on 33 carries (with virtually no risk) beats throwing it.
As for Brady, he looked flat. He made some nice rainbow deep throws that dropped right in, but he was lucky not to be picked a few times, and his total lack of mobility makes the game harder, especially in 2022 with most defenses are taking away big plays. I don’t see how they fix it, as their skill players (an aging Evans, a not-necessarily 100-percent Chris Godwin, an aging Leonard Fourette) and offensive line are nothing special.
On the bright side, my Panthers +1200 bet is still live. If they beat Atlanta, they’ll be in first place. I also had Evans (11-6-123-0), Justin Tucker (it’s a shame he had that 61-yarder blocked) and was rooting against Lamar Jackson (decent, not great game), Mark Andrews (injured) and Fournette (9-24-1, 3-3-34-0), so it more or less worked out.
Brady was especially awkward rolling to his left. The offensive line needs to keep the pocket intact for him because he’s like an orphan in the big city when he leaves it.
Rachaad White (4-19-0, 3-3-24-0) showed some wiggle and broke a few tackles.
Godwin (11-6-75) made some nice catch-and-runs early, but Evans is the only guy getting targeted down the field.
Julio Jones make a nice catch and run to score a TD late, but he’s late-stage Andre Johnson right now. There was one play where he was not remotely open and clapping for the ball as though he were still Julio Jones.
Lamar Jackson made some nice throws, especially the touchdown to Isiah Likely (7-6-77-1), though the game comes more easily when your team is averaging 7.0 YPC and the defense is on the field all game.
Edwards hurt his hamstring in the fourth quarter, which is why Drake was in late for that 40-yard game-sealing run. Drake was a dynamic player in Miami and Arizona a few years ago before being derailed by injuries, and he looks like that guy again. He’s 28, but doesn’t have much mileage.
I noticed Justin Tucker points to the sky when he makes a kick, as if to credit God. No doubt a kicker of Tucker’s caliber is merely a vessel, and it really is the Lord kicking through him, just as when I go on a sick run ATS, it isn’t me handicapping the games, but the Lord handicapping through me. But (and I used to say this all the time), it’s odd kickers don’t point down toward Hell when they miss. Credit to God when you make it, but grudging credit to Satan for throwing you off your game, putting you out of sync with the Holy Spirit! Give the devil his due.