Expert Cappers Picks
National Football League
Preview
Tampa Bay at Baltimore
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 16, 2018
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore Ravens are 3-1 with Lamar Jackson as the starting quarterback, with the lone loss coming by a field goal at the AFC-leading Kansas City Chiefs last week. Those four games proved to be enough to elevate Jackson over former starter Joe Flacco, who will serve as the backup on Sunday when he returns from a hip injury as the Ravens host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Ravens are just a half-game behind the stumbling Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North, and coach John Harbaugh felt sticking with Jackson gave the team its best chance to make the playoffs. "Listen, it's out of my hands," Flacco told reporters. "I got hurt; they drafted Lamar in the first round. At some point, something was going to happen between the two of us. Who knows what that was going to be. This is just what it is at this point. I've obviously had five weeks to think about it and prepare myself for this situation and the possibility of it. ... I'm going to do my best to handle it the right way." The Buccaneers went through a quarterback quandary already this season and settled on former No. 1 pick Jameis Winston over backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, though Winston is not coming off one of his better performances. Winston and Tampa Bay fell apart in the second half last week at home against New Orleans and ended up with a 28-14 loss after managing a total of 81 yards on offense after the break.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Ravens -7.5. O/U: 46.5

ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (5-8): Tampa Bay is 30th in the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of 29.5 points, and is already concerned about the prospect of facing Jackson. "Any time when you have a running quarterback, you're looking at a more physical game," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul told reporters. "Just to play that is difficult. I'm not going to lie, their option stuff is difficult and anybody in the NFL, D-end-wise, if they say it’s not that’s a lie. That stuff play(s) with your eyes but you've got to be disciplined with it and I think I do a pretty good job and our coaches do a pretty good job game-planning against it. I think we’re going to go out and do it." That defense seemed to be turning around in back-to-back wins and through the first half against New Orleans before surrendering 25 points in the second half.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (7-6): Jackson owns three touchdown passes and three interceptions in four games as the starter but gives the team a different dynamic with his legs and rushed for a pair of TDs while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. "I pretty much didn't really have a reaction to (being named starter) when (Harbaugh) was telling me," Jackson told reporters. "All it made me do is -- I know I have to focus on everything a lot more, just bettering myself and trying to join with everyone around me even more. That's about it." Jackson and the offense are supported by a defense that leads the NFL in points against (18.5) while sitting second in yards (293.9).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Buccaneers Ss Isaiah Johnson (concussion) and Justin Evans (toe) are both questionable for Sunday.

2. Ravens S Tony Jefferson (ankle) sat out the last two games but could return this week.

3. The teams are meeting for the first time since Oct. 12, 2014, when Flacco threw for 306 yards and five TDs in Baltimore's 48-17 win at Tampa Bay.

PREDICTION: Ravens 28, Buccaneers 24
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
Tampa Bay 5-8 L1 25.5 29.5 4-3 1-5 4-6 0-0 - - 4-6
Baltimore 7-6 L1 24.7 18.5 4-2 3-4 3-3 0-0 - - 6-4
Last Meeting
Tampa Bay Baltimore
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/12/14 BAL 48 TB 17 364 87 277 475 169 306
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Tampa Bay M. Glennon 54.5 314 2 1
Baltimore J. Flacco 75.0 306 5 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay D. Martin 11 45 4.1 0
Baltimore J. Forsett 14 111 7.9 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay L. Murphy 7 72 10.3 1
Baltimore S. Smith Sr. 5 110 22.0 1
Touchdowns Player TD
Tampa Bay M. Evans 1
Baltimore T. Smith 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Tampa Bay R. Fitzpatrick 66.7 2366 17 12
Baltimore J. Flacco 61.2 2465 12 6
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay P. Barber 183 677 3.7 4
Baltimore L. Jackson 96 471 4.9 3
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay M. Evans 70 1207 17.2 5
Baltimore J. Brown 38 672 17.7 5
Touchdowns Player TD
Tampa Bay C. Brate 6
Baltimore A. Collins 8