Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs take on the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium, and the matchup will be a real test for the Bucs. They have played very well against the teams they’re supposed to beat, but at this point, Tampa Bay’s only big win against a good team is that shellacking they gave the Packers in Week 6.
And there are a few things working against the good guys. Offensive lineman Ali Marpet (concussion) is listed as doubtful on the final injury report for the Bucs. The Rams are a very good, well-balanced team with a couple of elite players on defense in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey—the former being an absolute game-wrecker that could give the Bucs a long list of problems in all facets of their offense. Brady needs to get rid of the ball quickly, and the Bucs need to establish the run. Running the ball five times is probably not going to cut it. Look for Bucs running back Ronald Jones II to get going early, and for Brady to throw a lot of short, quick passes (maybe some screens to guys like wideouts Scotty Miller, Chris Godwin or even Gronk).
But all of this won’t matter if the Bucs’ defense can’t get stops. Rams quarterback Jared Goff isn’t lighting the world on fire like the Russell Wilsons and Josh Allens of the world, but he’s having a solid season, as he’s no. 11 in the league in passing yards and passes for more than 20 yards despite losing his top receiver Brandin Cooks this offseason to a trade to Houston. Goff also has a solid rushing duo behind him, with Darrell Henderson, a second-year back out of Memphis (486 yards rushing), and rookie back out of Florida State Cam Akers (only 186 yards rushing, but he was a second-round pick and is far more talented than the stats show). The Bucs defense is still third in the NFL for yards allowed per game, but the Rams offense is a little better than the Bears, Panthers, Giants, Broncos… you get the point (the Bucs beat all those teams save for Chicago).
Honestly, this game is a coin flip. Both teams are ultra talented, but I’m giving an edge to the Rams, simply because they have a more established team. The Bucs are still working through some kinks on the offensive side of the ball, and I would expect those flaws to show against an elite Rams defense that’s second in yards per game in the NFL. A low-scoring game will likely be the result of these two solid defenses, and the Rams will win 21-16.
That’s OK though. The Bucs can still turn things around. They still get to play the Falcons twice, and the Saints are without Drew Brees for at least this week and are starting Taysom Hill, so, there’s that.
All is not lost, and all will not be lost, even if they lose this Monday.
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