After beating the Philadelphia Eagles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers move on to the divisional round to face the Los Angeles Rams. Both teams come into this game following blowouts in their respective wildcard games. The Rams pose threats all over the place, having stars in nearly every position group. Besides the stars, they have key depth pieces and underrated players everywhere.
For a team that went all in, trading nearly every valuable asset they have for win now pieces, a 12-5 record seems like a gross under achievement. They have one of the most talented rosters in football, but always seem to have inconsistencies and hiccups in every game. The Rams are currently learning what the ultimate price for a Super Bowl is and it could ultimately end in failure.
Battle of the Trenches
There is no secret the power that the Rams hold on the defensive line with stars like Aaron Donald and Von Miller, but everyone in the rotation is superb at disrupting a game. Donald is one of if not the best player in all of football and is the heartbeat on this defensive line. Donald is double-teamed the most and still produces some of the highest pressure numbers every single year.
Miller is another problem that the Bucs will face. He is an All-Pro caliber pass rusher who the Rams traded for midway through the year. Even during a year he was traded, Miller still posted 65 pressure along with 10 sacks. On the other side of Miller is Leonard Floyd, who is truly one of the most underrated pass rushers in the league. Floyd hit 65 pressures and was a vital part of this defensive line. The last guy that has my attention is Greg Gaines, I know you’re probably like “who?” but Gaines is one of the best stories in the league this year. Gaines was a fourth round pick a couple of years back and has blossomed into a very high level role player. In his breakout year, he has generated 40 pressure and even notched a sack on Aaron Rodgers. With the Bucs offensive line being questionable, it could be a long day for Tom Brady.
Offense Offense Offense
There is no doubt about it. If you aren’t the Saints you will need points to beat Brady. The Rams could do that. Their play caller Sean McVay started his career as an offensive assistant in Tampa in 2008. McVay has blossomed into one of the best head coaches in the league and is one of the greatest offensive minds ever. In the last three games Todd Bowles went against McVay his defense has let up an average of 418 yards and 34 points a game. Their offense is led by Mathew Stafford, who the Rams traded two first-round picks for the last offseason. Stafford has been very inconsistent all season long and hasn’t showed off the “Stafford effect” aside from last week.
Cam Akers is this teams’ leading back and he looked explosive last Monday night. Akers just came back from fully torn achilles that happened in training camp. It’s going to be tough for Akers to generate yards against this Bucs defensive front.
Cooper Kupp and the Rams receiving weapons have been very productive this season. Kupp is a short to intermediate route specialist, but you can’t give him that open space. Of his 42 targets on third-down, 74% were completed, and 62% of those targets turned into a first down or better. This receiving core has also added Odell Beckham Jr. who is a threat wherever they line him up.
With all of their future assets leveraged into winning a Super Bowl, the pressure is on the Rams entire organization. If the Rams lose this game, it could potentially close their once-promising Super Bowl window. For the Bucs, it feels like they’re playing with house money after winning the Super Bowl. Winning the Lombardi is the end goal for any season. I predict the Rams take this 24-13, and as a lifelong Bucs fan that pains me to say and I hope I’m wrong, but the Bucs have been riddled with injuries everywhere and especially at key positions