Possible Clincher on Sunday as Buccaneers meet Rams
It’s probably an overstatement to say that the Bucs look poised for back-to-back titles. But Tampa Bay fans certainly believe that Brady and the Bucs are up to the task.
But the Rams aren’t taking their chances lightly, with the Super Bowl window at stake. With investments in top talents and its future at stake, LA may bring its A-game this weekend.
Get your remote and Roomba TV ready because it’s going to be a sizzling Sunday!
So, which side gets to walk away as victor? Let’s look at what each side has going for them as they approach the Sunday showdown.
Rams’ Supremacy in September
The Los Angeles Rams dominated a clearly one-sided clash back in September when the Bucs simply couldn’t deliver. Plus, it was the first actual loss for the Bucs in the 2021 season.
Arians’ side couldn’t run the ball if you consider the first half alone. By the second half of the game, it looked like they’d given up the running game. They managed maybe one sack, and that too, so late in the game that it barely made a difference.
Matthew Stafford had a field day with Tampa Bay’s defensive back. It didn’t take much effort for him to chalk up over 340 yards in the game. If you add the four touchdown passes by the quarterback, the Bucs’ secondary looked pitiful.
Yes, the stats reveal that Brady threw over 430 odd yards without any interceptions. But the final score still read 34 – 24 in favor of the Rams. That isn’t really a close matchup by most standards!
Some analysts blame it on Tampa Bay’s defense which was riddled with injuries then. Others praise the way the Rams clinched the field goal in the fourth quarter, which sealed the game.
Either way, victory for the Rams was clear and decisive on their last meet with the Bucs.
Brady’s Throws Could Turn the Tides
The Rams had a recent thumping victory over the cardinals. But they were without their main safeties. Quarterback Murray could not really leverage this weakness, and it ended in a Cardinals defeat that read 34 – 11.
But Brady has the experience and thrift to spot these weaknesses. So, if he gets the time to make throws, it’s bad news for Los Angeles.
Remember how the Rams had to bring back Weddle out of retirement just for the Cardinals game? It’s obvious that they were concerned about their safety depth.
Jordan Fuller will be carrying his ankle injury for the rest of the season. Taylor Rapp will have to pass the concussion protocol. But Rapp’s absence on Wednesday’s practice isn’t a good sign for the Rams.
Also, left tackle Whitworth was among those missing during practice, including Buddy Howell, who’s nursing a hamstring injury.
With these possible absences, it’s likely to see Brady pull out some game-turning throws on Sunday.
Bucs may regret Releasing Matt Gay
It’s not impossible for the game to come to a decisive final moment. If we’re talking about the final minutes, the Rams can bring out Matt Gay and his strong legs.
As a Pro Bowl placekicker, Matt Gay has managed to convert 46 out of 50 field goals with the Rams. And five of those kicks came beyond 50 yards. Just recently, he connected a couple of field goals during the Cardinals game. And he has four extra-point attempts to his name in the 34 – 11 victory last Monday.
If he walks out on the Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, the Bucs may regret releasing him so early.
Tampa Bay’s Imposing Defense
The Buccaneers owe last season’s title to the guys in defense as much as to Brady’s presence.
The press may label the matchup as a Brady vs. Stafford showdown. But it’s the Bucs defense that could really spell trouble for the Rams. The Bucs have the likes of Shaquil Barrett, Jordan Whitehead, and Carlton Davis.
Barrett has the ability to carry huge workloads, which will serve as speed breakers in LA’s offense. Whitehead may recreate his 7-tackle havoc for the Panthers back in December. Although facing a back injury last week, Davis was up and active against the Eagles on the wild-card game last Sunday.
So, Stafford has a tough road ahead of him as he’ll have to negotiate with this trio.
Betting odds may show the Buccaneers as a three-point favorite over the Rams. But that’s not the whole story.
The Rams are serious about their intention of a title win this season. And they’ll be looking to hand the Bucs their first playoff defeat or risk a divisional-round exit. The Bucs, on the other hand, enter with a 5-game winning streak and are high on morale.
Come what may, Sunday’s game promises to be a clincher in more ways than one!
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