The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rebounded with a big divisional win over the Carolina Panthers last week and now shift their focus to Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football. The Buccaneers (7-3) are looking to keep pace with the Saints when they take on the Rams (6-3) but they must overcome their primetime woes.
The Rams lead the all-time series against the Buccaneers 14-9. The two teams met in Los Angeles for the first time in 26 years last year in Week 4 and the Bucs walked away with a 55-40 victory over the then-defending NFC Champions. Quarterback Tom Brady is 3-1 all-time against the Rams with 982 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions. The last time both Brady and Rob Gronkowski were competing against the Rams came in Super Bowl LIII with the Patriots. Brady was 21-of-35 for 262 yards and one interception. Gronkowski had six receptions, for 87 yards including the big reception at the goal-line to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown for Brady and the Patriots.
The Bucs Haven’t Been Great In Primetime Games
The Bucs do face challenges when it comes to primetime games… they are 1-2 in their last three. This week Head Coach Bruce Arians took a different approach to get ready for Monday night’s game including changes to the practice schedule to be better prepared for night games.
“We’ve got to try something because we’ve had really, really poor starts in night ballgames,” said Arians. “We’re going to try practicing at that game time on Friday and Saturday night and do some more stuff, actually, Monday morning than we’ve been doing. We’ve got to try something, so luckily we have an indoor facility and we can work at night. We’re going to do that and hopefully get a better result to start a ballgame at night.”
Not only will this game have implications within the NFC South but as the season winds down, Conference seeding and matchups become ever more important. Currently, the Rams are tied for first in the NFC West while the Buccaneers are a half-game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. The Buccaneers hold the top Wild Card spot and have a 4-3 record against NFC teams this season.
Everyone Doing Their Job Is Key To The Buccaneers Winning On Monday
Against the Rams, the Bucs offense has to get everyone involved. Last week, they put up 544 yards, a season-best, against Carolina. They will need a similar offensive effort against Donald and the Rams’ defense. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski have the speed and ability to gain yardage after the catch. Expect that to be utilized in the short passing game as the Bucs hope to offset the Rams’ pass rush. Expect running back Ronald Jones to get some touches on Monday as well as he is coming off 192 yards on 23 carries against the Panthers.
On the defensive side for Tampa, they have a challenge ahead of them as the Rams are coming int averaging nearly 400 yards of offense per game with quarterback Jared Goff. The Buccaneers have shown they could have one of the best defenses in the league with the likes of Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Antoine Winfield. However, they have not been immune to undisciplined and sloppy play at times. With a creative play-caller such as Sean McVay at the helm, discipline will be key for the Bucs success on defense.
“We’ve just have to do our jobs”, said Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. “It’s about eye discipline every week from that standpoint, but we have to be fundamentally sound. They do a good job making sure all 11 guys have to be fundamentally sound because if you’re not, they will find the weakness.”
The Bucs SHOULD beat the Rams and improve to (8-3). Unlike in years past, the Bucs tend to be their own biggest enemy when it comes to wins and losses. With Saints quarterback Drew Brees expected to miss several more weeks, the Bucs have a great opportunity to overtake the division, assuming the Saints actually lose games in Brees’ absence. Regardless, the Bucs have to keep winning and picking up a big primetime victory ahead of their game against the Chiefs will set the team up nicely for the stretch run.