The Los Angeles Rams had no trouble getting past the Arizona Cardinals last week, but some questions remain as they prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Are the Rams good enough to take down the defending Super Bowl champions? According to the NFL betting lines from BetMGM, the Buccaneers are three-point favorites.
Rams at Buccaneers (-3)
- Date: Sunday, January 23, 2022
- Time: 3:00 PM EST
- Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
The Rams Defensive Line Could Win This Game
The Buccaneers have some serious injury concerns along their offensive line. They lost right tackle Tristan Wirfs to an ankle injury during last week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Center Ryan Jensen also suffered a back injury during the Eagles game, though he played through it.
When healthy, the Tampa Bay offensive line allowed just 1.5 sacks per game this year, putting the Bucs in a tie with the Buffalo Bills for the fewest sacks allowed.
Rams DT Aaron Donald might change that script, especially if the Tampa Bay offensive line isn’t 100 percent. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had another monster season with 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. When these teams met in Week 3, Donald recorded two solo tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble.
Matthew Stafford’s Weapons
Rams QB Matthew Stafford won the first playoff game of his career last week.
While Stafford must now duel Bucs QB Tom Brady, he does so with a full arsenal at his disposal. The mid-season addition of WR Odell Beckham Jr. continues to pay dividends. Last week against the Cardinals, he caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
WR Cooper Kupp led the league in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns this season. His impressive play continued last week with five receptions for 61 yards and one touchdown.
The Running Game Will Be Important
If the Bucs offensive line is hurt, Tampa Bay may run the ball to take some of the heat off Brady, especially if Leonard Fournette returns. The Rams defense should be ready to stop the Buccaneers run game. Los Angeles allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game this year, giving up just 100.8 rushing yards per contest. The Rams are also one of five teams in the NFL allowing fewer than four yards per rush attempt.
The return of Rams RB Cam Akers should help their running game. Last week against Arizona, he rushed for 55 yards and contributed to the passing game with a 40-yard reception. The Buccaneers only allow 92.7 rushing yards per game, but that stat is a little misleading. The Buccaneers give up 4.4 yards per rush attempt, and teams only attempt 21.3 rushes per game against them.
I believe this is because the Buccaneers tend to start hot and build early leads against teams. Tampa Bay is second in the league in first-half points (15.5). If the Rams dedicate themselves to running the football against the Buccaneers, I believe they’ll have success and can control the clock.
Reviewing the Los Angeles Rams Chances To Beat Tampa Bay
The Rams are a solid team that can beat anybody in the NFL. The Buccaneers are dealing with injuries on offense, especially at the offensive line. If Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles defense can pressure Tom Brady, the Rams have a great chance to win this game.
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