The Los Angeles Rams advanced to the Divisional Round after a dominating 34-11 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. It was the first career playoff win for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Will the Rams be one and done, or is this the start of a deep playoff run?
For the Rams to continue in the playoffs, they will have to take down Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Rams (+3) are underdogs according to the latest NFL odds.
Here are some keys to a potential Rams upset.
Here are the details to know about this game:
- Date: Sunday, Jan. 23
- Time: 3:00 P.M. EST
- Venue: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
After getting his first postseason win, the Rams quarterback will want to make a lot more noise in the NFL playoffs. Stafford’s stats have been impressive all season, finishing the regular season with 41 touchdown passes and 4,886 passing yards. He was efficient against Arizona, completing 13 of 17 throws for 202 yards, two passing touchdowns, and one rushing TD.
For the Rams to advance past the Bucs, they will need to lean heavily on Stafford again. The Rams have the fifth-ranked passing offense in the league, averaging 270.9 yards per game. Los Angeles should be able to exploit some mismatches against a vulnerable Tampa Bay secondary that ranks 22nd in passing yards allowed per game.
Look for the Rams to attack through the air early and often.
Top Wide Receivers
With the passing game expected to factor in heavily, Stafford will need some help from his favorite targets.
Top receiving target Cooper Kupp is coming off of a sensational regular season where he led the league in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Kupp came up big again in the Wild Card round, reeling in five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. He will need another solid performance for the Rams to make it to the NFC Championship game.
Odell Beckham Jr. is another legitimate threat in the passing game. Beckham did it all against the Cardinals, with 54 receiving yards, a touchdown, and a 40-yard pass completion. If Tampa Bay doubles Kupp, expect Stafford to take some deep shots to OBJ.
Defensive Pass Rush
The Rams will need a big effort from Stafford and the offense to win, but they will also need a massive defensive effort to keep Tom Brady off the field as much as possible.
The Bucs have the second-ranked scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 30.1 points per game. The Rams have the ninth-ranked scoring defense, allowing 21.3 points per game, but they may have their hands full against a Tampa Bay offensive juggernaut.
For the Rams to succeed on defense, they will need to generate pressure and force Brady out of the pocket. The Rams have successfully generated pressure this year, averaging 2.9 sacks per game (ranked fourth). Blue chippers Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd will need to perform well for the Rams to win.
Can the Rams Pull an Upset?
The Los Angeles Rams have won six out of their last seven games. They’ve looked as good as any team in the league over that span.
The pressure will be on Matthew Stafford to step up and deliver for this Rams offense. Los Angeles has enough weapons on both sides of the ball to win this game. Keep the Rams on your radar this weekend.
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