Thu, 21 Oct 2021

2021 Game Preview: Buccaneers-Rams, Week 3

Buccaneers
24 Sep 2021, 19:26 GMT+10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Two red-hot veteran quarterbacks will do battle on Sunday in Los Angeles, one riding a 10-game winning streak and one enjoying a change of scenery and a new cast of talented pass-catchers Scott Smith

There are exactly two teams in the NFC that were in the playoffs last year and are 2-0 so far this season. They are the top two teams listed in this power ranking, this power ranking and this power ranking. They are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams and, as luck would have it for NFL fans, they are meeting this Sunday in the new SoFi stadium. Good work, NFL schedule-makers.

The Buccaneers will make their first road trip of the season, and it's a long one with one of their most challenging opponents of the season waiting at the other end. At least the Bucs will ride out west on a 10-game winning streak and a run of nine straight wins with 30-plus points scored, which had never been done before in NFL history. The Buccaneers could have difficult extending that streak against a star-studded Rams defense that finished first in the NFL in both points and yards allowed in 2020. On the other hand, this one might very well be a shootout that tests the fancy scoreboards at SoFi.

The Buccaneers lead the NFL in scoring with an average of 39.5 points per game and the Rams are second at 30.5. Even if one removed the Bucs' two defensive touchdowns from last week (and the defensive touchdowns for other teams), Tampa Bay would still be second in scoring, behind only Arizona. Tom Brady leads the NFL with nine touchdown passes and the Bucs are seven-for-10 scoring touchdowns when hitting the red zone. Though there have been some occasional lulls that have frustrated Head Coach Bruce Arians but with Brady now fully in command of Arians' offense in Year Two it frequently looks unstoppable.

Of course, unstoppable is a good term for what the Rams' passing attack looked like against the Buccaneers last November, especially when getting it into the hands of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods and letting them run. The Rams didn't run away with the game on the scoreboard - there were four ties and neither team ever led by more than seven points - but Kupp and Woods ran away from Bucs defenders to the tune of 23 catches and 275 yards.

If the Bucs have found an answer for that sort of attack in the past 10 months, they have a new problem to deal with now: Matthew Stafford. The Rams swapped their previous quarterback, Jared Goff, and a couple of first-round picks to get Stafford, the proverbial 'final piece of the puzzle,' and Stafford is making the deal look good. Now the Rams are also looking for chunk plays on big shots downfield, and getting them. In this matchup, that's supposed to be the Bucs' area of expertise but now Brady will have a cannon-armed and extremely experienced veteran trying to match him throw for throw. Stafford has thrown five touchdowns so far and has a passer rating of 127.0.

None of that will necessarily come easy against a pair of proud defenses that believe they are better than what the early numbers suggest. Not that the numbers have been bad for the Rams, who rank eighth in scoring and 12th in yards on defense, but a good bit of that is due to very stingy work in the red zone and that's where Tampa Bay thrives. The Bucs, meanwhile, have given up 27 points per game (which, in today's NFL, is still only 11th-worst in the league) and 342 passing yards per outing. That has come at a high volume of plays, as the Bucs have already seen 108 drop-backs, and the pass defense does rank a more respectable 11th in yards allowed per pass play.

The Rams have Aaron Donald, the best defensive player in football, and perhaps the league's top cornerback duo in Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. The Buccaneers have edge-rushing monster Shaquil Barrett and rising middle-of-the-field stars Devin White and Vita Vea. So far, offense has ruled the day for both of these two undefeated teams, but in this matchup it could very well be the big defensive plays that turn the tide.

GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) at Los Angeles Rams (2-0)

Sunday, September 26, 4:25 p.m. ET

SoFi Stadium (capacity: 71,500)

Inglewood, California

Television: FOX (Local WTVT Channel 13)

TV Broadcast Team: Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst), Erin Andrews (reporter), Tom Rinaldi (reporter)

Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station

Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (sideline)

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

Coming to the game or enjoying pregame festivities? Check out our Tailgate Packages or visit the Buccaneers Gameday Page for everything you need to know about Bucs Beach and more!

ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES

The Buccaneers decades-long history with the Rams includes the highest-scoring game in franchise history, the most thrilling Monday Night Football victory in team annals and a pair of NFC Championship Games, neither of which went the right way for Tampa Bay.

The Los Angeles-and then St. Louis-and then Los Angeles again Rams hold a 15-9 edge in the all-time series with Tampa Bay after taking the most recent meeting in Tampa last year. In a game that had three lead changes and four different ties, the Rams won 27-24 on a 40-yard field goal by former Buccaneer Matt Gay with 2:36 left in regulation. Los Angeles held the Bucs to just 251 yards, their second-lowest total of the year, but Tom Brady hit Chris Godwin on a 13-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with four minutes to play. The Rams duo of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp combined for 23 catches and 275 yards and Jordan Fuller sealed the win with a pick on Tampa Bay's last drive.

In Week Four of the 2019 season, the Buccaneers played in L.A. for the first time in 26 years and celebrated with a 55-40 win that set team records for most points scored and most combined points by both teams. Six different Buccaneers scored touchdowns in the game, with Godwin notching two among his 12 catches for 172 yards. Former Ram Ndamukong Suh ended the Rams' late comeback attempt with a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown after a Shaq Barrett sack and forced fumble.

That win snapped a five-game winning streak in the series by the Rams, which in turn had come after the Bucs had won five of six between 2000 and 2010.

The second of the two Bucs-Rams NFC Championship Games came at the end of the 1999 season, pitting St. Louis' "Greatest Show on Turf" against a stifling Buccaneers defense. That defense carried the day for most of the game's four quarters until Ricky Proehl's 30-yard touchdown catch in the final five minutes gave the Rams an 11-6 lead. The Bucs had one more chance to take the lead back but stalled well into Rams territory after an overturned reception that led to the famous Bert Emanuel rule. Coincidentally, the Bucs and Rams had also met in the NFC Championship Game in 1979, in Tampa Bay's first-ever foray into the playoffs. Los Angeles won that game, 9-0.

The most famous non-playoff game between the Bucs and Rams occurred the season after their second NFCC meeting. In Week 16 of the 2000 campaign, with both Tampa Bay and St. Louis fighting for playoff spots, the two clubs staged an incredible shootout on Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium. Marshall Faulk scored four touchdowns for the visiting Rams but Warrick Dunn countered with three rushing scores of his own, including the game-winner on a one-yard dive with 48 seconds left. That final drive was kept alive by an incredible bit of ad-libbing by Dunn, who got out of a tackle for a loss by flipping the ball back to quarterback Shaun King. King ran around the end for a first down and a late-hit penalty tacked on 15 more yards. The Bucs held on to their hard-fought 38-35 win when John Lynch intercepted Kurt Warner's last pass.

NOTABLE CONNECTIONS Rams Head Coach Sean McVay got his very first NFL job in Tampa, joining Jon Gruden's staff as an offensive assistant in 2008. Buccaneers defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh played for the Rams in 2018 as they advanced all the way to Super Bowl LIII. Suh started every game and contributed 69 tackles and 6.0 sacks, playoffs included. Rams kicker Matt Gay originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2019. He spent one season as the Bucs' kicker and made 27 of his 35 field goals. The Buccaneers went with the veteran Ryan Succop over Gay at the start of the 2020 season and Gay later joined the Rams just after midseason. Raheem Morris, currently in his first year as the Rams' defensive coordinator, was the Buccaneers' head coach from 2009-11. Tampa Bay compiled a 17-31 record in that span. Morris was also an assistant on the Bucs' coaching staff from 2002-05 and again from 2007-08, starting out as a defensive quality control coach and eventually moving on to assistant defensive backs coach and defensive backs coach. Morris was also promoted to defensive coordinator after the 2008 season to replace Monte Kiffin but he got the head coaching job just a few weeks later. Los Angeles Secondary Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Ejiro Evero also broke into the NFL with the Buccaneers, coming aboard Gruden's staff in 2007 as a defensive quality control coach. He remained in that role for three seasons, the last one under Morris. Eric Yarber, in his fifth season as the Rams' wide receivers coach, held the same role for two seasons (2010-11) under Morris. DeSean Jackson, who is in his first season with the Rams played for the Buccaneers during the 2017-18 seasons, recording 91 catches for 1,422 yards and seven touchdowns. Kevin Demoff, the Rams' Chief Operating Officer, took over his current post as four seasons with the Buccaneers, working as a consultant and a senior assistant. Rams Assistant Special Teams Coach Dwayne Stukes was previously both a player and a coach in the Buccaneers organization. Stukes spent part of the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl season on the team's practice squad. He later had a six-year stint on Tampa Bay's coaching staff (2006-11), serving as the special teams coordinator in his final campaign. SENIOR COACHING STAFFS Tampa Bay: Head Coach Bruce Arians Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong Los Angeles: Head Coach Sean McVay Offensive Coordinator Kevin O'Connell Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis KEY 2021 ROSTER ADDITIONS

Buccaneers:

S Andrew Adams (FA) RB Giovani Bernard (FA) LB K.J. Britt (fifth-round draft pick) WR Jaelon Darden (fourth-round draft pick) CB Dee Delaney (FA) OL Robert Hainsey (third-round draft pick) QB Kyle Trask (second-round draft pick) OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (first-round draft pick)

Rams:

WR Tutu Atwell (second-round draft pick) DT Bobby Brown (fourth-round draft pick) RB Jake Funk (fifth-round draft pick) WR DeSean Jackson (FA) LB Ernest Jones (third-round draft pick) RB Sony Michel (T-NE) CB Robert Rochell (fourth-round draft pick) QB Matthew Stafford (T-DET) ADDITIONAL 2021 CHANGES OF NOTE

Buccaneers:

While "keeping the band" together on the field for a run at another championship, the Buccaneers also managed to keep their coaching staff almost entirely intact for 2021. The lone departure was Offensive Assistant Antwaan Randle El, who left to coach the receivers on Dan Campbell's staff in Detroit. There were two additions to Arians' staff: Offensive Assistant A.Q. Shipley and Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Thaddeus Lewis. Mike Greenberg, who provided invaluable help to Jason Licht in the efforts to keep the Bucs' Super Bowl-winning roster together as the team's director of football administration, was promoted during the offseason to vice president of football administration. Greenberg is entering his 12th year with the team. After playing their 2020 home schedule in front of audiences ranging from empty stands to about 25% capacity, the Buccaneers will be at full capacity at Raymond James Stadium in 2021. And we do mean full capacity. The defending champions have already sold out every home game this season; the last time every game at Raymond James Stadium sold out was in 2009. The Buccaneers introduced new uniforms in 2020 that were heavily influenced by the look the team had during its first Super Bowl era but also included a brand new alternate set with matching pewter jerseys and pants. That gave the team four combinations last season: pewter on pewter, white on white, white on pewter and red on pewter. The Bucs will use a fifth combination in 2021, with a red jersey over white pants, which they will wear in the Sunday Night Football spotlight at home against the Saints in Week 15. Veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown is not a new addition to the team in 2021 but he will have a chance to make a greater impact this season. Brown joined the Buccaneers at midseason last year and played in the last eight games of the regular season, recording 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He also appeared in three postseason contests and memorably scored a touchdown in Super Bowl LV. This time Brown will be an integral part of the offense from Day One, and he'll be moving more freely after having knee surgery in the offseason. From 2013-18, Brown averaged approximately 114 catches for 1,524 yards and 13 touchdowns per season.

Rams:

There are new men in two of the three coordinator spots under McVay in 2021 after the departure of Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley to be the new Chargers head coach and the shift of Special Teams Coordinator John Bonamego to the positions of senior coaching assistant. Both Staley and Bonamego had held those positions for just one season. Taking their spots are Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris and Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis. The Rams have kept the same scheme they were running under Staley on defense but Morris, who spent two thirds of last season as the Falcons' interim head coach, is sure to put his own spin on it. DeCamillis is now in his 34th consecutive season as an NFL special teams coach or coordinator, having previously held the position for Denver (twice), the New York Giants, Atlanta, Jacksonville (twice), Dallas and Chicago. McVay has a number of other new faces on his coaching staff in 2021, in large part because a handful of assistants were poached by other teams or colleges. That includes Staley, Joe Barry (defensive coordinator in Green Bay), Shane Waldron (offensive coordinator in Seattle), Andy Dickerson (run game coordinator in Seattle), Aubrey Pleasant (pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach in Detroit) and Liam Coen (offensive coordinator at the University of Kentucky). In addition, Offensive Line Coach Aaron Kromer was not retained. New to the Rams staff in 2021 are Offensive Line Coach Kevin Carberry, Offensive Assistant Nick Jones, Assistant Special Teams Coach Dwayne Stukes, Offensive Assistant Chris O'Hara and Assistant Defensive Line Coach Marcus Dixon. Wes Phillips, also the tight ends coach, took over for Waldron as the passing game coordinator. TOP STORYLINES

Who Has the Hottest Hand? - Tom Brady is in his second year with the Buccaneers and, after winning a Super Bowl in the first one he frighteningly has a much firmer grasp on Arians' offense now. He's won two straight FedEx Air Player of the Week awards after throwing a league-high nine touchdown passes and compiling a passer rating of 113.3. He has shown off some pin-point passing with almost no glaring mistakes; his two interceptions came on a Hail Mary and a pass that went through Leonard Fournette's hands. Brady probably won't continue to average 4.5 touchdown passes per game, but there's reason to believe he could have one of his most prolific seasons ever, at the age of 44, amazingly. Thanks to those two interceptions, Brady is not even in the top five in the NFL's passer rating rankings, and he's not the highest rated quarterback in Sunday's game. The Rams' Matthew Stafford is third with a mark of 127.0, behind only Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. Playing for a new team and surrounded by the most talent he's ever enjoyed, Stafford has thrown five touchdown passes and just one interception and is averaging almost exactly 300 passing yards per game. So Sunday's game has two of the best veteran quarterbacks in the NFL, one showing off all he can still do now that he has complete command of the system and the other enjoying a new and talented cast of teammates and an offense that makes stars out of lesser passers. Will either, or both, stay as hot as they have been the first two weeks or will one or both defenses finally put a stop to that?

The Long Road - Though the Buccaneers are playing their second Sunday afternoon game in a row, Arians has repeatedly referred to Week Three as a "short week" for his team in terms of preparation. That's because there were extra long breaks before and after the Bucs' Thursday night game in Week One, allowing for extra days of preparation and/or rest. Now the team has just three days to practice for the Rams and has to make a long trip on Sunday rather than resting at home. The Buccaneers have protected their home field advantage to get out to a 2-0 start but will now face their first road test, and a serious one at that. The Bucs were up to the challenge of an L.A. game in 2019, Arians' first year at the helm, as they beat the Rams in a wild shootout, 55-40. That game was played at the venerable L.A. Coliseum, but now the Bucs will head to the new SoFi stadium, which opened last year but only now is welcoming in full crowds. So far, the Rams have enjoyed playing at SoFi, winning seven of their first nine home games in their new digs. Arians says the Buccaneers aren't worried about the crowd noise, however. "I can't wait to see the stadium," he said. "We do crowd noise all the time, so it's all on the offense. We're very, very capable of handling the noise so that won't be an issue whatsoever."

Catching an Opportunity - The Buccaneers are facing their first COVID-related hurdles of the 2021 regular season, as they had to place both reserve inside linebacker Kevin Minter and third receiver Antonio Brown on the reserve list this week. Either could return to the roster in time for Sunday's game if they are asymptomatic and if they return two negative tests 24 hours apart. Brown, who went on the list on Wednesday as compared to Monday for Minter, is less likely to meet those requirements and Arians said it would be "gravy" to get him back for the game. As such, the Buccaneers are preparing to face the Rams without Brown, who is second on the team with 138 receiving yards so far. Fortunately, the Bucs are notably deep at the receiver position, even with Jaydon Mickens (primarily a return man) possibly out too with an abdomen injury. Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson are waiting for opportunities after seeing just 20 offensive snaps each in the first two games. Miller has speed to burn and showed off his big-play capability several times last season, so he could see a lot of action on the outside in three-receiver sets with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Johnson has a game patterned much like Godwin's and can also help with his blocking in the ground game. This might also be the first opportunity for rookie Jaelon Darden to be active, possibly to fill in for Mickens on punt and kickoff returns and maybe get some action on offense. Darden has impressive make-you-miss moves and lateral quickness in the open field. The Buccaneers don't necessarily need any of these young receivers to have a big game in order to keep the passing game in high gear Sunday, but it's certainly an opportunity for them to contribute.

Losing the Lulls - One can't really complain about an offense that is scoring 33 points per game and has topped 30 points for nine straight outings, dating back to last year. And yet Arians is clearly not satisfied at this point. For instance, he was a little, shall we say, irritated coming off the field at halftime of the win over Atlanta, as caught in a sideline interview. Of that interview, Arians said: "There's a level of play I want to see, and there's a level of play I will not accept. It was not a very good first half, even though we had 21 points." What has Arians bothered is what he calls spells of "lackadaisical" play that follow periods of dominance. The Bucs scored effortlessly on the first drive of last Sunday's game and were bearing down on the end zone again minutes later when a sack-fumble ended that drive. What looked like it could turn into a quick blowout remained close enough for Atlanta to rally in the third quarter. And that third period contained a number of third-down failures on defense that kept long Falcons drives alive. After the game, Arians made it clear that this on-again, off-again level of play would not suffice when the Buccaneers went to Los Angeles to take on the 2-0 Rams. Will the Buccaneers be able to play a complete 60 minutes of high-level football on Sunday? They may need to.

Containing the Stars - The Buccaneers may not face another opponent in 2021 who can confront them with a defensive duo as talented or as versatile as Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Rams use Donald all over their front and Ramsey all over the whole field and both are possibly the best in the game at their respective positions. Few teams completely shut Donald out of their backfield and some offenses choose simply to throw the ball anywhere but where Ramsey is. The Buccaneers have stonewalled great defensive players before - in fact, they did a pretty good job of keeping Donald out of their backfield in their narrow loss to the Rams last December - but it's hard to contain two of them at the same time. If, as we mentioned above in the introduction, this game turns into a shootout that hinges on one or two big defensive plays, the Rams are well-equipped to be the team to make those plays. How well the Bucs keep Donald and Ramsey from impacting the game will be critical to the final outcome.

KEY MATCHUPS

1. Rams WR Cooper Kupp vs. Buccaneers DB Mike Edwards

With Sean Murphy-Bunting on the I.R. shelf, the Buccaneers used two plays in the slot against the Falcons, Ross Cockrell and Mike Edwards. Given what Edwards did, recording two pick-sixes, it's likely that he has earned a larger share of playing time, particularly when Todd Bowles also subs him in for safety Jordan Whitehead at times. If Edwards is in the slot on Sunday he's going to see a lot of Cooper Kupp, who is one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL. Kupp is shifty, especially for a bigger receiver, and he had the third-most yards after the catch in the league last year. He's also off to a blazing start with Matthew Stafford, already catching 16 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Stafford is feeding Kupp and his running mate, Robert Woods, targeting the two of them 34 times as opposed to 22 times for every other player on the team combined. Edwards, meanwhile, brings good cover skills plus a safety's see-the-field mentality into the slot. He has a nose for the football, obviously, and he's got enough size to match up with Kupp physically.

2. Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin vs. Rams CB Darious Williams

Last season, Darious Williams gave the Rams exactly what they needed, a strong outside cornerback to pair with Jalen Ramsey, allowing Troy Hill to play in the slot, where he excelled. However, Hill left for Cleveland in free agency, making David Long the third cornerback in the Rams' schemes. Unlike Hill, Long plays exclusively on the outside, leaving the slot job to be split by Williams and Jalen Ramsey. Essentially, the Rams decide what they want to do with Ramsey - who they have been moving all over the field early this season - and that dictates where Williams will be playing. All of which adds up to Williams likely having some coverage snaps on Chris Godwin both inside and outside, as Godwin also plays a very versatile role. Throw in the possibility that the Rams will choose to shadow Mike Evans with Ramsey - Bruce Arians hinted that he saw that as a strong possibility on Wednesday - and there's even more likelihood of Godwin and Williams going at it all afternoon. The Bucs' passing attack is so loaded that it will probably have a different standout every game, but overall Godwin has seen the most action so far, leading the team with 13 catches for 167 yards on 18 targets. Godwin does have a size advantage on the 5-9, 187-pound defender but Williams emerged as a tenacious cover man last year, finishing with four interceptions and 14 passes defensed.

3. Rams QB Matthew Stafford vs. Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield, Jr.

As noted above, the addition of Stafford has added a new dimension to a Rams offense that was already very good at scheming guys open into areas in which they could take a quick pass and make it into a big gain. The Buccaneers saw a lot of that from the Rams last November. Now that they have Stafford, however, the Rams are taking more shots downfield, and doing it well. Through two games, Stafford has a passer rating of 149.3 on the passes he's thrown more than 20 yards downfield in the air. If he gets a shot, he's going to take it. The Rams averaged 10.7 yards per reception in 2020; they're up to 15.4 yards per catch in 2021, which is not sustainable but is still a sign of a much more dangerous downfield attack. All of which makes life harder for the Bucs' second-year safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. Winfield will be needed to help contain all of the Rams' underneath stuff, which they'll surely still utilize frequently, but he also can't afford to let any pass-catchers get behind him. Fortunately, Winfield has veteran savvy for such a young player and he can diagnose a quarterback's intentions quickly and make up ground fast on an open man. That was evident last Sunday on an attempted deep corner route to Calvin Ridley that Winfield chased down, making a leaping pass breakup along the sideline at the last moment.

4. Buccaneers G Ali Marpet vs. Rams DL Aaron Donald

Slowing down Aaron Donald is going to take a village but one of the key villagers will be Marpet, the left guard and perhaps Tampa Bay's most effective interior-line blocker. Donald is incredibly quick off the line, leading the NFL with an average get-off at the snap of 0.86 seconds each of the past two seasons. That makes it hard for any blocker to get into his stance and get leverage for the Donald onslaught that is coming. It's also why Donald is so frequently double-teamed, though that obviously makes things easier for other Rams pass-rushers. Dante Fowler had by far his best season as a pass-rusher playing with Donald in 2019, as did Leonard Floyd last year, and already this year the unheralded Justin Hollins has two sacks from the edge in two games. Donald's pre-snap location heat map on NFL Next Gen Stats shows him lining up in a variety of spots on the line but primarily over the right or left guard in about equal measures. So Alex Cappa will get plenty of challenges from the Rams superstar as well. But the Marpet-Donald snaps should be particularly entertaining as the Bucs' seventh-year blocker has developed into one of the league's best guards.

INJURY REPORT

Key:

DNP: Did not participate in practice

LP: Limited participation in practice

FP: Full participation in practice

Buccaneers:

DL Steve Mclendon (not injury related) - WED: NL; THURS: DNP WR Jaydon Mickens (abdomen) - WED: DNP; THURS: DNP OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/shoulder) - WED: DNP; THURS: DNP

Rams:

DT Aaron Donald (not injury related) - WED: DNP OLB Leonard Floyd (ankle) - WED: DNP RB Darrell Henderson (ribs) - WED: DNP T Andrew Whitworth (not injury related) - WED: DNP WEATHER FORECAST

Domed Stadium. Outside: Generally sunny, high of 71, low of 60, 6% chance of rain, 73% humidity, winds out of the WSW at 10 mph.

GAME REFEREE

Head referee: Craig Wrolstad (19th season, 8th as referee)

BETTING LINE Favorite: Buccaneers (-1.5) Over/Under: 55.5 INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS

Buccaneers- Points Scored: TE Rob Gronkowski, 24

Touchdowns: TE Rob Gronkowski, 4

Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 655

Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 113.3

Rushing Yards: RB Leonard Fournette, 84

Receptions: WR Chris Godwin, 13

Receiving Yards: WR Chris Godwin, 167

Interceptions: S Mike Edwards, 2

Sacks: OLB Shaquil Barrett/DL Ndamukong Suh, 1.0

Tackles: LB Lavonte David, 19

Rams- Points Scored: K Matt Gay, 19

Touchdowns: WR Cooper Kupp, 3

Passing Yards: QB Matthew Stafford, 599

Passer Rating: QB Matthew Stafford, 127.0

Rushing Yards: RB Darrell Henderson, 123

Receptions: WR Cooper Kupp, 16

Receiving Yards: WR Cooper Kupp, 271

Interceptions: CB David Long/CB Jalen Ramsey/ILB Troy Reeder, 1

Sacks: OLB Justin Hollins, 2.0

Tackles: S Jordan Fuller, 18

TEAM STAT RANKINGS (2020 end of season)

Buccaneers- Scoring Offense: 1st (39.5 ppg)

Total Offense: 13th (386.0 ypg)

Passing Offense: 5th (319.0 ypg)

Rushing Offense: t-30th (67.0 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-11th (22.5)

Third-Down Pct.: t-17th (39.1%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 6th (3.49%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 13th (70.0%)

Scoring Defense: 22nd (27.0 ppg)

Total Defense: 23rd (399.5 ypg)

Passing Defense: 30th (342.0 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 2nd (57.5 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-28th (24.5)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 27th (46.9%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 31st (1.89%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-10th (50.0%)

Turnover Margin: t-21st (-1)

Rams- Scoring Offense: 5th (30.5 ppg)

Total Offense: 16th (378.5 ypg)

Passing Offense: 7th (291.0 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 25th (87.5 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-22nd (19.5)

Third-Down Pct.: 8th (45.0%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 8th (3.57%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 18th (55.6%)

Scoring Defense: 8th (19.0 ppg)

Total Defense: 12th (338.0 ypg)

Passing Defense: 11th (216.5 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 20th (121.5 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-23rd (23.0)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 26th (45.5%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 9th (7.89%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 8th (42.9%)

Turnover Margin: t-4th (+2)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski hooked up for two more touchdowns in against the Falcons, duplicating their feat from Week One against Dallas. The two now have 88 scores as a duo in the regular season, which is the third most by any QB-pass-catcher combination in league history. Brady and Gronkowski only need one more to catch up with former Chargers Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for second on that list. Brady threw five touchdown passes in the win over Atlanta, marking the 13th straight game in which he has had multiple TD passes, including the playoffs. He needs just one more to tie for the longest such streak in league history, postseason included, a record of which he already owns a share. He had a 14-game run of multiple-TD games during the 2010-11 seasons, and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers did the same thing between the 2010 playoffs and the 2011 regular season. WR Antonio Brown has 892 career regular-season receptions. If he gets eight more in Los Angeles he will set the record for the fewest games needed to get to 900 career catches. The record currently belongs to Marvin Harrison, who did it in 149 games. Brown has played in 141 regular season games. Rob Gronkowski has caught a pair of touchdowns in three consecutive games, including Super Bowl LV. If he can do that one more time in Los Angeles he will become the first tight end in NFL history to have done so in four straight games, playoffs included. WR Chris Godwin caught his 26th career touchdown pass in last Sunday's win over Atlanta. He needs one more to get to 27 and tie Mark Carrier for the sixth most in franchise history. NOTABLY QUOTABLE Head Coach Bruce Arians on if he expects another game with a high number of passes like the last two Bucs-Rams contests: "It all depends on stopping the run. I think both teams like running it, too. It's a matter of, for us, we have to get the run established, on the road especially, and stay out of that one-dimensional football. Hopefully defensively we can do just the opposite - get them in a one-dimensional game and get after them." Safety Mike Edwards on if he continues to draw motivation from people doubting him: "Ever since I was little, a lot of people count me out. A lot of people talk stuff about me or whatever. I just take that to the chin - keep it in my back pocket to build motivation. It's just something that I've always had on my mind. I'm just trying to keep showing people what I can do and just keep executing and keep making plays." Tight end Rob Gronkowski on if this game against the Rams seems particularly important: "I mean, yeah. Every game is important - that's a fact - but there are games that definitely feel more important, even though each is just a single game. There are games that feel more important, and I would say this is one of those games. You kind of have that bitter taste. They came in here and beat us in the last couple minutes on a game-winning field goal. They've got a very solid team. They're 2-0, so there is a lot more hype. Sometimes you go into a game and there's just no hype to the game. And then there is games where there is a lot of hype and this is one of those games that's going to be a lot of hype, even though from a game with no hype to a game with hype, it's still one game. That's the difference - it kind of gets the jitters going with games like this. It's going to be a good one." Cornerback Carlton Davis on the Rams' passing attack: "They just kind of have a system that works really well for them. They're confident in their plays and how they run them. It's a lot of quick throws, getting the ball out of the quarterback's hands, giving it to the playmakers and allowing them to make plays. So, I think that's what makes them dangerous, they get the ball to their playmakers and allow them to play the ball."

More Denver News

Access More

Sign up for Denver News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!