The Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dispatched their respective Wild Card round opponents without too much trouble. In the Divisional Round, these two will be challenged. Let’s take a look at the Rams vs. Buccaneers Divisional Round matchup, the latest NFL odds, and our NFL betting pick and prediction.
LA Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick, prediction | Divisional Round
- Spread: Bucs -2.5 (Odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Moneyline: Bucs -150, Rams +130
- Over/Under: 48.5
The Rams were efficient but now face a more difficult test
The Rams broke away from the Arizona Cardinals early, and Arizona failed to ever produce much of a challenge. LA’s defense forced the Cardinals into three-and-outs on each of their first four drives and capitalized on those opportunities offensively. Matthew Stafford and his offense put 14 points on the board, and a horrendous blunder from Kyler Murray — hurling the ball up in the air from his own end zone — resulted in the shortest pick-six in NFL playoff history.
The Rams were up 21-0 before you could blink, and it allowed them to manage the rest of the game efficiently. Stafford wasn’t required to throw the football much in the second half, but his blossoming relationship with Odell Beckham Jr. is enough to keep opposing defenses honest. OBJ was involved in the game early, while the Cardinals were double-teaming the season’s top receiver in Cooper Kupp.
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Cam Akers’ return has worked wonders for the offense too, as he paired with Sony Michel for a dominant game on the ground. The two combined for over 100 rushing yards, breaking the game wide open in the early going.
But the question remains — how good can the Rams be against an efficient Tom Brady offense while dealing with a depleted secondary?
Can Tom Brady’s Bucs fend off the Rams?
Brady and the Bucs have had a tough run of injuries in the last couple of weeks. They lost Chris Godwin to a torn ACL and played without Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones in the Wild Card round.
Perhaps the most worrying of all, however, was the offensive line injuries sustained against the Eagles. Tristan Wirfs has been a Pro Bowl-caliber right tackle in Tampa since he arrived, and he’s a key piece in the Buccaneers’ offense. He rolled his ankle in the first half, and although he attempted to carry on, he was visibly unable to put any weight on his foot.
Center Ryan Jensen went down on the next drive on a play resulting in a touchdown run. Both guys will be fighting to play this weekend, but their status is not yet known. You certainly don’t want to be missing your center and franchise right tackle when you go up against the LA Rams’ front. We saw on Monday night just how influential the Rams’ defense can be rushing the passer, as Murray ended the game with just 137 yards and zero touchdowns.
Rams vs. Bucs betting trends
The Rams covered the spread against Arizona, which puts them on a record of 5-2 in their last seven games against the spread (ATS). They’ve gone 3-4 on over/unders in the same time frame. The Rams’ offense can certainly score points, but against a stout Bucs defense that defends the run extremely well, this one is likely to come down to Stafford’s arm.
Tampa Bay has won eight of their last nine, including last weekend’s Wild Card win. They’re 7-2 ATS in those nine games, and they open this one up against the Rams as a 2.5-point favorite. Can they continue that fine form?
Rams vs. Bucs prediction
History says you should never bet against Brady — even when he’s losing 28-3 in the Super Bowl. But I really don’t know how he’s going to get his work done if he’s lost two of his starters on the offensive line. In last year’s Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes couldn’t get anything going without his tackles. They’re so important to the timing of an offense. Plus, we still don’t know the statuses of Fournette or Jones.
With Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and the rest of the Rams’ front causing mayhem, I’d lean towards the Rams winning this game. However, if Wirfs and Jensen can both play, the pendulum swings in the other direction.
I’ll take the over for the game and the Rams to cover.
Rams vs. Bucs Prediction: Rams 27, Buccaneers 26