Rams vs. Buccaneers Preview and Prediction: Can Aaron Donald and Von Miller dominate?

As we look to make a prediction for this week's Rams vs. Buccaneers game, what does our preview identify as the key matchups this week?

For the third time in two seasons, the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off. But as we preview this game, will the result be different this time, or will we see another repeat? Let’s examine some of the key elements of this Rams vs. Buccaneers game before making a prediction for how it may go on Sunday.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

Since Tom Brady arrived in Tampa Bay, the Rams and Buccaneers have faced each other twice in two seasons. The Rams have come out on top both times and will enter this game with plenty of confidence. However, defeating the same team twice in one year can be tough — just ask the Packers.

The Buccaneers and Rams have combined to win 12 of 14 since Week 13. Both teams will come into this game knowing that a win will see them host the NFC Championship Game. For the Rams, they also know that a victory here gives them the opportunity to host the next two games, with Super Bowl 56 set to be played in SoFi Stadium. Let’s preview the key elements for Rams at Buccaneers and make a prediction for how the game may play out.

Do the Rams have the key ingredient to beat Tom Brady?

The advice on how to beat Tom Brady is no secret at this point. When asked how you beat Brady, most people will say pressure up the middle. Los Angeles has the perfect option to execute that plan in Aaron Donald. LA’s defensive tackle is always a handful, and even if he does not appear on the stat sheet himself, his presence opens things up for others.

The Buccaneers will be concerned that C Ryan Jensen was only able to practice once this week (in a limited fashion). Jensen left the game against the Eagles with an ankle injury but was able to return. However, he did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday and is listed as questionable heading into the game. If he is limited, that will put serious pressure on guards Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet to help him with Donald.

Injuries to the offensive line have come at the worst time for the Buccaneers

There is never a good time to have injuries along the offensive line, but facing the Rams might very well be the worst. Not only do they have Donald rushing the passer up the middle, but they also have Von Miller coming off the edge. After being acquired from the Broncos midseason, Miller took four games to get going. However, he finished out the season with 5 sacks in the final four games. He then added another one last week against the Cardinals.

The problem for Tampa Bay is that Tristan Wirfs was also limited this week at practice. He was listed as a non-participant with an ankle injury on Wednesday and Thursday, but he managed to return in a limited fashion Friday. He enters game day listed as questionable. His movement and ability to remain on the field are key, especially if Marpet and Cappa have to support Jensen up the middle. Wirfs could easily be on an island all day against Miller.

The role of Jalen Ramsey will be fascinating

It will be intriguing to see how the Rams line up in their secondary against Mike Evans this week. With Chris Godwin injured and Antonio Brown gone from the team, the Buccaneers have gone from having one of the strongest receiving trios in the league to having serious question marks at the position.

The loss of those two players allows the Rams to shadow Evans with Ramsey. If they make that decision, Brady will likely have no choice but to challenge Ramsey multiple times in this game. It will be tough for the Buccaneers to win this game just by throwing the ball to their other receivers and using Evans as a decoy. The first few snaps where Ramsey and Evans line up against each other could dictate the day Brady will have throwing the ball.

In the first matchup this season, Ramsey allowed 8 completions on 12 targets but only gave up 7.4 yards per completion. He gave up a passer rating against of 78.1 and was also used to provide pressure on Brady, blitzing four times and forcing Brady to hurry twice.

If the Rams decide to utilize Ramsey differently, they have that luxury because of Darious Williams. The young CB has been a real find for the Rams, but he’s struggled a bit more this season. Williams has allowed a 95.8 passer rating against, including giving up 4 touchdowns. If the Rams feel confident at times with Williams covering Evans, it will open Ramsey up to be used on the blitz or even stepping inside to provide some coverage on TE Rob Gronkowski.

Rams vs. Buccaneers betting line and game prediction

  • Spread: Buccaneers -2.5 (Odds courtesy of DraftKings)
  • Moneyline: Rams +125; Buccaneers -145
  • Total: 48

A big part of playing the Buccaneers is the “mystique” of playing Brady. However, the Rams will have none of that after winning their last two matchups against this team with Brady under center. Additionally, Donald and Miller will be licking their chops at the opportunity to go up against potentially limited versions of Jensen and Wirfs.

The outcome of this game likely rests in the battle between the Buccaneers’ offense and the Rams’ defense. If the Rams’ offense plays to its level, they will score somewhere between 20-30 points. The question for the Buccaneers is can they get into the high 20s, or will the Rams restrict them to somewhere around 24 points?

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The Rams’ offense was close to flawless against the Cardinals last week. However, we know that is not always the case. The absence of Andrew Whitworth again is a concern. When Matthew Stafford is under pressure, he can make rash decisions and mistakes. If the offensive line can provide him with time, he should pick the Buccaneers’ secondary apart. However, we saw in the Super Bowl last year how dangerous this Buccaneers’ defense is when an offensive line is compromised.

This feels like another game that is close enough where you take the underdog getting the points. We saw two upsets Saturday, and there is a real chance we see the same again to start Sunday.

Rams vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Rams 27, Buccaneers 24

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