Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Week 3 Predictions and Picks: Against the Spread, Total, and Props
So you don’t believe that there is parity in the NFL? What if I told you that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Week 2 clash against the Los Angeles Rams was the only meeting of two 2-0 teams in Week 3? The Buccaneers put their ten-game winning streak on the line in a possible NFC Championship Game preview
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady continues to defy Father Time, as he is doing things at the age of 44 that have rarely been matched in any professional sport. He is coming off a five-touchdown performance against Atlanta, his eighth-career five-touchdown game, and his second in Tampa Bay. His nine passing touchdowns through two games lead the league and exceeds his previous career-high. The nine touchdowns have gone to four different receivers, and five different players have seen double-digit targets. However, it has not been mistake-free football early on for Tampa Bay, as their five turnovers are tied for the most in the league. In addition, their defense has given up 799 yards through the first two games and 27.0 points per game.
The Los Angeles Rams have to feel like the winners in the Jared Goff-for-Matthew Stafford trade through two games. Stafford is coming off an efficient 19-for-30 outing where he threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Colts. He has built an instant connection with receiver Cooper Kupp, and it does not look like the tandem will slow down any time soon. Stafford is 16-for-21 for 271 yards with three touchdowns and 11 first downs when targeting Kupp this year. To support an offense that has averaged 30.5 points per game, their defense has forced four turnovers, and they rank eighth in scoring defense, allowing just 19.0 points per game through two games.
From an ATS perspective, one may want to do some house calls for sports bettors around the country, as many likely fainted when they saw Tampa Bay as underdogs with an initial spread of +1. Not only has Tampa Bay won ten consecutive games, but they are the first team in NFL history to score at least 30 points in nine straight wins. However, an unwritten rule in sports betting is that if something looks too good to be true, it rarely is. Thus, this line has the smell that it is begging bettors to take the Buccaneers, while one can make a great case that the Rams are deserving favorites.
Tampa Bay’s second-to-last loss before beginning their Super Bowl run last year was a 27-24 home defeat to the Rams. Los Angeles held Tom Brady to a 54.2% completion percentage in that game while also picking him off twice. Though their defense was credited with just one sack, their relentless pressure with four down-linemen forced Brady to get the ball out much quicker than he wanted to and negated the big-play ability downfield of their “big three” receivers.
Another big concern for Tampa Bay backers in this game is how iffy their defense looks heading into this week. Two late pick-sixes against the Falcons masked what was otherwise an uninspiring defensive effort, as they allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 300 yards and en route to being outgained by seven yards on the day. Clearly, the Buccaneers front office is also concerned, as they reportedly checked on the availability of cornerback Richard Sherman earlier this week.
The Rams enter this game with a question mark as well, specifically surrounding the health of lead running back Darrell Henderson. Last week, he suffered a rib cartilage injury, and the newly acquired Sony Michel will likely dominate the backfield duties if Henderson cannot play. However, Michel has averaged more yards per carry (4.4-4.2) than Henderson in his limited action thus far, and head coach Sean McVay has to feel confident that Michel knows the playbook enough by now to trust him as his lead back.
The Brady “revenge factor” is real as he will look to atone for last year’s loss. However, what will also prove real is that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the Rams offense to new heights. Many will question Los Angeles’ ability to win a game of this magnitude after their uninspiring win last week against the Colts. Naysayers will point to their multiple goal-line stands and say that the Rams were fortunate to beat Indianapolis. However, we prefer to view that as that was the Rams looking ahead to this game while still pulling out a victory on the road against a playoff team from last year.
The line has since flipped and Tampa Bay is now one-point favorites, but this still feels like a trap and we beg you not to take the bait.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Prediction and Pick
PICK: RAMS +1 @ -110