Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction: Can Rams Topple Banged-Up Buccaneers?

Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers prediction and pick. NFL expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for the NFC Divisional Round between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction: Can Rams Topple Banged-Up Buccaneers?

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford finally got the “monkey off his back” with his first playoff win in his fourth appearance. Stafford had arguably been the most accomplished quarterback never to have won a playoff game, as his 323 career regular-season touchdown passes had been the most of any quarterback without a playoff victory. He now faces the quarterback with the most playoff victories, and Tom Brady’s 46th playoff start last week is topped by just six franchises in the league. 

Will Brady’s experience and the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run last year help them come out on top this week? Or will Los Angeles’ off-season and in-season transactions help them continue their run to a Super Bowl berth in their home stadium?

Click here for Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds

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Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Injury Report

Los Angeles

QUESTIONABLE: S Taylor Rapp, RB Buddy Howell, WR Ben Skowronek, OT Andrew Whitworth, CB David Long Jr.

OUT: S Jordan Fuller

Tampa Bay

QUESTIONABLE: RB Ronald Jones II, RB Leonard Fournette, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, WR Cyril Grayson, OT Tristan Wirfs, 

OUT: WR Chris Godwin, CB Richard Sherman

Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Odds Movement

Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction

If the NFL were still abiding by the old playoff system from as recently as two years ago, Tampa Bay would have had last week off as the No. 2 seed. Instead, they had to play a Wild Card game against the Eagles. And while the game was never in doubt, the already banged-up Buccaneers suffered another costly injury.

Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs was seen in a walking boot after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s win. Tampa Bay center Ryan Jensen is already dealing with injuries of his own, and a usual strength of the team is now a genuine concern heading into a matchup against Los Angeles’ ferocious front. 

As a result of Tampa Bay’s offensive line injuries, Tom Brady felt the need to get the ball out fast against the Eagles. As a result, his 2.17 second average time to throw was the fastest by any quarterback in a game this season. In addition, he had just 4.5 air yards per attempt and was pressured on 10% of his dropbacks. 

On paper, Tampa Bay should be able to take advantage of a limited Rams secondary, as safety Jordan Fuller’s season-ending ankle injury forced Eric Weddle out of retirement for the playoffs. However, Los Angeles’ pass defense did not miss a beat last week against Kyler Murray, holding him to just a 55.9% completion percentage and 137 yards with two interceptions. In addition, Arizona did not convert a single third down all game, and the 183 total yards the Rams allowed were not just a season-low but was also their fifth-fewest ever allowed under Sean McVay.

A lot has changed since Los Angeles’ 34-24 Week 3 win against Tampa Bay. The Rams got running back Cam Akers back from injury, and they added Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay lost Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, and the statuses of Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Tristan Wirfs are all uncertain.

As important as it is to have Wirfs blocking up front, Brady better hope Fournette is available. Entering last week, since the start of the 2020 season (including the playoffs), Brady’s QBR, completion percentage, TD:INT ratio and pressure percentage are all significantly better with Fournette on the field. When Fournette plays, Brady has a QBR of 73, completes 69% of his passes, has a 4:3 TD:INT ratio, and is pressured on 15% of his dropbacks. Without Fournette, Brady has a QBR of 60, completes 63% of his passes, has a 2:7 TD:INT ratio, and is pressured on 20% of his dropbacks.

The Rams are the healthier team and are arguably more talented at every offensive position except for quarterback. But can Brady overcome all their injuries and lead his team back to the NFC Championship? Los Angeles did not add Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller just to win one playoff game. This team is on a mission, and they will take advantage of Tampa Bay’s injuries this week.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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