While many Buccaneers fans would probably like to feel confident heading into the second round of their playoff campaign against the L.A. Rams, there are some very valid reasons to be worried.
The Rams have a star-studded roster similar to that of the Bucs, with an excellent mix of young talent and experience. When you couple that with a savvy coach who is usually as prepared as a coach can be for every matchup, the Bucs will certainly have their hands full.
On top of their personal, the Rams also have history on their side as they and the Saints are the only two teams to have beaten the Bucs twice or more since Tom Brady’s arrival in the Bay.
Despite the evidence as to why Bucs fans should be worried, they are favored.
The Bucs are able to force teams to do something incredibly well, and that is throw the ball and abandon the run. The Buccaneer defense has managed to stifle opposing rushers, which allows the Bucs to make opposing teams run their offense how Tampa wants. This has obviously backfired occasionally this season, especially against pass-first offenses, however, the Rams, despite the caliber of their receiving corps, don’t want to throw the ball unless they have to.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford only threw the ball 17 times in their win over the Cardinals during his first-ever playoff win. If this is a team that wants to throw the ball, we didn’t see it this past weekend.
Stafford hasn’t been as lights-out as initially expected this season, and more than one games have gotten away from the Rams when Stafford starts getting eyes for the other team.
If the Rams have to go pass-heavy against the Bucs they will struggle, even if the Buccaneer defense has struggled against the pass at other times this season.
There is also Tom Brady to factor into the game. Even with the ferocious pass-rush of the Rams, that kind of pressure is nothing new for Brady, who has a ridiculously quick release when he throws the ball. Unlike Kyler Murray, who was overwhelmed by the Rams’ rush and made foolish plays as a result, Brady’s experience will guarantee the same doesn’t occur to him.
The Buccaneers are likely to post far more points than the Cardinals did, which should force the Rams away from the ball control game that they played on Sunday.
Additionally, the Bucs could have the advantage of playing a Rams team without either of its starting safeties, Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller. Rapp could be back on the field depending on if he’s out of concussion protocol yet, but similar to Bucs offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs availability for the game, that will be a game time decision that could also go in favor of Tampa.