The Buccaneers will play their final prime time game of the season Monday night when they take on the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium.
The Rams bring their 6-3 record to Tampa and will be looking to tie the Seahawks for first place in the NFC West.
The Bucs come into the game with a 7-3 record. Two of their three losses have come in prime time.
Bruce Arians talked about the slow starts in prime time games and what they are doing this week to make sure that they can get out to a quick start.
“We’ve got to try something because we’ve had poor starts in night ballgames. We’re going to practice at that game time Friday and Saturday night and do some more stuff Monday morning than we’ve been doing. We’ve got to try something. Luckily we have an indoor facility and we can work at night. We’re going to do that and hopefully get a better result to start a ballgame at night.”
The Rams are led by one of the brightest offensive minds in the game in Sean McVay. But it is the defense that has been shining for the Rams this season. The Rams have the number two ranked defense in the league giving up 296 yards a game.
The Rams have two of the best defenders in the league in defensive back Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Aaron Donald. Donald is second in the league, with nine sacks.
Cornerback Darius Williams is second in the league with four interceptions. Williams, Ramsey, and rookie Jordan Fuller form one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
The Rams are third in pass defense allowing 199 yards a game, while the Rams run defense is fifth in the league giving up 96 yards a game.
The Buccaneers come into the game third in total defense giving up 300 yards a game. The Bucs still have the number one run defense giving up 76 yards a game.
This game has the potential to be an offensive shootout. But the way these two defenses are playing, this could be a defensive slugfest.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff has taken his game to a new level this season, and the Rams rotate three backs in their offensive sets, Darnell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, and Cam Akers.
The Rams are top 10 in offense averaging 396 yards a game. The Rams running game is in the top ten averaging 134 yards a game.
Bucs defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers was asked this week about their plan to stop the Rams running attack. “We talk about it all the time. Stopping the run is not a one-week thing. It’s an all-week thing. It’s a total defensive mentality. The first thing we’re going to talk about is how can we try to slow down the run before we get to coverages or any pass blitzes or anything like that. That’s just kind of a bedrock principle of ours.”
The Bucs may be playing their third straight game without guard Ali Marpet as he is still in concussion protocol.
The offensive line played very well last week against the Carolina defensive line with Ryan Jensen moving to guard, and A.Q. Shipley starting at center.
Marpet is listed as doubtful on the injury report, but there is a slight chance he could clear protocol and be ready to play on Monday Night.
Ronald Jones has cemented his status as the Buc’s number one running back, after his 192-yard effort against Carolina.
Jones is third in the league in rushing with 730 yards.
One of the keys to the Bucs being able to win this game will continue to be the play of the offensive line. Will they be able to keep the aggressive Rams defense off Tom Brady?
When the line has kept Brady upright, Brady has performed well, and the Bucs have won those games.
The front seven of the Bucs defense has to be able to slow down the Rams running attack and keep that Rams run game grounded.
Rams defensive back Jalen Ramsey will cover Mike Evans most of the night, so it could be another big night for Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, or Scotty Miller.
The Bucs want to show the country that they are contenders, not pretenders. They have played their worst football in prime time and will try to change that on Monday Night.
Another twist to this game is the Rams have signed former Buccaneer kicker Matt Gay who will handle the kicking duties for the Rams on Monday Night.
This will be a close game highlighted by two of the best defenses in the league.
The Bucs will win this one 23-20 on a Ryan Succop field goal to move to 8-3 on the season.
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