How to Bet Buccaneers vs Rams
NFC Divisional Round
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3 | O/U 48.5
Sunday January 23rd @ 3:00pm EST
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, FL
A rematch nearly 4 months in the making will take place in the NFC Divisional Round. The earlier meeting was at SoFi Stadium back in September, where the Rams took down the Bucs 34-24. It was a statement win for the Rams early in the season, but now they’ll have to do it again, this time at Raymond James Stadium.
Both teams are coming off impressive wins in the first round, winning by a combined 39 points. It’s the offenses everyone wants to talk about, led by Bruce Arians and Sean McVay, but their defenses were the story in the Wild Card Round.
When these teams played in week 3, the Bucs were 1-point favorites on the road. We’re seeing this game at Bucs -3 with some juice on the other side at most shops (-105). All things considered I’d project the ticket count and money to be pretty split all throughout the week leading up to kickoff.
Can the Bucs Handle Aaron Donald?
Even though Tampa Bay walked away with a blowout win over Philadelphia it didn’t come without a cost. Both right tackle Tristan Wirfs and center Ryan Jensen went down with leg injuries. Wirfs tried to return but couldn’t make it through his first series and Jensen managed to battle through the remainder of the game. But head coach Bruce Arians said decisions on those two players for the Divisional Round will come down to the last minute.
If these two were absent for the Divisional Round it would have a significant impact on this game and likely push this spread below the key number of 3. Wirfs and Jensen are two of the top players at their position and are the reason why the Buccaneers are the best pass protecting unit in the NFL. Brady has been the least pressured quarterback in the NFL by a significant margin, just 19.6% of his dropbacks.
Without Jensen and Wirfs, handling Aaron Donald and the Rams front-4 will be incredibly difficult. Los Angeles is 7th in sack rate this season and with the addition of Von Miller the defensive front has looked really good to finish the season. They should be expecting to rush the passer plenty in this game as the Bucs rely on throwing the ball on 65.7% of plays (1st in NFL).
Bruce Arians play calling doesn’t call for checking the ball down but it’s something they’ll likely look to do against Raheem Morris’ defense. The Rams play a lot of zone coverage and a lot of cover 2. It helps when you have a player like Aaron Donald who can dominate at the line of scrimmage and allow you to have a numbers advantage in the secondary. So look for Giovani Bernard to see a good amount of check down work as Brady attacks those intermediate parts of the field.
Stafford is the Difference Maker
The Rams defense has a great opportunity to be successful in this game but at the end of the day Matthew Stafford will be the difference between a win or a loss. Sean McVay’s gameplan on Monday night against Arizona was to attack them on the ground, which had been the Cardinals defensive weakness all season. It’s a different story with the Bucs, they’ll need to air it out and push the ball downfield in Tampa.
The Buccaneers have a complete defense that welcomed back a number of key players in the Wild Card Round. Opposing teams just cannot run the football against them, the Rams didn’t have much to show for themselves in the previous meeting either. Tampa Bay is quite good against the pass too and a lot of that comes from their league leading 40.8% blitz rate. Opposing offenses average just 6.0 yards per pass attempt against the Bucs, good for 2nd in the NFL.
Stafford was really good against the blitz in the previous matchup and he’s actually been one of the best all season long. Stafford has a league leading 74.8% completion percentage, a 10.1% touchdown rate and just 1 interception on 139 pass attempts against the blitz in 2021. The Bucs did blitz at a 10% lower rate than their average against Los Angeles, they could look to do it even less in this game. But being at home can play a major factor for them in terms of crowd noise and the communication for McVay and Stafford.
With such an emphasis on Stafford and the passing game he will need to take care of the football. The Buccaneers deploy a veteran and opportunistic defense that is averaging 1.8 takeaways per game this season. Stafford has thrown the most interceptions in the NFL in 2021, he’ll need to be patient and disciplined.
How to Bet This Game
* Stay tuned for props once the lines are out!
This is the most difficult game for me to handicap of the Divisional Round. I don’t see a lot of value in this game when it comes to the spread or total. What has me going to the Rams is the the Bucs potential absences of Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen. Brady hasn’t been good under pressure this season which isn’t surprising considering his mobility and age. Mix in the fact that Stafford has been great against the blitz against a Todd Bowles team that can’t help itself but send numbers and I’ve got to put my money on Los Angeles.