TAMPA BAY (2-0) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-0)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT, Fox
OPENING LINE: Rams by 1, according to FanDuel SportsBook
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Tampa Bay 1-1 Los Angeles 1-1.
SERIES RECORD: Rams lead 17-9.
LAST MEETING: Rams beat Buccaneers 27-24 on Nov. 23, 2020, in Tampa.
LAST WEEK: Buccaneers beat Falcons 48-25; Rams beat Colts 27-24.
BUCCANEERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (T-30), PASS (5), SCORING (1).
BUCCANEERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (23), RUSH (2), PASS (30), SCORING (T-21).
RAMS OFFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (25), PASS (7), SCORING (5).
RAMS DEFENSE: OVERALL (12), RUSH (20), PASS (11), SCORING (8).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Buccaneers minus-1; Rams plus-2.
BUCCANEERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Tom Brady is off to a brilliant start in his age-44 season, leading the league with nine touchdown passes. He’ll want to make amends for one of his worst outings of last season in a Monday night loss to the Rams, when Brady averaged a season-low 4.5 yards per attempt, with his longest completion covering 18 yards, and was intercepted twice. With DBs Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams still locking things down in the Los Angeles secondary, Brady will likely target inexperienced CB David Long Jr. and the Rams' youthful safeties on the back end.
RAMS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Cooper Kupp had nine receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. It was Kupp’s second straight game with at least seven grabs for over 100 yards and a score, something he hadn’t done in consecutive outings since Weeks 3-5 of 2019. Kupp’s quick rapport with QB Matthew Stafford is evident in a 16.9 yards-per-catch average after producing just 10.6 yards per catch last season with Jared Goff under center.
KEY MATCHUP: Buccaneers OLs Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa vs. Rams DL Aaron Donald. Donald didn’t have a sack against the Colts, but the last of his three quarterback hits knocked Indianapolis starter Carson Wentz out of the game in the fourth quarter. While Donald was kept off the stats sheet in last year’s meeting, his mere presence did plenty to disrupt Brady and the passing game. The interior of the Tampa Bay line will have to be stout for the offense to have more success this time around, especially because the double-teams Donald should inevitably command will give the Rams favorable matchups elsewhere along the line of scrimmage.
KEY INJURIES: Rams RB Darrell Henderson is likely to miss the game or be limited by a rib injury, meaning more playing time for Sony Michel. ... Rams LB Leonard Floyd has an ankle injury that could slow him. ... Tampa Bay's Jaydon Mickens has an abdominal/hip injury that could prevent the Los Angeles native from returning kicks.
SERIES NOTES: The Rams have won six of the past seven games in the series. ... Tampa Bay won a memorable 55-40 shootout at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2019. ... The Buccaneers’ 2019 win was their first against the Rams in Los Angeles. They lost all four games played in Los Angeles and Anaheim between 1977-1987. ... The Rams have twice defeated the Buccaneers in the NFC championship game, getting a 9-0 win in the 1979 season, and an 11-6 win in the 1999 season when the Rams were based in St Louis.
STATS AND STUFF: Donald needs 1 1/2 sacks to pass Leonard Little (87 1/2) as the franchise’s career leader since sacks became an official stat in 1982. … The next time Brady finds TE Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown pass will be their 89th scoring connection, which will tie Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for second most in NFL history. … Tampa Bay has won an NFL-record nine straight games, including the postseason, in which it has scored at least 30 points. The Buccaneers have scored a franchise record 79 points through their first two games. … Los Angeles is the only team in the league to score on its opening possession in each of its first two games. Stafford has yet to throw an incomplete pass on the first drive (7 for 7, 155 yards, 2 TDs). … Kupp has 13 games with at least 100 yards receiving, most among players drafted in 2017. Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin is tied for second with 12.
FANTASY TIP: With Henderson banged up, the Rams could use quick passes as a substitute for the run game. Stafford’s secondary options such as WR Van Jefferson and TE Tyler Higbee could be useful options in deeper leagues, especially those that award points per reception.
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