The Bucs Look To Get Back On Track As The Los Angeles Rams Come To Tampa For The Raymond James Stadium Opener
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) look to avenge a rough loss in the desert last week by opening up their remodeled home for the first time this season to the Los Angeles Rams (1-1). After a drama filled week involving former tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Bucs need to shed everything that has transpired over the last week and focus on the Rams. The Rams hold a 13-8 series lead against the Bucs, which includes four victories in a row. Jeff Fisher loves playing Tampa as he has a 8-1 record against the Bucs as a head coach all-time. The Bucs have fallen in their last three home openers, and will look to reverse that fortune at 4:05 today.
Buccaneers offense vs. Rams defense
The Rams defense is the heard and soul of this team, and if the Bucs want to find themselves in the win column again, it starts with finding success against a Rams defense that ranks 7th in the league with 15.5 points allowed per game. Last week Los Angeles held the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson to just three points.
After a fantastic performance in week 1 where Jamesis Winston threw for four touchdowns, he was held in check last week and was responsible for five turnovers. Wilson needs to avoid trying to do too much today with Doug Martin out with a hamstring injury. The Rams offense hasn’t been impressive this season, and if Winston and company can avoid turnovers, they should be able to pull out a victory.
With Doug Martin out, Charles Sims will be asked to fill Martin’s shoes. The Rams rank 18th in the league, giving up 108.5 yards per game on the young season. Sims should get plenty of chances to spark the offense today, and the Bucs will need him to be successful to open up the passing game. The Rams are only allowing 204.5 passing yards per game in 2016, so the ground game will need to get moving early for the offense too find success against a tough Rams defense.
Tight end Luck Stocker and Cecil Shorts are both expected to miss this contest with ankle and hamstring injuries respectively. Tackle Donovan Smith is listed as questionable with a hip injury, but did practice in full on Friday.
Buccaneers defense vs. Rams offense
The Bucs defense needs to enter this contest hungry from the get-go. After surrendering 40 points to the Cardinals last week, the defense as a unit needs to prove to the NFL that they are no pushover. The Rams have yet to score a touchdown this season (only scored nine points so far this season), and the Bucs defense should use that stat for fuel to prevent the Rams from putting points on the board. They have scored less points than any other team in the league, and the Bucs need to keep it that way.
One of the most troubling stats concerning the Bucs defense is that they have yet to produce a turnover this season. This isn’t a recipe for success, and being -6 in the turnover ratio after two games is alarming. The defense needs to find ways today to produce turnovers and provide opportunities for the offense to shine.
Rams running back Todd Gurley burst onto the scene last year winning Rookie of the Year honors over Jamesis Winston last year. The sophomore slump seems to have taken it’s toll on Gurley so far this season, as he is only averaging 2.7 yards per carry. This hasn’t been entirely his fault, however, as the passing attack ranks dead last in the league, allowing opposing defenses to stack the box against him.
Gurley told Gary Klien of the Los Angeles Times, “It’s been crazy! I’m like, ‘There is 12 people on the field!’ It’s definitely a lot of people.” The key to having Gurley reassure this feeling he has will be to make tackles, don’t allow Gurley to gain yards after contact.
After pulling a Houdini last week, Lavonte David need to be a big part of slowing the run game down today. If Todd Gurley finds his rhythm the Rams offense becomes much more dynamic. If Gurley can be contained, the defense can force the Rams to beat them through the air, where they are only averaging 169.5 yards per game.
If the Rams try to take the game through the air, pressure on Rams quarterback Case Keenum will be important for the defense finally producing turnovers. The Bucs will be without one of their top pass rushers today, as defensive end Robert Ayers sits this one out nursing an ankle injury. Linebacker Lavonte David and defensive back Ryan Smith are both listed as questionable, but both have been practicing in full and should be good to go. The probable designation was removed this season, otherwise they would more than likely be under that title.
Be sure to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Los Angeles Rams from Raymond James Stadium at 4:05 P.M. Unable to watch? Make sure to follow @thescrumsports on Twitter to get lives tweets during the game.
*Unrelated to the game, The Scrum Sports is saddened to learn of the news that Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez has passed away in a boating accident last night. A great person and fantastic ball player thoughts today will be with his family, as the baseball world mourns the loss of one of it’s most promising stars.
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