Coming off a brutal 32-31 loss to the New York Giants last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) can only recover by getting back on the field and redeeming themselves.
Such a task, however, will be made a lot tougher with the Buccaneers traveling across the country to face the undefeated Los Angeles Rams (3-0), whom are coming off a narrow victory over the Cleveland Browns that was featured on Sunday Night Football.
This game will not be on primetime, but does provide an opportunity for Tampa Bay to even its regular season record at 2-2 and possibly for kicker Matt Gay to regain his confidence. Gay missed what would have been the winning 34-yard field goal attempt that ended up nudging wide right.
What was more tough about the loss was the step back the Buccaneers’ defense took after two straight weeks of looking like a formidable unit under the direction of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. The Buccaneers’ defense will be on high alert facing a potent Rams’ attack that features quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley.
The main threat at wide receiver is the always seemingly wide open Cooper Kupp, who has 23 catches for 267 yards on the season. Los Angeles also has other weapons to watch out for, with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods as targets for Goff as well.
Tampa Bay’s youthful secondary will be hard pressed to slow down the Rams’ receivers, but hope is the defensive line can get to Goff before he finds open targets. The play of linebacker Shaquille Barrett and Carl Nassib have impressed many of those around the league, with Barrett leading the NFL in sacks with eight so far. Barrett recorded four sacks last week versus the Giants and could be in for another big day.
Also needing to have a big day is quarterback Jameis Winston, who did look good in last week’s loss to the Giants. The 5th year pivot threw for 380 yards, three touchdowns and turned over the ball once on an interception. Many believe some of the lack of passing in the second half came via Winston’s turnover, but Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians rebuttal was against that notion.
Arians and first-year offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich have been relying more on the run game as of late, with Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber both providing solid production in the backfield. The duo combined for 128 yards on the ground. Jones went off for 80 yards and could see increased carries if his production continues to trend upwards.
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