Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Matchup Preview (9/26/21): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Matchup Preview (9/26/21)
We rarely get a matchup this early season that feels like a Conference Championship preview, but I believe these are the two best teams in the NFC. The Buccaneers, of course, are the defending Super Bowl Champions and have brought back every single starter from last season. The Rams, meanwhile, got a significant upgrade at quarterback from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford and maintained one of the best rosters in the NFL top-to-bottom. I’ll be in attendance for this heavyweight bout on Sunday, and I’m thrilled to see what these two teams bring to the table in search of an early-season statement win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Betting Odds
There are many parallels between these two contenders, the most relevant of which should be the lack of a run game for both sides. With Darrell Henderson injured, the Rams will struggle to run the ball in the toughest matchup for rushing offenses in the NFL. Meanwhile, Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette have been unexciting to start the season. Of course, everyone will be talking about the matchup between the quarterbacks in Brady and Stafford in this game. Brady’s offensive support will be a little lighter than usual as Antonio Brown will likely miss this game while Stafford gets his best friend Cooper Kupp at full strength against a beatable secondary. The Buccaneers have the better consistency, but the loss of AB and the Rams playing at home in the new SoFi Stadium is enough for me to give Los Angeles a slight edge. This game could really go either way, though, and if anyone tells you they know what to expect, they are lying to you.
My predictions: Rams win 27-24, Rams cover, under 55.5 points
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Date: Sunday, September 26th
Time: 1:25 PM ET
Location: SoFi Stadium – Los Angeles, CA
TV Coverage: FOX
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Live Stream
Where can you watch Buccaneers vs. Rams online? You can stream this game, and many other NFL games live online with Hulu. Hulu has a 7 Day free trial and is cheaper than cable options at $5.99/month. Watch Buccaneers vs. Rams Free Online Now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) Q, WR Antonio Brown (illness) IR – COVID-19, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (elbow) IR
Los Angeles Rams: OLB Leonard Floyd (ankle) Q, RB Darrell Henderson (ribs) Q, RB Cam Akers (Achilles) IR
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis
Tom Brady’s start to the season has to be unsustainable, right? The 44-year-old quarterback has thrown for nine touchdowns through two games this season – that’s a whole season pace of 76.5 passing touchdowns. It has to be noted that he’s faced the Falcons and Cowboys, two of the worst defenses in the NFL from a year ago, but he deserves credit for a red-hot start to the year. This week, Brady faces the Rams’ defense that allowed the fewest passing touchdowns and the fewest passing yards last season. While Los Angeles lost Troy Hill and John Johnson in free agency, two key starters from 2020, they have seen ancillary defenders step up this season. Brady will have his work cut out for him in this matchup.
The Buccaneers will likely be without Antonio Brown in this game as the veteran wide receiver tested positive for COVID-19 and is unlikely to play in this game. In his likely absence, the Buccaneers will hope for more production from Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. Of course, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin would step up in the receiving game. However, one of those two will be matched up with Jalen Ramsey, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, for most of the afternoon. Darious Williams, who is very good in his own right, will draw the other receiver across from Ramsey. Rob Gronkowski has four touchdowns through two games, two in each game, and while that pace is unlikely to continue, he’ll be an integral part of the game plan this week.
Tampa Bay will also need to figure out how to slow down a potent Rams’ pass rush featuring Aaron Donald, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. The Buccaneers’ offensive line provides tons of continuity and consistency as the same five-person unit that played most last season remains in place. In particular, Alex Cappa (who missed most of the team’s postseason run to the Super Bowl) draws a fascinating matchup against Donald. While this offensive line is nothing but solid, I have concerns about Tampa’s ability to move the ball on the ground against a stout front seven as Ronald Jones has disappointed this season while Leonard Fournette is decent but unspectacular.
The Buccaneers do have a defense that will be capable of forcing the Rams to move the ball through the air as they have had one of the best, if not the best, run defense in the NFL over the past several years. With Darrell Henderson injured and potentially inactive, Matthew Stafford should have many passing attempts in this game. Mike Edwards has been the surprise on the defense so far, and he had two pick-sixes last week. However, the Buccaneers’ lack of consistent cornerback play is concerning, particularly in the continued absence of Sean Murphy-Bunting.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Depth Chart
Los Angeles Rams Analysis
Matthew Stafford was excellent in his Rams debut, and while he wasn’t quite as good in Week 2, he has enjoyed his first year in Los Angeles. Stafford has completed 69.6% of his passes for 599 yards and five touchdowns through two games – that’s a 17-game pace of over 5,000 passing yards and 42.5 touchdowns. Stafford looks like he has been playing under Sean McVay for several years, not several months, and it’s refreshing to know that he was the high-level talent we all thought he was as he spent years toiling away in Detroit. The Buccaneers are without Sean Murphy-Bunting for the time being and have a beatable secondary which Stafford should succeed against.
While many players, coaches, and fans have enjoyed the arrival of Stafford in LA, I don’t think anyone has been happier than Cooper Kupp. So far through two games, he has caught 16 balls for 271 yards and three touchdowns as he has shown excellent chemistry with his new quarterback. Robert Woods has trailed behind with just 13 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, but he could also break out in this game. I doubt Woods has such a disproportionate stat line to Kupp all season. Van Jefferson, DeSean Jackson, and Tyler Higbee round out a solid receiving corps.
I’ve been impressed with the Rams’ offensive line so far this season as Andrew Whitworth continues to long outlive what I thought his NFL expiration date would be. Rob Havenstein has provides strong play at the other tackle spot while Austin Corbett, David Edwards, and Brian Allen provide consistency in the middle of the offensive line. LA faces a tenacious Buccaneers’ pass rush, but I have enough faith in the offensive line to give Stafford time to figure out how to move the ball against a beatable secondary. The Rams will likely struggle to run the ball in this game, however, as Darrell Henderson is banged up, and Tampa features the best defensive line in the NFL.
Aaron Donald has been excellent for the Rams so far this season, and he got the better of Quenton Nelson in their highly-anticipated matchup last week. Leonard Floyd has provided an excellent complimentary pass rush across from him, while Troy Reeder, Justin Hollins, and Greg Gaines have all contributed in that respect, as well. Taylor Rapp, Jordan Fuller, and Robert Rochell have stepped up to round out the Rams’ secondary alongside the stout cornerback duo of Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams.
Los Angeles Rams Depth Chart
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Daily Fantasy Picks
The loss of Antonio Brown presents an interesting DFS situation for the Buccaneers as both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have higher floors than they usually would. However, they will see their fair share of coverage from the elite Jalen Ramsey this week, which limits each of their respective upsides. Rob Gronkowski remains one of the best options at tight end for this week. Cooper Kupp remains one of the best values in DFS formats as Stafford’s clear-cut favorite target for the Rams. He should succeed against a limited, injured Bucs secondary. I also would have some intrigue in Sony Michel as a low-cost GPP flier if Darrell Henderson cannot play. I’m not thrilled about either quarterback’s upside in a matchup with a tough defense, but both are acceptable targets, particularly in cash lineups where baseline matters more than upside.