Los Angeles at Tampa Bay prediction, game preview, how to watch: NFL Divisional Round Preview
Tampa Bay vs Los Angeles How To Watch
Date: Sunday, January 23
Game Time: 3:00 ET
Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
How To Watch: NBC
Record: Los Angeles (12-5), Tampa Bay (13-4)
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Tampa Bay vs Los Angeles Divisional Round Game Preview
Why Los Angeles Will Win the NFC Divisional Round
1) The Rams aren’t the Eagles, and 2) the Rams are healthy and the Buccaneers aren’t.
Los Angeles and Tampa Bay had little drama in their respective Wild Card blowout wins, but the Rams got out relatively unscathed while the already dinged Buccaneers didn’t have running backs Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones – Fournette is still questionable for this – and might have lost star O linemen Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen to ankle injuries.
The Los Angeles defensive line was just okay at getting into the backfield against Kyler Murray and an Arizona team that couldn’t get anything going, but it was fantastic against the run and generated a few sacks.
Philadelphia wasn’t able to do much of anything offensively, and the defense was run over early on, but Tom Brady got sacked four times and was pressured just enough to be annoying. Now Aaron Donald and Von Miller get to have their say.
In the first meeting back in Week 3 – at 34-24 Ram win – Brady went off for 432 yards, but the ground game didn’t do anything with just 35 yards, and Chris Godwin – who’s now out for the year – played a big role.
NEXT: Why Tampa Bay Will Win the NFC Divisional Round
Why Tampa Bay Will Win the NFC Divisional Round
Just how sure are you that what we saw against Arizona was for real?
Matthew Stafford might have been solid, but can he produce in the playoffs when he’s getting pressured by a defensive front that’s about to live in the backfield like Tampa Bay’s D will?
Can the offense work like it’s supposed to when the ground attack isn’t averaging 6.6 yards per carry like it did last week? It was fine in the first meeting when the running game was limited and didn’t bust off any big runs, but the Buccaneer run defense is third in the league – few teams run because everyone has to throw to keep up.
Can the Ram defense hang with a real passing game? It’s not like Arizona was bad throwing the ball – it was seventh in the NFL – but without DeAndre Hopkins, it didn’t have a Mike Evans, and Kyler Murray isn’t Tom Brady in the pocket.
Los Angeles got hit hard by the San Francisco passing attack in the Week 18 loss, it had a difficult time against Kirk Cousins and the Vikings in the Week 16 fight, and yeah, Murray and Arizona went off in Week 14 when it had Hopkins and used James Conner as a key part of the fun.
If Brady can go for 400 – if he needs to – like he did in the first meeting, the playoff version of the Buccaneer defense should be able to take care of the rest.
NEXT: What’s Going To Happen, Who’s Going To Win the NFC Divisional Round
What’s Going To Happen, Who’s Going To Win the NFC Divisional Round
When was the last time Tampa Bay faced a fully loaded team with the offensive balance the Rams are bringing?
Philadelphia certainly didn’t have that, and neither did Carolina in the two late-season meetings. The Jets and Saints were a tad limited, too. The Bucs deals with Buffalo in Week 14 back in mid-December – they won in overtime, but they gave up 466 yards of total offense.
If you want to include the Colts in that balanced offense mix from back in Week 12, Tampa Bay has only dealt with a strong all-around attack twice since facing the Rams back in Week 3.
Brady will go Brady. He’ll spread the ball around, he’ll come up with a brilliant game, and he’ll have the running attack to help the cause. However, the Rams’ star-studded defense will take over for stretches after an early Tampa Bay scoring surge.
The Buccaneer defensive front will hold up just fine against Sony Michel and Cam Akers, and it’ll pressure Matthew Stafford enough to keep the deep plays from happening like they did in the first meeting. But the Rams will come up with the offense that Philadelphia didn’t and couldn’t.
It’ll be a fun fight, and Tampa Bay will never be out of it, but the 2021 Rams appear to be ready to play the role of the 2021 Buccaneers in these playoffs.
Los Angeles vs Tampa Bay Divisional Round Prediction, Line
Los Angeles 27, Tampa Bay 24
Line: Tampa Bay -3, o/u: 48.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Must See Rating: 5
5: Jackass Forever
1: KFC Beyond Fried Chicken