- The Los Angeles Rams are 3-point road underdogs vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Divisional Playoff
- LA beat Tampa 34-24 in Week 3 this season
- Read below for odds, analysis and a betting prediction
In year 13, Matthew Stafford finally picked up career playoff win number one, as his Rams thumped the Arizona Cardinals.
As they continue their quest to get to the Super Bowl in their home stadium, he’ll have to best the NFL’s version of the final boss in the Divisional Round, when LA visits Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The defending Super Bowl champions made quick work of the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round, but they’re short some major parts on offense against a Rams defense that’s been a wrecking ball the last two weeks.
Still, oddsmakers pegged the home team as 3-point favorites for their Sunday tilt from Raymond James Stadium. It all gets started at 3pm ET, and you can watch it live on NBC.
Rams vs Buccaneers Odds
|Los Angeles Rams||+3 (-115)||+125||O 48 (-108)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-3 (-105)||-155||U 48 (-113)|
Odds as of Jan 22 at Barstool Sportsbook
Tampa Bay Recent Results and Injury Report
Things went business as usual for Brady and company in a 31-15 win over the Eagles. Brady was a ho-hum 29-for-37 for 271 yards and a pair of TD tosses, one to Mike Evans and the other to Rob Gronkowski.
— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2022
Those will be his most reliable targets the rest of the way, as receivers Chris Godwin has a knee injury and Antonio Brown was released. Other skill position players are down too, with WR Breshad Perriman (hip/abdomen) a no-go. Ditto RB Ronald Jones, who has an ankle injury.
Running back Leonard Fournette’s status is also up in the air — he’ll need to be activated off IR later today to play Sunday. Fournette, who led the team with 812 rush yards and eight TD’s, has been dealing with a hamstring injury.
Asked about the swelling that is in RT Tristan Wirfs injured ankle, Bruce Arians joked that Wrifs legs are so damn big in the first place it’s hard to even tell.
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 21, 2022
Perhaps the biggest hit is on their offensive line: hulking left tackle Tristan Wirfs and center Ryan Jensen both suffered ankle injuries in last week’s win, and will be game-time decisions.
Probably not the best time for the O-line to get dinged up, as they’re playing a Rams defense has been relentless as of late. Against the Cards, they sacked Kyler Murray twice and picked him off twice, taking one back for a score.
The first sack in the playoffs for Von Miller since Super Bowl 50 where he was MVP 💪
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 18, 2022
LA’s defensive line of Aaron Donald (a perennial favorite for NFL Defensive Player of the Year), Leonard Floyd and Von Miller are virtually unblockable vs a healthy front.
While Miller wasn’t around in Week 3, the Rams sacked Brady three times in a 34-24 win. Unable to run the ball (35 yards on 13 carries), Brady threw for 432 yards and a TD, but needed 55 attempts to get there. That’s not the balance they’re looking for.
Los Angeles Key Offensive Players
Perhaps the best news in LA’s 34-11 win over the Cardinals was Stafford not turning the ball over. After throwing eight interceptions in his last four regular season games, Stafford was an efficient 13-for-17 for 202 yards and two TD passes, and running in another.
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) January 18, 2022
We all know the Rams love to air it out, but they’re at their best when they’re also running the ball, to keep defenses honest. The duo of Cam Akers and Sony Michel provided that in the Wild Card round, totalling 113 yards on 30 carries.
If they can establish the run against a stout Buccaneers defense (third overall vs the rush), Stafford will have a better chance at taking shots down the field. Cooper Kupp had a quiet playoff opener by his standards, but still hauled in five balls for 61 yards and a score.
Peyton was pumped after predicting this Cooper Kupp TD 🔮 pic.twitter.com/9uRr0Y3zQz
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 18, 2022
Odell Beckam Jr continued his strong play since joining the squad midseason, catching four passes for 54 yards and a TD, while showing off the arm with a 40-yard strike to Akers on a gadget play.
The biggest concern, however, is along their offensive line, where left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the less-heralded of the two 40-year-olds still playing in the NFL, is out with knee and ankle injuries. He suffered the injury on LA’s first offensive snap against ‘Zona.
Rams vs Buccaneers Pick
It feels like sacrilege betting against Tom Brady in the playoffs — did you know he’s got more playoff wins and passing yards than all other seven QBs in the divisional round combined? Somehow, the 44-year-old is still a legit candidate in the latest 2022 NFL MVP odds.
However, the Rams’ defense has the parts to stall this back-to-back title run. And the offense to match them score for score.
The Rams had 50 sacks in the regular season and 19 total interceptions, good for third in each category. Tampa’s line gave up only 23 sacks (2nd), making Brady one of the cleanest QB in the NFL this year, but that line may be limited Sunday.
Who wins this face-off? 🍿
— NFL (@NFL) January 21, 2022
Tampa’s usual offensive arsenal would mean there’d be mismatches all over the field to exploit, but LA can now stick all-pro Jalen Ramsey onto Evans and then roll extra coverage over to Gronk.
The Bucs are going to do their best to rattle Stafford. NFL research says Tampa sent a blitz at the 2nd-highest rate this season at 38.1%. This year, Stafford feasted vs the blitz, producing an NFL best 141.8 passer rating.
His decision-making under pressure will likely determine how the Rams do against the Bucs.
I don’t know if LA makes it to SoFi for the Super Bowl, but I think they’re still playing after Sunday.
Pick: Rams +3 (-115)