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Divisional Round Betting Odds, Trends, Breakdown and Pick: Rams-Buccaneers

Analysis and a best bet for Sunday's divisional round matchup featuring the NFC West champion Rams against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

This NFL divisional-round matchup kicks off on Sunday afternoon when Tom Brady and the NFC South champion Buccaneers play host to Matthew Stafford and the NFC West champion Rams.

No. 4 Los Angeles enters the second round of the playoffs fresh off an impressive 34-11 win over Arizona in the wild-card round. The Rams, who improved to 13-5 Straight-Up (SU) following the playoff victory, are still only a pedestrian 9-9 Against The Spread (ATS). Los Angeles has been a solid investment for bettors over their last seven games, posting a 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS mark, including three consecutive road wins away from SoFi Stadium.

No. 2 Tampa Bay, despite missing several key offensive weapons, did not miss a beat in their 31-15 playoff win over Philadelphia as 7.5-point home favorites. The Buccaneers, who have now won the most games of any team in the NFL this season with a 14-4 SU record, have returned a small profit for NFL bettors with a 10-8 ATS mark.

The questions bettors must answer in this matchup boils down to this: Can Matthew Stafford avoid making any ‘critical’ mistakes against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that ranks fourth in the league in takeaways (29)? Or will key injuries at several vital positions derail the Buccaneers’ hopes to repeat as Super Bowl champions?

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In Week 3, when the two clubs met in the regular season, the Rams earned a 34-24 win as 1-point home underdogs. Oddsmakers have not made any adjustments to their September power rankings, continuing to install Tampa Bay as favorites for Sunday’s second meeting between these two NFC foes.

Jan 16, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium.

No. 4 LA Rams (13-5 SU, 9-9 ATS) at No. 2 Tampa Bay (14-4 SU, 10-8 ATS)

Spread: Los Angeles +3 (-110) | Tampa Bay -3 (-110)
Moneyline: Los Angeles (+125) | Tampa Bay (-150)
Total: 48.5– Over (-110) | Under 48.5 (-110)
Public (Spread) Betting Percentages: LAR 47% | TB 53%
Game Info: Sunday Jan. 23, 2022 3 pm EST | NBC

Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change

The line has ticked up since the opener of Tampa Bay (14-4 SU; 10-8 ATS) as 2.5-point home favorites over Los Angeles (13-5 SU; 9-9 ATS) to a full 3-point demand at SI Sportsbook. The total which opened at 48 has risen a half-point off strong public money backing the over. In the first meeting, the two clubs combined for 58 points, and bettors are envisioning a high-scoring affair once again in the rematch.

Tom Brady once again was superb in last week’s playoff win over the Eagles, completing 78% of his passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns - despite missing star offensive players Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette. Brady, who led the NFL in passing yards (5,316) and passing touchdowns (43) in the regular season, will face a Rams defense that ranked fifth in passing yards, only allowing 273.1 yards per game. In the first matchup, Brady threw for a season-high 432 passing yards and a touchdown, adding 14 rushing yards and a rushing score.

Tampa Bay will once again be dependent on strong production from wideout Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game. Evans, who finished second among all wideouts in receiving touchdowns (14) in the regular season, led the club with nine receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown last week against Philadelphia. In fact, since returning from a hamstring injury three weeks ago, the veteran has stepped up his production as Brady’s top target with 19 receptions and four touchdowns. Evans grabbed a team-high eight receptions for 106 yards in the first meeting with Los Angeles. Evans is among only seven opposing wideouts the Rams defense has allowed to surpass 100-yard receiving yards this season. In addition, Los Angeles kept Tampa Bay wide receivers out of the end zone in the first meeting and have only surrendered a total of 10 passing touchdowns to opposing wideouts all season.

Gronkowski, who scored two touchdowns in last year’s Super Bowl win over Kansas City, picked up right where he left off in the wild-card win over the Eagles, grabbing his 15th postseason touchdown from Tom Brady. The dependable tight end, who has 94 receptions for 1,304 yards in 21 career playoff games, will likely be a big part of the offensive game plan for the Buccaneers on Sunday. The veteran will be a popular DFS target against a Rams secondary that will be without safety Jordan Fuller (ankle) and potentially Taylor Rapp (concussion). As we know, no one in league history is better at exploiting an opponent’s weakness than Tom Brady, so expect both Gronkowski and Cameron Brate to be targeted down the seam against a banged-up Los Angeles back end. 

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On the ground, the Buccaneers are hopeful running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) can return to the lineup. The veteran, who has been out since Week 15, is a key component of the Tampa Bay offense. In the first matchup between the two clubs in Week 3, the Buccaneers abandoned the run, only rushing the ball 13 times for a mere 35 rushing yards. If Tom Brady, the team’s leading rusher in the first matchup, again leads the club in that category on Sunday, Los Angeles will be moving on to the NFC Championship. In Fournette and Ronald Jones’s absence, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard contributed 145 total yards and two touchdowns last week against Philadelphia.

Matthew Stafford was efficient, completing 76% of his passes in last week’s wild-card win over the Cardinals. Stafford, who finished third in the NFL in passing yards (4,886) and second in passing touchdowns (41) in the regular season, was not asked to do much throwing the ball a season-low 17 times. On Sunday, the veteran will face a Tampa Bay defense that has surrendered the fifth-fewest points per game (20.8). Stafford torched the Tampa Bay secondary in the first meeting with the Buccaneers, throwing for season-highs in passing yards (343) and touchdowns (4).

In the passing game, Cooper Kupp led all wideouts in the regular season in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16). Kupp was the biggest key in the Week 3 win over Tampa Bay, hauling in nine receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns. In recent weeks, Los Angeles has incorporated Odell Beckham, Van Jefferson, and tight end Tyler Higbee, into the aerial attack. Beckham, who has caught a touchdown in six of nine games since being acquired from the Browns, opened the scoring in last week’s wild-card win over Arizona when he snagged a four-yard touchdown in his first career playoff game.

cam-akers-rams

The Rams rushing attack, which has previously been reliant upon veteran Sony Michel, received a massive boost from the return of Cam Akers (Achilles). Akers, who produced 95 yards from scrimmage last week, ran hard and looked explosive in his first game action of the season. The Rams will need the tandem of Akers and Michel to establish a strong ground game to dominate time of possession, resulting in keeping Brady on the sidelines.

The Buccaneers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games at Raymond James Stadium. In addition, Tom Brady is 24-7 in his career at home in the playoffs. Overall, it is far from a wise investment to try and fade the Hall of Fame-bound signal-caller who is 8-1 SU in his last nine playoff games (including two Super Bowl wins). However, injuries can be the biggest equalizer. Facing the prospects of missing starting center Ryan Jensen (back) and star offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle) could be a serious issue for the Buccaneers’ ability to protect Brady against a Rams front seven led by Aaron Donald. Wirfs, who is in a walking boot, would be a massive loss for a Tampa Bay offense without skill position stars Chris Godwin, Ronald Jones and potentially Fournette. If Jalen Ramsey can lock down Mike Evans, without the threat or Chris Godwin or Antonio Brown, the Rams front seven could take advantage of the banged-up offensive line forcing Brady off his spot early and often. Let’s grab the points in this showdown.

BET: Los Angeles +3 (-110)

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Wild-card weekend did not get off on the right foot as the Raiders (+6) came up a few yards shy of back-dooring the Bengals, and the Cowboys (-3) could not overcome tying the NFL record for most penalties (14) in a playoff game against the 49ers. The two total plays went 0-1-1 as Buffalo crushed my under (44) wager - playing a ‘flawless’ offensive game against New England, while a late two-point conversion by Philadelphia took my under wager (46) from a win to a push. My weekend closed out strong as Kansas City (-12.5) dominated as my lock of the weekend and the Rams (-4) came through in solid fashion, hammering the Cardinals.

2021 SI Betting Monday Night Football: 9-8 ATS / Props 16-12 +5.75 units
2021 SI Betting Playoffs: 2-3-1 ATS -1.30 units
2021 SI Betting NFL Football Overall YTD: 47-40-1 ATS & Props +9.82 units
2020 SI Betting NFL Football: 72-58-1 ATS (55%)

Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst who provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.

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