This week's matchup between the Bucs and Rams has a ton of star power. Both rosters are littered with some of the game's best players at their respective positions.
Don't count out the not-so-famous players, though. They can have just as big an impact as one of the top dogs on any given Sunday.
But enough of the rambling. Which Bucs should you keep an eye on this weekend?
3. WR Chris Godwin
It's going to be very interesting to see how the Rams defend Godwin on Sunday. Godwin is the Bucs' main slot receiver, but he can also play outside. Will the absence of Antonio Brown cause him to play on the perimeter more often than not? The Bucs have alternative outside options in Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson, but with all due respect, those guys aren't on the same level as Godwin.
If Godwin does in fact play outside more often, he'll likely line up across from Darious Williams, who is a very good corner in his own right. He could even see Jalen Ramsey from time-to-time, considering that Ramsey has played the most slot snaps out of any corner on the Rams' roster.
Ramsey should shadow Mike Evans for most of the game. So who lines up on Godwin if he's in the slot and Evans is on the outside? And more importantly: how effective will they be?
Godwin, who is 6-foot-1, 209-pounds has a size and speed advantage on Williams, who is 5-foot-9, 187-pounds. Williams has registered the second-most snaps in the slot, however, so that just adds another layer to the situation. It helps the Rams play a lot of zone. They don't necessarily have to put one guy on Godwin at all times.
The Bucs use Godwin in all sorts of ways on the field. He's essentially the Bucs version of Cooper Kupp. He had a solid day with seven receptions for 53 and a touchdown on 10 targets when these two teams met last year. One can expect him to have another big role in this game.
2. G Ali Marpet/G Alex Cappa
Marpet and Cappa will square off against the one and only Aaron Donald and how they perform will certainly be something to watch.
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has been moving Donald all around the defensive line of scrimmage this year. Per Pro Football Focus, he's taken snaps at seven different positions that include left nose tackle, defensive left/right tackle, left/right defensive end, and left/right open side end (LEO/REO). He's even take one snap at left inside linebacker.
But Donald mostly lines up at the left/right defensive end position. In the Rams defense, that's usually the 3-tech or whichever position is shaded more toward the guard(s). PFF has him at 35 snaps at left defensive end and 34 snaps at right defensive end, so he'll be going up against both Marpet and Cappa on a frequent basis.
Marpet played a very solid game against Donald in 2019. He missed 2020, but the Bucs still did a good job as an overall unit against the Rams pass rush. Marpet is one of the league's top guards and it will be interesting to see if he can repeat his 2019 success or if Donald gets the better of him this time around.
Cappa is more of the unknown, here. Donald had a lot of success in Week 2 against Colts right guard Mark Glowinski and backup right tackle Julien Davenport. Cappa and Bucs right tackle Tristan Wirfs are a more effective duo on the right side, but Cappa will be see Donald in 1-on-1 situations and how he handles that will be a key factor in this game. Cappa can struggle with power, which is one of the many fortes of Donald's.
Something to keep in mind is that the Bucs aren't allowing other Rams to make plays in order to keep Donald at bay. The Rams defense had just 16 overall pressures and one sack against the Bucs last year. Per PFF, they averaged a tad over 18 pressures and 3.5 sacks per game in the other 15 games. That all starts up front. With these two, specifically.
1. QB Tom Brady
I try to stray away from the low-hanging fruit such as Brady, but it's OK to put him here for this game. Because the Bucs' success depends entirely on Brady in this game.
As long as the Bucs keep him upright, he will have a good game, but how good of a game he has is what's important. He didn't have a very good game last year and the Bucs lost by three points. That is not a direct correlation, but it's logical to assume the better game he has, the better the Buccaneers chances are at winning the game.
The big difference between last year and this year is this Bucs offense -especially Brady- is so much more in synch. It was talked about all offseason long and you can easily see it through these first two weeks.
Brady will also have this team ready and focused, which will go a long in way in helping the Bucs potentially win this game. The one thing to worry about is his lack of mobility. The Rams had Carson Wentz dead to rights a few times last week, but he was able to escape thanks to his legs. Brady won't be able to do that.
But if the offensive line keeps him propped up as discussed earlier, then Brady will have his typical game. Which is always something to watch.
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