Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers overcome issues in primetime this year against one of the NFL's best defenses? It won't be an easy feat, but last week's 46-point dismantling of the Carolina Panthers should give fans some optimism that the Bucs can handle the Los Angeles Rams at home.
Vegas believes the game will be close, but sees Tampa Bay coming out on top. OddsShark considers the Bucs as the 4.5-point favorite over L.A., with an over/under set at 48 points.
How does the Sports Illustrated-AllBucs staff see the game going? Check out our predictions below.
Zach Goodall: Buccaneers 28, Rams 24
This game features two of the NFC's best defenses, but I'm going to give the offensive-minded head coaches the benefit of the doubt and take the over for this game.
Tom Brady, Ronald Jones, and the entire Bucs' offense bounced back from a miserable Week 9 showing with a 46-point, 544-yard performance against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday. We know this offense is capable of such performances considering its firepower, and this will arguably the biggest prove-it test of the season. Meanwhile, the Rams have allowed 3+ touchdown passes in a game twice this season, not too lofty of a goal for Brady to reach.
The biggest issue will likely be defending an up-tempo Rams' offensive attack, as quarterback Jared Goff has numerous quality receiving options, and head coach Sean McVay is an innovative play caller. We saw Tampa struggle against a quick-paced Panthers offense to begin last week's game, as Teddy Bridgewater began his day with 13 straight completions for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
No, the Bucs haven't done well in primetime this year and I get that being a concern. However, head coach Bruce Arians switched the practice schedule around accordingly and you'd expect the extra preparation to reap some benefits.
This one is close from start to finish, but I like the Bucs putting together an impressive, balanced, late touchdown drive to take the lead and seal a win.
Jason Beede: Buccaneers 21, Rams 17
The Los Angeles Rams have held opponents to a mere 18.7 points per game while the Buccaneers have only allowed 22.6 points per game. Obviously, both of these teams have great defenses so I expect this one to be low scoring.
As a matter of fact, these two defenses have done a great job this season stopping the run. With that in mind, I think this game will come down to the quarterback play. Tom Brady vs. Jared Goff. Which quarterback will overcome a tough pass rush and be able to avoid mistakes?
Goff struggled against the Seattle Seahawks and didn't throw a touchdown. The week prior in a loss to Miami, Goff threw two interceptions. Meanwhile, Brady threw three touchdowns last week at Carolina and three interceptions the week before vs. the Saints. While the run attack did have success against a good rushing defense in the Panthers, I think the Rams will do a better job of slowing down Ronald Jones and not allow big plays.
In the end, it feels like Brady is due for an impressive performance in primetime games and this could be a statement win for Tampa Bay. Last week the offense was on a roll as Brady and his receivers seemed to be more on the same page compared to previous games. Brady keeps the ball rolling and the Bucs escape a defensive battle close at home 21-17 over the Rams.
Donovan Keiser: Buccaneers 24, Rams 21
In a defensive slugfest, I expect the Bucs to finally show up and execute after weeks of underwhelming play against the Giants and Saints. Tampa Bay looked to be back to its old self last week against Carolina, but it will take a full team effort to match up against the 6-3 Rams.
The main concern I have comes from the offensive line, especially as left guard Ali Marpet has been ruled out again. The Rams have one of the best defenses in the league, both against the pass and the run, which may cause trouble if the offensive line can't contain Aaron Donald and the rest of the dangerous Rams front seven. If they can contain the Rams rush and give Brady time, the Bucs should have no issues moving the ball, especially on play-action.
On the other side, Tampa Bay's defense must come to play if the Bucs want to exit with a win on Monday night. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles should key on the left side of the Rams' line as starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth went down last week with a knee injury and won't return for the rest of the season. Whitworth has been an anchor on the Rams' OL who will be tough to replace, which is why Bowles should send pressure to that side to get to Jared Goff's blindside.