All eyes will be on SoFi Stadium Sunday afternoon as the reigning Super Bowl Champions come to town. The Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both present some of the most electrifying offenses in the league, and each of those will be put to the test as they go stride-for-stride with one another in Week 3.
Here are three matchups that will determine Sunday's contest between the Rams and Bucs:
WR Mike Evans/Chris Godwin vs. CB Jalen Ramsey
Evans, one of the better big-body receivers in the league will square off against one of the better cover corners in Ramsey when he lines up along the boundary. Ramsey should primarily see action against Evans, but may also see looks against Godwin when he moves into the slot cornerback alignment throughout the game as he's done periodically in weeks one and two. On the other side, Evans and Godwin should receive more targets with wide receiver Antonio Brown expected to miss the game due to COVID-19 protocols. Focusing on Evans, he experienced a lackluster start to the season but bounced back last week, posting 75 total yards and two touchdowns. Ramsey has posted eight tackles and secured the game-clinching interception in Week 2 against the Colts. Aside from defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Ramsey will be the center of attention as the Bucs look to identify where he's lining up prior to each offensive play.
Buccaneers' pass rush vs. Rams' offensive line
The Bucs pass rush has been a force to be reckoned with the past couple of seasons. This Sunday, it could look slightly different with outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul ruled out due to a shoulder injury. Stepping into Pierre Paul's role will be Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, the Buccaneers first-round pick out of the University of Washington. Opposite of Tryon-Shoyinka will be Shaq Barrett, one of the game's better pass rushers who's posted 27.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Facing them will be Rams tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein. Both tackles have graded well to start the season and were named PFF's top 32 Offensive tackles prior to the 2021 campaign getting underway. If the offensive line can hold up against the pass rush, quarterback Matthew Stafford could have plenty of time in the pocket.
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TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Rams Safeties
There is no better connection in the red zone than quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The duo has cemented themselves with the second most quarterback to receiver touchdowns, and they've already linked up for four scores this season. Safeties Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp are expected to face Gronkowski in what could be a matchup the Bucs look to exploit. At 6'6", Gronkowski creates a matchup nightmare for smaller safeties and as Fuller (6' 2") and Rapp (6'0"), are put into coverage, they may require help from additional defenders in order to slow down the future Hall of Fame tight end. In what projects to be a higher scoring matchup, containing Gronkowski in the red zone will be essential for the Rams secondary.