After two fairly smooth victories, coach Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams face off against the ageless quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.
Here are three storylines to watch as the two team's prepare for Sunday's contest:
1. Who is RB1?
Running back's Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel have each produced for the Rams offense thus far. Obviously, given the talent that quarterback Matthew Stafford has, which even coach Bruce Arians recognizes, the L.A. rushers can be put on the backburner when the Rams rely on throwing the deep ball.
“He's one of the most talented guys that I've ever seen," Arians said of Stafford, who spent the past 12 seasons in Detroit. "He can make every single throw on the field, and with ease. He can stretch you in all kinds of ways, horizontally and vertically. You have to be in a great position defensively to stop him,” said Arians.
But, the McVay offense is centered around the running game. With Henderson questionable due to a rib injury, Michel could be the main option on Sunday. The status of the running back room could be key in keeping Brady off the field and ensuring McVay has his full game plan at his disposal. Tampa Bay can score the ball in bunches, and Stafford will have to use every weapon at his disposal to keep up.
2. Who steps up if Antonio Brown is out?
Brown has been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his game status in jeopardy. Although tight end Rob Gronkowski has been the most dominant Bucs pass-catcher so far, Brown has not been far behind. Yes, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are incredibly talented receivers, but the Rams have the cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams and David Long Jr. to keep up.
The loss of Brown allows for defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to continue floating Ramsey in the “star” playmaking position that has been so successful. If the Bucs want to continue their 39 points per game average, running back's Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones will have to support Gronkowski, Evans and Godwin.
3. Can the Rams’ Top 5 Defense stop the Bucs?
This is the best matchup the NFL has seen thus far. Two firepower offenses against two defenses that have proven the ability to force turnovers. After playing the Bears and the Colts, who don't exactly correlate to Tampa Bay’s prowess, L.A. will have their hands full here. Ramsey and Aaron Donald will have to wreak havoc across the board as they've done through two weeks. If Ramsey can create at least one turnover and Donald can apply consistent pressure, the Rams should be set up nicely to win this game as a result of getting Brady off his initial spot.
Season Records: Rams (2-0), Bucs (2-0)
Previous Meeting: Rams defeated Bucs on November 23, 2020, in a 27-24 game.
Sean McVay Says Matthew Stafford Has Been Better Than Expected Despite High Expectations
Matthew Stafford has been better than Sean McVay initially thought even with expectations of him being a superior player prior to trading for him.
CB Dont'e Deayon Made Strong Impression on Sean McVay in Season Debut
Rams coach Sean McVay came away impressed with cornerback Dont'e Deayon's first look at live action against the Giants.
Rams Sign DB Grant Haley, TE Jared Pinkney to Practice Squad | Team Tracker
The Rams have signed two players to their practice squad on Wednesday.
Odds: Bucs -1.5
Stat: This will be Tom Brady’s first game in Los Angeles
Keep An Eye On: How effective will the Rams' running game be if running back Darrell Henderson is unable to play. Will they turn into a one-dimensional offense or will Sony Michel answer the call?
Rams' Key To Victory: Own the time of possession, keeping the ball out of the hands of Brady and co.
Date/Time: Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 1:25 p.m. PT
Location: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)
Radio: 93.1 JACK FM
Quotable: "It’s two teams that are playing good football right now going against each other and I’m excited about it. It’s a big challenge for us. They’ve obviously won a bunch of games here recently and have a bunch of talent on their team. So, we’re going to go out there and play our best football," Stafford said.
- Sean McVay Returns to Practice Thursday Following Wednesday's Absence
- Rams WR Cooper Kupp Strives to Stay Even-Keeled After Strong Start to 2021
- Rams vs. Bucs Week 3: How to watch, Listen and Stream
- Bucs Expected to be Without LB Jason Pierre-Paul in Week 3 vs. Rams
- How the Rams' Pass Defense Stacks up Against QB Tom Brady