After two weeks into the NFL season, it's becoming more clear what each team is going to eventually evolve into being for the 2021 season. While its still just the early stages of what’s set to come, the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like the premature front runners for the league's top two teams.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has look every bit as good as coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead had hoped when they traded a haul of draft picks to acquire the talented signal-caller. Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp have registered the third post yards on connecting passes after two weeks.
Meanwhile, the ageless wonder in quarterback Tom Brady has also gotten off to a hot start, leading the NFL with nine passing touchdowns, while the Bucs boast a league-leading 39.5 points per game.
Here are our staff predictions ahead of the Rams vs. Bucs Week 3 contest:
Nick Cothrel, Publisher
NFC Championship preview anyone? This game has the makeup of displaying superior quarterback play, All-Pro receivers, All-Pro defenders and two highly respected head coaches. What more can you ask for? The Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both rank inside the top 5 in points scored, and as these two teams clash in Week 3, the scoreboard should see a lot of action once again. I believe these are the two best teams in the NFL through the early stages of the season with rosters from top to bottom full of talent. While I suspect both offenses will be able to move the ball with regularity, I see this coming down to the fourth quarter where just one defensive stop could be the difference-maker. With that said, I predict the Rams edge out the Bucs.
Prediction: Rams 34, Buccaneers 31
Connor O'Brien, Writer
The Buccaneers have begun defending their Super Bowl crown with a narrow victory over the Cowboys and a dominant performance over the Falcons. This test against the new look Matthew Stafford-led Rams will be much different than last season's game which the Rams won 27-24 on the road. The reigning Super Bowl champions have scored 30+ points in 9 consecutive games but could face their toughest task on Sunday. Still, I have a hard time believing anyone can slow down Tom Brady with the current weapons he has. Because of this, I'll take the Bucs slightly over the Rams.
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Prediction: Buccaneers 35, Rams 31
MJ Hurley, Writer
This very well may be the game of the year. Quarterback Tom Brady is playing his first game in Los Angeles and the Rams have the perfect opportunity to prove that they are contenders for the Super Bowl this season. With injuries on both sides of the ball for Tampa Bay, the Rams have their best chance to take down the reigning Super Bowl champions. Wide receiver Antonio Brown and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul have been ruled out for Sunday afternoon, which may put a hamper on some of the things the Bucs get set to due week in and week out, schematically. In order for the Rams to be successful Sunday, coach Sean McVay needs to focus on running the football and keeping Brady off the field, owning the time of possession. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive tackle Aaron Donald will do their part, but the Rams will win in a classic shootout.
Prediction: Rams 31, Buccaneers 28
Hunter Hodies, Writer
This game is going to be an absolute classic. The two best teams in the NFC going at it? Sign me and everyone else up. The defending champs come to Los Angeles to put their undefeated record on the line and this has all the makings of a shootout. Despite how great the Rams defense has been this season, it’s going to be hard for them to slow down Brady and company, especially when he has two No. 1 receivers on each side of the field, plus one of the best tight ends to ever do it looking like he’s back to form. The Rams will score their points but can they get some timely turnovers or stops, outside of a potential pick-six from cornerback Jalen Ramsey? I’m not sure they can, which is why I have Tampa Bay winning a close one.
Prediction: Buccaneers 38, Rams 35
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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel.