The Los Angeles Rams (3-0) will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) this Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams hope to gather their fourth straight win, but the matchup may not be a walk in the park. The Bucs’ most recent loss to the New York Giants doesn’t tell the whole story. The Giants won after Bucs rookie kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal as time expired. Had Gay made the field goal, the Bucs would have won 34-32. Instead, they lost 32-31.
The Rams are coming off a tough 20-13 win against the Cleveland Browns. Jared Goff threw 24 passes on 38 attempts for 238 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked twice. The Browns kept it tight throughout the game, but a Cooper Kupp touchdown reception and a Greg Zuerlein field goal kept the Rams in front. Both defenses had a strong showing, but the Rams pressured Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield all game long. Safety John Johnson’s interception with :33 left in the game sealed a Rams victory.
Tampa Bay has some serious weapons on their offense and defense that the Rams will need to watch. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw 23 passes on 37 attempts for 380 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against the Giants. He was also sacked three times. His favorite target last week was receiver Mike Evans who caught all three touchdowns. Evans had eight catches for 190 yards on top of his three scores. Gay also added four field goals of 42, 27, 52 and 23 yards, but did miss two extra points (one was wide, the other blocked). Running backs Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber both split carries for 80 yards. Jones also added one reception for 41 yards.
On defense, the Bucs also have a familiar face up front. Former Rams nose tackle Ndamukong Suh was acquired by the Bucs in the offseason. Suh has only registered five tackles this season. Against the Giants he had one tackle, half a sack (along with linebacker Lavonte David) and one quarterback hit. David led the defense with nine tackles along with a quarterback hit and pass deflection. The man to fear on the defense is linebacker Shaquil Barrett. Barrett has 12 solo tackles, eight sacks and two passes deflections this season. He will keep the Rams offensive line busy after registering six solo tackles, four tackles for a loss, four sacks and five quarterback hits against the Giants.
The Rams hope to take advantage of a weaker special teams squad, although Gay made four out of five field goals last week, the outlier being his last kick. Los Angeles may be able to take advantage with enough pressure. The Rams defense continues to be strong and defensive tackle Aaron Donald is looking to be even more disruptive this week. The safeties and linebackers will likely continue their great coverage and pressure Winston.
Goff looks to give a strong performance this week. The Rams are favored to win it at home, but the offensive line are looking to overcome their early season woes. Last week, Jamil Demby had to replace an injured Austin Blythe. Tyler Higbee is recovering from a lung contusion, however, both Higbee and Blythe are expected to play in Week 4 barring no setback in their recovery. They both will be needed to keep the Bucs defense at bay.
X-factors in this game may be running back Todd Gurley and receiver Kupp. Gurley has been a decent contributor so far, but hasn’t been the dominant force we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Kupp on the other hand has been the most consistent offensive weapon. Goff is certainly glad to have one of his favorite targets back this season.
Kickoff is Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on Fox.