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Can The Los Angeles Defense Stifle Tampa's Offense On MNF?

The Rams and Buccaneers nearly have opposite over/under records

All-Pro Reels, Flickr

Quick-Hitters

  • The Los Angeles Rams' lack of red zone consistency and stellar defense has led them to hit the under in 7-of-9 games.

  • Despite a couple of letdowns this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense has been relatively consistent, leading to an over/under record of 6-4.

  • The Rams (+750) are the fifth-favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, per FanDuel Sportsbook. The Buccaneers (+400) are tied as the second-favorites.

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Tampa's Execution

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a fantastic defense under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a nice one-two backfield punch of Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, and a receiving arsenal with as many weapons as any team in football. Thus, this team can win over anyone as long as Tom Brady plays winning football.

In Tampa’s three losses, Brady combined to throw three total touchdowns and five interceptions while averaging 233.6 passing yards and a 68.5 quarterback rating. In their seven wins, he has thrown 20 touchdowns and two interceptions, averaging 291.1 passing yards and a 110.7 quarterback rating. Tampa ranks fifth in passing touchdowns (23), sixth in points (296), and ninth in passing yards (264.6 per game).

As for the running game, Jones may have finally supplanted Fournette as the Buccaneers’ bell cow back. The third-year USC product rushed for 192 yards in Tampa’s dominant 46-23 win over the Carolina Panthers last week, highlighted by a 98-yard touchdown run (the longest in the NFL this season). Jones has 730 rushing yards and five scores while Fournette has 396 scrimmage yards as the change of pace back (he has caught 80.0 percent of Brady’s looks).

Tampa's offense has been relatively consistent, leading to an over/under record of 6-4 this season.

When Brady and the boys get out to a lead, the defense generally does their job to preserve it. The Buccaneers rank first in rushing yards allowed (103.9 per game) and third in total yards allowed (300.3 per game). They have the second-most takeaways in the league with 17 (12 picks and five fumble recoveries).

Edge rushers Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, and William Gholston have combined for 13.5 sacks and 36 quarterback hits. Elite linebackers Devin White, Shaquil Barrett, and Lavonte David have combined for 201 tackles and 11.5 sacks. Tampa’s young, but outstanding secondary features breakout rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. and third-year stud Carlton Davis, the latter of which leads the NFC in interceptions (four) and passes defensed (14).

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Rams Go As Goff Does

The Los Angeles Rams know a little something about having a strong defense. LA has surrendered the second-fewest points (168), the second-fewest total yards (2,668), and the third-fewest first downs (167). They rank first in opposing passing touchdowns (nine) and average points allowed per defensive possession (1.51). They sit in the top-10 in both passing yards allowed and rushing yards allowed.

Perennial All-Pro Aaron Donald, likely a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year once again (+275 per DraftKings Sportsbook), has unsurprisingly led the charge with an NFC-leading 9.0 sacks. The Rams have a total of 31 quarterback takedowns, just one behind the Buccaneers.

Just like the Buccaneers, the Rams can only go as far as their quarterback takes them. Jared Goff has had a better year than his Super Bowl-losing hangover season, but he’s nowhere near where coach Sean McVay needs him to be.

He has a healthy group of receiving options to work with. Henderson and Malcolm Brown have helped LA score 14 rushing touchdowns (tied for second in the NFL), but Goff has been mediocre at best in the red zone. The Rams only score a touchdown 62.9 percent of the time they reach the red zone, ranking 16th in the league.

The lack of red zone consistency and stellar defense has led the Rams to hit the under in 7-of-9 games.

LA has constructed a roster around Goff that can easily go all the way if he puts the pieces together and confidently executes. That’s more than apparent given the fact that the Rams upset the division-leading Seattle Seahawks 23-16 last week and dominated the Chicago Bears 24-10 two games prior.

The Rams (+750) are the fifth-favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, per FanDuel Sportsbook. The Buccaneers (+400) are tied as the second-favorites.

Which Over/Under Trend Takes A Hit?

Pieces don’t win ball games, execution does. It sounds like an inspired fortune cookie, but it’s true seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Tampa Bay has shown us more this season than Los Angeles has, especially at home, while the Rams have faltered at times on the road.

Brady and Tampa's offense may slow down against this excellent defense. It's hard to tell if the Buccaneers' over trend or if Los Angeles' under trend will prevail. The 48 point over/under line will be heavily watched leading up to kickoff.

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