NFL Divisional Round: Rams at Buccaneers Matchup & Prediction

BetQL breaks down the data and model trends to help you pick the winner

Rams at Buccaneers (-3)

I liked the Rams against the Arizona Cardinals last week because Kilff Kingsbury is quite possibly the worst coach in the league, but they have been terribly inconsistent in many of their games this season, which is concerning for a team that has literally mortgaged its entire future for this postseason.

They defeated this Buccaneers team, 34-24, back in Week 3 of the season in L.A., easily their most impressive win of the season. The final score is no indication of how that game went, as the Rams actually killed the Bucs throughout the entire contest with a potent passing attack. When the Rams play well, they look dominant, but consistency has been the problem for them this season.

L.A. was 3-5 against playoff teams this season, with the Bucs being the one good win, while the Cardinals were the other two late in the season. The Rams had blowout losses to the Packers, 49ers, Titans and even the early version of the Cards. The Rams' passing attack has really struggled in the second half of the season, ranking just 16th in the NFL after being top-three in the first half. Their rushing attack has been poor as well for most of the season, and now L.A. gets the Bucs defense.

The only hope for the Rams I think might lie in their defense, which gave Tom Brady fits in their first game. However, problems have emerged since. While they are great against the run, their secondary is really banged up. Jalen Ramsay is the only healthy starter left, and while that didn't matter against a struggling Cardinals passing attack, it will matter against Brady.

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Besides losing that early game to Los Angeles in Week 3, Tampa Bay has gone 6-1 against playoff teams this season and has won eight of nine games heading into this matchup. This offense is an absolute juggernaut, ranking No. 1 in the NFL, while QB Tom Brady led the league in passing yards and touchdowns. They also ranked top-five in rushing as well, so we are talking about a truly explosive offense.

The problem here will be the injury report, which I'm sure is going to be quite lengthy. RBs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones both are questionable to play, and the receiving corps is an absolute mess after Mike Evans. Now it looks like some key offensive lineman, namely Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen, could be out for this weekend's game against Aaron Donald and Co. Those would be huge losses if those two are unable to go.

However, the Bucs are at home, which gives them a large advantage over a Rams team that is significantly worse in hostile environments, and has been poor over the last half of the season.

I fully expect both teams to be pass-heavy in this one, as both have top rush defenses that won't allow the opposing team to run them over. Both secondaries have had their struggles this season in coverage and with injuries, so both teams can take advantage through the air. And if that is indeed the case, there is only one way for me to go in this game.

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Rams-Bucs Prediction

It will come down to the quarterback, and I think the answer is obvious here. Tom Brady is the GOAT for a reason. He's 76-48 (61%) ATS as a -7 favorite or fewer, and 35-23 (60%) ATS when the line is three points or fewer in either direction. In the playoffs, he's 9-3 (75%) ATS in these games. Meanwhile, Stafford is 11-41 SU in November or later games against .500 or better teams, and 14-35 (29%) ATS against those teams. He is 4-33 SU as an underdog as well. Stafford has also thrown eight picks in his last four games. Do you see where this is going yet? Give me Brady and Tampa at home to get it done.

Pick: Tampa Bay -3

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