Rams vs Buccaneers preview
This Saturday night, in St. Louis, MO at the Edward Jones Dome. The St. Louis Rams will faceoff against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams are out of the playoff race, so they are battling for pride. The Buccaneers have a record of 6-7, while the Rams are 5-8. This game will feature two players that are up for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. The Rams Todd Gurley and the Buccaneers Jameis Winston. Both players have been extremely impressive this season, and are poised to be huge stars in this league for a very long time. No doubt that is the storyline heading into this game, which rookie will have the bigger day? Lets look at some key matchups for this game and I will give my prediction on who will win this primetime game on Thursday night.
Can Austin and Gurley make big plays against McCoy/David and the Bucs defense?
This will be a good matchup to lookout for. Gurley and Austin are clearly the playmakers on this offense. These two are able to get yards in chunks. This past Sunday's game Gurley averaged 8.8 yds per carry, while Austin had 10 yds per clip. Gurley and Austin have combined for 1,869 all purpose yards.
So believe that the two playmakers on the Bucs defense, Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David will have the task of stopping the two. The Rams will really have to key in on Lavonte David. David currently leads the team in tackles (118) and interceptions (3). He is a game wrecker and could make it a long day for the Rams offense. Gerald McCoy leads the team in sacks (7). It will be very important for the Rams to move the ball on the ground so they can stay ahead of the chains and not face any 3rd and longs to keep McCoy from having a field day against a below average offensive line.
Can Aaron Donald get to Jameis Winston?
Aaron Donald has been an absolute nightmare for offenses since coming into the league last year. The 2014 first rounder (13th overall) has imposed his will on every offense this year. Donald currently leads the team in sacks (11) and has a habit of getting in the offensive backfield, to make tackles for losses. With Robert Quinn being out the rest of the season (back injury), Aaron Donald will draw alot of double and triple teams so that he will not get to the rookie QB Jameis Winston.
Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has had an impressive season despite a slow start. Winston has thrown 18 touchdowns and thrown for 3,059 yds. He has quickly assumed the leadership role for a young, ascending football team. He is also a sneaky athlete, he is not afraid to use his legs to extend plays or just run it himself.
Can the Rams defense stop Doug Martin and Mike Evans
The Rams defense has a tall task. Not just dealing with Jameis Winston, they also have to contain Doug Martin and Mike Evans. Martin is already over a thousand yards for the season and this will be the first time the defense has played against him (injured in the other meetings). So it will be very valuable that the Rams stop the run and keep this team one dimensional.
The other target they will have to try to stop, is the 6-5 WR Mike Evans. Evans is having somewhat of a productive year. He has 57 rec, 889 yds, but he only has 3 touchdowns. Despite the stats, the secondary will have to be on their toes since Evans with his size alone will create matchup problems.
Team stat comparison
PASS YDS/ GAME
DEF PASS YDS/GAME
DEF RUSH YDS/GAME
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Who will win on Thursday night?
Final analysis/ Game prediction
If the Rams defense can stop the run, pressure Winston and turn this offense run dimensional, they should be able to keep points off the board. The defense should also try to force some turnovers to help out the offense.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams must feed Gurley and get Tavon Austin involved early and often. They must sustain long drives to give the defense rest, passing game has to be productive, and most importantly score touchdowns. If they can get a sizable lead, you allow this defense to pin their ears back and rush the quarterback.
Special teams will be key as well. Last week they were able to flip the field for the defense. The Rams dominated the field position game and they will need to do it again.
My prediction for this game, Rams win a tight one 21-17.