One of the NFC’s remaining unbeaten teams will look to stay that way as the (3-0) Los Angeles Rams host the (1-2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week four NFL action (4:05pm ET Sunday, live on FOX).
Much as they have been the past few seasons, the Rams have opened their season on a roll. They haven’t exactly done it against easy opponents either. The Rams opened 2019 on the road against the Carolina Panthers, a team that on paper had a lot more talent than their 7-9 record from last season would suggest. After a scoreless first quarter, the Rams relied on their running game to put two of the team’s total touchdowns on the board.
In week two, the Rams had what could have and likely would have been an offensive showdown against the New Orleans Saints. Early on, Saints QB Drew Brees suffered an unfortunate injury and his replacement Teddy Bridgewater, who hadn’t played competitive football in a long time, had some rust he needed to shake off. Ultimately the Rams were able to pick up somewhat of an easy victory in a game that could have been one of their toughest of the year.
That led into week three and a meeting with the Cleveland Browns, who despite lofty expectations, have mostly underwhelmed this year. This time it was Jared Goff’s arm that led the team to victory as Goff found Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp for 19 of his 24 completions and 213 of his 268 total yards. It’s not often a pair of teammates gets 100 yards each. For Kupp, who is one of the best receivers in the league when healthy, it was his second straight game recording over 100 receiving yards.
The Road So Far for TB Buccaneers
A lot of times you’ll hear that a team is a “second-half” or “first-half” team and the latter is the perfect way to describe the season so far for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay may have a 1-2 record but they could easily be 3-0 if not for two really bad come-from-ahead only to lose-from-behind games against the San Francisco 49ers in week one and the New York Giants in week three.
An incredibly talented team with high hopes for this year, the Bucs opened their season with what should have been a very winnable game against a 49ers team who have exceeded expectations. Now 3-0, the Niners got their first victory in a game that Tampa Bay led at the half. Then the Bucs proceeded to give up 25 points while only scoring 10 to lose 31-17. Jameis Winston, whose ability to be the QB of the future for this team is certainly starting to come into question, had three interceptions and just one touchdown.
Winston followed that up with a solid week two performance, including finding Chris Godwin eight times for 121 yards and a touchdown. After trading field goals, the Buccaneers managed to outpace the Panthers just enough to get their first win of the year and keep Carolina winless for the time being.
Most teams go through ebbs and flows and that was the case for the Bucs over the first two weeks of the season. What really hurt was what happened in week three as Tampa Bay allowed the Giants, behind Daniel Jones in his first NFL start, to come back from a 28-10 halftime deficit to win the game 32-31. It gave New York their first and only win of the year so far. Offensively, Winston played one of the better games of his career, tossing three touchdowns and 380 yards. Mike Evans, the league’s eighth best wide receiver in terms of total yards with 279, dazzled, catching eight passes for 190 yards and all three of those scores. Even the running game was strong behind the duo of Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber but defensively the Buccaneers collapsed in epic fashion.
While saying the team could be 3-0 might be a stretch, they let a 2-1 record slip through their grasp. After last week’s devastating loss, the Bucs will need to shape up and play better if they hope to keep their playoff chances alive in a division that may very well have opened up with the injury to Brees of the New Orleans Saints. Clear frontrunners, the Saints now find themselves turning to Bridgewater, who as mentioned in this Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Los Angeles Rams preview already, hasn’t played football consistently in years. In fact, last week was Bridgewater’s first win as the starting quarterback in almost four years. While Bridgewater is still a good quarterback, the injury to Brees, which is expected to keep the future Hall-of-Famer out of action for about six or seven weeks (including when the Bucs play them in week five and possibly again when the teams meet in week eight), does open up the NFC South to its remaining 1-2 teams: the Atlanta Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers.
Our Preview’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Los Angeles Rams Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
To be honest, as much as the Rams are saying the right things in advance of this one, many believe they are looking past the Bucs and toward the Seattle Seahawks who they face the following week. It would be the first NFC West action for Los Angeles and with the 49ers unexpectedly perfect, could have an impact on the early makings of that divisional picture.
So, this isn’t quite a trap game, though if you were to ask Winston and the Bucs, they’d like it that way. Winston has done well with his back up against the wall and while this isn’t must-win for the Buccaneers, it’s a win that will put them right there in the conversation. It is certainly one that won’t be easy to come by.
Los Angeles opened as 10-point favorites with the trustworthy USA sports betting offshore sites on the spread but the line has since dropped to nine for the home team. It is a bit of a lofty mark, second highest of the week, so I like the Bucs in this one to cover. Here are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Los Angeles Rams predictions for this Sunday NFL matchup preview:
- The first of our picks is to bet the Bucs +9pts on the spread @ best odds of 110 with Bovada, Intertops or Bookmaker.
- Those wanting a prediction for the total points that might be achieved between the two teams, could do worse than having a wager to go over 49 points @ top odds of -108 with Bookmaker.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.