Rams Vs. Bucs Week 3: NFC Championship Game Preview?
Tom Brady
Mike Ehrmann-Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams face their first big test of the 2021 NFL season when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a star-studded showdown at SoFi Stadium.

The Rams are 2-0 thanks to a clutch victory over the Indianapolis Colts during their first road trip. This potential preview of the NFC Championship Game will be a battle of undefeated teams with the Bucs also picking up right where they left off as Super Bowl champs.

Rams Offense vs Bucs Defense

The offense for L.A. struggled to find their rhythm at times against Indianapolis, but they have still managed to bring back an explosive element with quarterback Matthew Stafford now in mix. However, head coach Sean McVay made it clear that he plans to address wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s lack of involvement in the offense moving forward.

The Rams will be without an integral part of their offense in running back Darrell Henderson as he continues to recover from a rib injury he suffered in Week 2. This means Sony Michel, Jake Funk and practice squad running back Buddy Howell are poised to round out the depth chart this week.

The Bucs’ defense certainly has no shortage of talent across the board and they proved as much during their win over the Atlanta Falcons by picking off Matt Ryan three times. Despite some of the vulnerabilities in the passing game, they remain as staunch as ever against the run after giving up a mere 2.8 yards per carry versus the Falcons.

They will be without one of their key members in the pass rush department with Jason Pierre-Paul sidelined due to hand and shoulder injuries.

Rams Defense vs. Bucs Offense

Tom Brady is coming off an efficient, five-touchdown outing as he continues to spread the wealth among his talented group of pass-catchers. Even if he is focused on the elite defense in front of him, Stafford made sure to pay his respect to Brady for all that he has accomplished throughout his career.

Despite their obvious affinity for the passing game, running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones still averaged over four yards per carry last week.

Fortunately, the Rams have good reason to be confident in their ability to contain the passing game given the ample pressure they generated up front against the Colts with three sacks and 11 QB hits. This paid major dividends as they held them to 245 passing yards while hauling in two interceptions.

Tampa Bay will be without one of it’s key receivers in Antonio Brown, who was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week.

Keys To Victory

1. Initiate Shootout

It is no secret that McVay would like to establish and maintain a healthy balance of run and pass on offense. However, this could be the week that calls for Stafford to take advantage of a Bucs’ secondary that is giving up 342.0 passing yards per game and a 72.6 completion percentage.

Not only that, but their pass rush only recorded one sack in Week 2 and that was with Pierre-Paul in the mix. These vulnerabilities make for an intriguing matchup for Stafford and Co.

2. Pick Your Poison/Bring The Pressure

One of the luxuries of having a shutdown corner of Jalen Ramsey’s caliber is that the other team’s best pass-catcher is often effectively taken out of the picture. Even if this still leaves a host of other options for Brady to throw to, the Rams’ secondary as a whole is one of the deepest in the league.

More importantly, the Bucs’ o-line allowed three sacks and five QB hits on Brady last week, indicating that the Rams are far better equipped for a potential shootout.

How to Watch
Time: 1:25 p.m. PT
Location: SoFi Stadium
TV: Fox