Folks expecting a Monday Night Football showdown eerily similar to the last game between the Los Angeles Rams and a Tom Brady led team will likely have incorrect expectations. Fans of both teams playing Monday night who prefer end results closer to the last time the Rams faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019: 55-40, Bucs) might also be disappointed. But anyone wanting to see good American football competition close to being at its best, please tune in. In a highly-anticipated weekend of good and timely NFL match-ups, this Los Angeles Rams-Tampa Bay Bucs matchup might close out Week 11 as a serious NFC playoff preview.
Los Angeles Rams-Tampa Bay Bucs Week 11 Review/Prediction: Don’t Bet On A Super Bowl LIII Revisit
With Drew Brees currently out of the picture, the Bucs appear to be the team to beat in the NFC South. Of course, the division will not be handed to them. Two major things, at least, have to happen. The New Orleans Saints will have to fail in their attempt to not miss a beat with their current Taysom Hill–Jameis Winston dance remix, first and foremost. Plus, the Bucs must gain more consistency in the 2020 NFL season stretch run.
It is, in fact, the inconsistency of both teams offensively that makes this coming Monday night game possibly more intriguing than Thursday night’s Seattle Seahawks–Arizona Cardinals game touted as Week 11’s game of the week.
The Rams have the occasional fast start without scoring in the red zone, leaving points on the field. This can and has backfired. It’s also likely part of the reason they find themselves four-point underdogs this Monday night. Last week’s offensive output was enough for last week but this team needs more proficiency in Week 11.
Tom Brady and the Bucs receivers have looked out of sync at various times in games this season. As smart as Brady is, he sometimes appears frustrated that he can’t get his receiving corps to read his thoughts on the fly. He makes adjustments in his head as plays develop and attempts to throw receivers open to better-positioned locations. They don’t always pick up his telepathic texts.
Both teams need their A-game on Monday because the game as a whole has all the feel of coming down to who commits more turnovers and leaves more in the locker room than on the field.
What the Bucs Must Do To Win…After What They Can’t
It would be easy to assume that it’s Tom Brady, the G.O.A.T., and he’s usually in control when facing the Rams. However, Brady has never beat the Rams without head coach Bill Belichick. More specifically, without Belichick’s in-game adjustments and without Belichick’s cagey tactics that have been known to occasionally border on unethical. Yes, I went there because it’s a factor here if you plan to bet on the game.
Bucs head coach, Bruce Arians, is a great offensive mind but lacks the in-game cunning of Brady’s former head coach. Arians might only qualify as such with his willingness to score and score more no matter what or when. Some have found this unsportsmanlike conduct in the past. I call it football and welcome that mentality in Monday night’s showdown. Why? Because it makes for entertaining football. Jared Goff has been at his best in a video game atmosphere, possibly by design, as if head coach Sean McVay takes it personally when out-schemed or outscored during a game.
Tom Brady, in this writer’s opinion, has smarter, more talented weapons in Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski than the Rams faced against the Seattle Seahawks. This makes the Rams defense more vulnerable than they’ve been in recent weeks. Brady knows all too well, by way of the most disruptive player in the NFL, that it is imperative that the game plan’s groundwork revolves around sharp, quick passes designed to avoid any and all pressure from the Rams talented pass rush. It’s where he shines and is especially effective against the Rams. It’s also the key to a Bucs victory so don’t be surprised if while watching, you can’t unsee him in his old team’s jersey.
What the Rams Can’t Do To Win…And What They Must
Los Angeles can’t be complacent, read their own defensive press clippings or dwell on the past. This week’s opponent comes in as a different animal than they’ve faced recently. This is mainly because like the Rams, the Bucs can be a difficult read when gaging their identity from week to week. This is not a huge concern because McVay has stated that the mentality of the defensive unit collectively has mastered the “reset” button and moves on from mistakes instantly. A huge plus because quite a few players with the Rams have had no connection to Tom Brady disappointing the Rams and their fans in two of the biggest games in franchise history.
What must be done to assure a Rams victory is rather simple to state but somewhat complicated to pull off. It starts with Jared Goff. It ends with the Rams’ brain trust growing a pair in their play selection process. Meaning, in Super Bowl LIII, they were coaching way too carefully. In part, based on McVay’s reverence of his childhood idol opponent, Belichick.
Here, the Rams must insert more play-action than what was seen against the Seahawks. Goff sitting in the pocket waiting for the down-field moments are a turnover in the making. This is likely to be the crucial turning point that can change the momentum, even cost them the game. Luckily, for the team and their fans, this is exactly the type of game McVay and Company blew up the roster and part of the coaching staff for in the off-season. A G.O.A.T or genius coach-led team. Trust me, the Rams have had more than a week to prepare for the December 10th, England Patriots match-up. Part of that preparation translates well here.
The Monday Night Match-up Bottom Line
“Andrew Whitworth out at left tackle. Jared Goff will be uncomfortable. Bucs win.” -Colin Cowherd.
With all due respect, this particular game is nowhere as simple as Colin’s summation behind his Blazin’ Five prediction: Bucs, 28-23.
Offensively, the Rams should impose a stick-and-move game plan. Take what is given while giving Goff the distance he needs to feel comfortable. The downfield opportunities will come without forcing them and the knockout punch will resonate in the final score. That’s what’s really important. Whitworth’s replacement might surprise Mr. Coherd.
Sure, Brady is great, smart, and has history on his side. However, he won’t be stepping up in the pocket as comfortably as normal because of Aaron Donald. Pressure from both sides and covering sideline to sideline is inevitable because of it. Coach Arians loves the downfield game and Mike Evans becomes the truest danger when Brady does find the time to go long. But ultimately, the Rams appear more in sync and commit fewer penalties. They’ll put themselves in a position more often for the crucial turnover.
Week 11 Prediction: Rams win, 31-20