These two teams have met each other 23 times (including two playoff games), with the Los Angeles Rams winning 15 games and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8. The last time they met was 2015 and the Rams won 31-23 at St. Louis.
The Rams offense continued to struggle last week against Seattle after being shut out on Monday night against the 49ers. Starting QB Case Keenum looked better against the Seahawks, but the Rams have failed to score a TD yet this season. The Rams have scored a total of nine points through two games. Out of the 11 teams that started the season with only 9 points in the first two games, only the 1988 Cleveland Browns made the playoffs.
The team wants to get a running game going as RB Todd Gurley has been stifled for the most of the last two weeks. He seems to be pressing too much as teams stack the box daring the Rams to throw. RB Benny Cunningham is listed as Questionable this week with a knee sprain so 2nd-year man Malcolm Brown may get some looks.
WR Kenny Britt hopes to build on his play from last week. He sounds like he has come around and the Rams hope to get him the ball a lot against the Bucs smaller CB’s. TE Lance Kendricks had a nice game as well and hopes to continue his solid play. Tavon Austin was pretty invisible in week one but rebounded last week with five catches for 50 yards. The Rams want to get him the ball more.
The offensive line was decent enough for the Rams to get the win but they must improve the erratic play and untimely penalties if they hope to get things going on offense. There is too much talent in this group for them not to improve.
This group showed signs against the Seahawks of becoming the elite group many think they can be. DE Robert Quinn looked like he has rebounded from a back injury that kept him out of 10 games last season. He harassed QB Russell Wilson most of the day and was a big part of keeping Seattle out of the end zone. All-World DT Aaron Donald was also in the backfield a lot last week.
Rookie LB Josh Forrest showed why the Rams were comfortable letting go of Akeem Ayers. Starting his 1st game, Forrest was all over the making big plays in the run game. Moving Alec Ogletree to MLB is looking like a success. He was all over the field on Sunday and recovered a Christian Michael fumble late in the game to seal the victory.
The secondary will have their hands full with Tampa’s giant receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. LCB Trumaine Johnson has struggled early on, and Coty Sensabaugh is just there to make the tackle after the receiver makes the catch. He was benched for unheralded Troy Hill. Hill was beaten deep a couple of times but made the game-saving tackle that leads to the fumble as mentioned above.
Los Angeles’ special teams are what won the game for them last week. K Greg Zuerlein made all 3 of his attempts, and P Johnny Hekker downed all six of his punts inside the 20. Austin has yet to break a big return and seems to be trying too hard to make something happen.
It will be tough for the Rams to go into Tampa and get the win. The Bucs are playing their home opener and are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals. On paper, this is a team the Rams should beat. Therefore, I pick the Bucs to win a close one, 20-16.