This week the St. Louis Rams play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and although neither has anything to play for, both teams will surely be playing hard. Last season these two teams met at the same time last year with the Rams coming out on top, here are the keys to victory for this week’s game:
Don’t Get Beat Deep
Last week the Rams did a great job of protecting the deep ball against the Saints as quarterback Drew Brees’ longest completion was 30 yards. Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon loves to throw the deep ball, and they will take their shots.
To beat the Buccaneers the Rams are going to have to make the Glennon and the Buccaneers offense work its way down the field and keep a close eye on wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Tiquan Underwood.
Protect The Football
In the Rams eight wins this season the Rams are +17 in the turnover margin, in their eight losses they are -7. The Buccaneers are second in the league in takeaways with 29, right behind the Seattle Seahawks.
The Buccaneers also only have 18 turnovers all season which is about right in the middle of the pack. To win this game, the Rams cannot turn the ball over and give the Buccaneers offense any extra possessions.
Set The Tone With The Run Game
Zac Stacy has really been the difference maker for the Rams on offense this season. After coming in week five, Stacy is still within reach of 1,000 yards. In the games that Stacy has struggled, the Rams offense has struggled e.g. the Cardinals and 49ers.
The Rams are going to have to set the tone on offense with the run game, and thankfully for them against the other three NFC West teams, the Buccaneers allowed 147 rushing yards on 4.64 yards per carry to the Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers.
Setting the tone on offense with the run is going to be important, but so will stopping the run on defense. The Buccaneers lost running back Doug Martin earlier in the season and Bobby Rainey has come in and done a respectable job replacing him.
The Buccaneers are ranked last in passing offense and are only ranked 22nd in rushing offense. If the Rams can control the run game, they could have a dominant defensive performance.
One of the biggest keys to this game is the quarterback play. The Rams are going to have to protect Kellen Clemens as to not force him into making any bad decisions or bad throws, and the Rams are going to have to make the young quarterback on the other side of the ball feel as uncomfortable as possible to make him force a bad throw or two.
Defensive end and defensive player of the year candidate Robert Quinn will most likely be up against left tackle Donald Penn. Penn has given up the fourth most sacks at his position this season.
However, the Buccaneers front four can do some damage as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and the rest of the Bucs front four can do some damage. The Rams offensive line is going to have to be on top of their game.
This could be a pretty close matchup, but if the Rams can win these battle and follow these keys to victory, they will give themselves a pretty good chance of coming out with a win this Sunday.