Can LA Rams bring down the oft-hyped Buccaneers in MNF?

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams face an oft-hyped Tampa Bay Buccaneers team on Monday Night Football. Can the Rams win?

The LA Rams have been a bit on the wrong side of the 2020 NFL Schedule so far.  The Rams have faced easier teams at home, and tougher teams on the road. But worst of all, the team has been traveling more than staying this season. In their upcoming tenth game, this one is on the road against a heavily-hyped Tampa Bay Buccaneers,

The Rams have now traveled six times in their first ten games. Four trips have been across the nation, making the LA Rams arguably the most traveled team in the NFL. But the Rams have never had a trip like this in 2020 yet. Not only is the pressure on, but the team is still reeling from injuries to three starters.

Playoff pressure builds now

While the Monday Night Football contest against the Buccaneers is not an NFC West division game, the repercussions of this contest will have far-reaching implications for the NFC Playoff picture. Should the Rams emerge the victor, they will ascend to the leader of the NFC West division, will leap to the second-seed in the NFC playoff picture, and will take a commanding position for tie-breakers among the other NFC teams.

But if the Rams fall to the Buccaneers, the opposite occurs. The Rams will fall to third place in the NFC West, will fall to the seventh-seed in the NFC Playoffs rankings, and will land at a precarious record of 6-4. With four losses will be unable to afford greater than two more losses this season and hope to compete in the post-season. That means the Rams must play no worse than 4-2 in their final six games.

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Rams can win, but it won’t be easy

The LA Rams are no slouches this season, as their 6-3 record can attest to. But this is not a show-up and claim the victory sort of contest either. The Rams can win, but only if the team follows a successful game plan very closely. And that is not something that the Rams have done well this season, to be honest.

Of course, the first part of this one is to move the ball and score points. While the Buccaneers play the run very tough, they do allow teams to throw the ball somewhat successfully against them.  The key is to involve a lot of different faces in the offense. Thankfully, that is a strength to the Rams passing game. While the team will need to mix in a blend of running plays to keep the Bucs defense honest, this is not a game where the Rams will succeed by running the ball. So without the ability to consume the game clock on the ground, the Rams will need to avoid turning the ball over.

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Ball security and special teams

Let’s start with the basics. The Rams need to win the battle of special teams and turnovers. If the Rams cough up the ball or fall into a disappointing scenario of surrendering a score on special teams, the game can get out of hand pretty quickly. The Rams haven’t played well on ball security so far this year. Unfortunately, the most successful NFL teams do exactly that.

The Buccaneers are both successful and winning the turnover battle this season. The Rams, much like the New Orleans Saints, must make winning at turnovers a key to winning this game. That means that the honus will be upon the Rams to change their performance and to force the Buccaneers to change theirs as well.

Follow the Bears D model

It’s unlikely that the LA Rams will be able to replicate the New Orleans Saints performances against the Buccaneers. But it is possible to replicate the way the Chicago Bears game-planned against them. The Bears did not have a great running game, nor did QB Nick Foles light up the sky. But the Bears fielded a tough defense that kept Bucs QB Tom Brady in check. The defense caused and recovered a fumble to win the turnover battle. And the team was very physical.

The Rams will need to stymie the Bucs offense, and then find a way to move the ball effectively.  The Bears only managed to score one touchdown through the air. But they did squeeze another score out of their struggling rushing game. And the Bears put up eight points via the kicking game. That’s the Rams formula for success in this one. Efficient running game. Ball Security. Pass well enough to move the chains. Harass Brady for the entire game.

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It won’t be easy. But nobody said that it would be.  This is the first ‘barrier-game’ for the Rams to return to the NFL Playoffs. Win this one, and they suddenly have a better path to the post-season.