The Los Angeles Rams are on the road today against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that has fallen way below expectations through eight weeks. Although no playoff berths are on the line this weekend and there will still be eight weeks in the season, this is a massive game for both the Rams and Buccaneers.
The winner will head into Week 10 with some momentum and hope. The loser will sink further below .500 with even more questions being raised about their chances of contending, even in a weak NFC.
Both of these squads are shorthanded, too. The Rams are missing three Week 1 starters on the offensive line. The Bucs have already ruled out four starters for this matchup. Neither team will make excuses for any of their losses, but they’re both beat up and nowhere near full strength.
So who will fight through the adversity and come out with a win? If the Rams are going to do so, it’ll be thanks to a more efficient offense. They have one of the worst offenses in football, ranking 28th in points per game. The running game is even worse, currently sitting 31st in the league in yards.
They’ll also need to pressure Tom Brady, a tall task considering the way he gets the ball out quickly and doesn’t let pass rushers get near him. The Rams’ secondary has taken a step back from last year’s group but if the pass rush can generate some pressure, it’ll make it easier for the defensive backs to cover and take some chances.
I ultimately think the Rams are the better team in this one, despite being road underdogs. The returns of Brian Allen, Troy Hill and Van Jefferson are huge, even if they didn’t have major impacts last week. And the absences of Antoine Winfield Jr. and Cameron Brate are significant for the Bucs.
If the Rams can protect the football and move it efficiently on offense, they’ll win this game. It sounds easy and obvious, but that’s the key. The defense should do its job and has kept the Rams in games, but the offense needs to get its act together.
Final score prediction: Rams 21, Buccaneers 20
Story originally appeared on Rams Wire