NFL Monday Night Preview: Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers [Defences Should Dominate]
For the third time in four weeks, we will have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Primetime.
The first two appearances did not go well. They needed a come-from-behind win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football in Week 8 and were trounced by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football in Week 9.
The Bucs were able to bounce-back with a resounding 46-23 win in Carolina last week, but will run into a difficult Los Angeles Rams team on Monday.
Following a disappointing defeat in Miami in Week 9, the Rams defence was able to shut down the Seattle Seahawks aerial attack last week, winning 23-16 and moving to 6-3 on the season.
The line and total for this game have held firm with the Buccaneers coming in as -3.5 favourites and an Over/Under of 48½ at Play.Spreads.ca
Both teams come in with clean bills of health, with Tampa Bay guard Ali Marpet being the only key player with an injury designation. Marpet is in concussion protocol and is questionable to play Monday.
The Buccaneers and Rams both have good offences, loaded with weapons, but the true strength of both teams is their defence. Both squads are in the top-3 in terms of Yards/Against per game, while the Rams are second in Points/Against (18.7) and the Bucs are eighth (22.6).
From a DVOA perspective, things look a little differently. Tampa Bay is the No.1 overall defence (No.1 vs. PASS | No.2 vs. RUSH) and the Rams are eighth (No.9 vs. PASS | No.12 vs. RUSH) per FootballOutsiders.com. Either way, this is shaping up to be more of a defensive slugfest rather than a high-scoring shootout.
Despite another alleged legal issue, it looks like Antonio Brown will suit up for his third game with the Buccaneers. His involvement increased last week, with him hauling in seven of eight targets for 69 yards. He is one of the all-time greats and gives Tom Brady the most dangerous trio of receivers in the NFL. If he does play, he gives the Buccaneers offence another dimension, and that will be needed against the Rams elite secondary.
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The Pick: Under 48.5
Both offences are going to have a tough time in this game. The Rams rely on the running game to set up the passing game, but the Buccaneers have the best run defence in the NFL. Few teams throw the ball as much as Tampa Bay does and the Rams give up the third-fewest passing yards per game. Their strengths on offence play right into the hands of their opponent's strengths on defence. Expect a slightly more low-scoring game, something like 24-20 with Tampa covering.