NFL Monday Night Football: Buccaneers/Rams Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday Night Football on ESPN features two NFC foes in the thick of the playoff race.

Los Angeles won their second game in their last three contests last week with their 23-16 victory over Seattle last Sunday as a 3-point favorite. The Rams used a +2 net turnover margin to help them outgain the Seahawks by +56 net yards to defeat their NFC West rivals.

Quarterback Jared Goff completed 27 of 37 passes for 302 yards in the victory. Goff is completing 66.4% of his passes on the season for 2447 yards with 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He leads an offense that is scoring 24.0 points-per-game while averaging 395.6 yards-per-game.

The Rams’ defense sacked Seattle’s Russell Wilson six times. Los Angeles ranks third in the NFL with 31 sacks. The Rams lead the NFL by holding their opponents to 296.4 yards-per-game, and their 18.7 points-per-game scoring average is second-best in the NFL.

Los Angeles is one-half game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West standings after Sunday’s results. This game will be the fifth time that the schedule-makers have required Sean McVay’s team to play on the east coast. The Rams are 2-2 in those games.

Tampa Bay has four victories in their last five games after their 46-23 win at Carolina last Sunday as a 6-point favorite. The Buccaneers dominated the Panthers as they outgained them by 361 net yards while holding them to just 187 yards. The Bucs’ offense churned out 544 yards while being on the field for over 36 minutes of that game.

Tom Brady completed 28 of 39 passes for 341 yards with three touchdown passes in the win. Brady is completing 66.0% of his passes for 2739 yards with 23 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He leads a Tampa Bay offense that is scoring 29.6 points-per-game while averaging 368.5 yards-per-game. The Bucs have topped the 30 point mark in three of their last five games. However, Brady has been sacked 14 times this season, with nine of them coming in their three losses to New Orleans twice and to Chicago.

The Tampa Bay defense is third in the league by allowing 300.3 yards-per-game. The Bucs are also holding their opponents to 22.6 points-per-game, and they rank fourth in the NFL in sacks.

Bruce Arians gave his team three days off this week after admitting that his team was tired after playing ten straight weeks without a bye week yet. The Buccaneers struggled in their three prime-time games earlier this season, with their lone victory being at the beginning of the month when they needed to rally in the second half to defeat the New York Giants at home by a  25-23 score. Arians changed the practice schedule this week by moving afternoon practices tonight. Brady has a career record of 18-7 when playing on Monday Night Football, but most of those starts were with him wearing a Patriots uniform. Tampa Bay is one game behind New Orleans in the NFC South standings after the Saints’ victory over Atlanta on Sunday.

The injury list is relatively light for both teams. Tampa Bay declared left guard Ali Marpet out for this game on Sunday. Defensive lineman Vita Vea and tight end O.J. Howard remains on their Injured Reserve list. Los Angeles safety Taylor Rapp and Pro Bowl left tackle Andre Whitworth are both out indefinitely with injuries.

BetOnline lists Tampa Bay as a 4-point favorite with the total set at 48. Kickoff is at 8:15 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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