The Week 11 version of Sunday Evening Soccer is a battle between two of the highest groups within the NFC. The 7-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, trying to preserve tempo with the first-place New Orleans Saints, play host to the 6-3 Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are available driving excessive off a incredible victory in opposition to the division rival Seahawks, whereas the Bucs bounced again final week with a blowout victory over the Panthers after getting demolished by the Saints the week earlier than.
If the Bucs safe a win, they are going to soar the Seahawks for third place within the NFC. If the Rams win, they may also soar the Seahawks for third place within the NFC. In different phrases, third place within the NFC is on the road on this recreation. Let’s break it down.
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When the Rams have the ball
By now, most are acquainted with the type of offense the Rams run below Sean McVay. Every little thing they do relies off their outdoors zone working recreation, they usually make an effort to make sure that almost each play appears precisely the identical proper up till the second it turns into one thing totally different. The Rams are heavy customers of play motion, movement, jet sweeps, and tight, bunch formations that pack defenders near the road of scrimmage in order that their assignments can get confused or somebody can get picked whereas the receivers run their varied crossing routes.
Their type of offense makes for an enchanting matchup with Todd Bowles’ protection. The Bucs can convey strain from all totally different angles, they usually have gotten a ridiculous quantity of strain on play motion dropbacks: per Professional Soccer Focus and Tru Media, opposing passers have been pressured 51.1 p.c of the time they’ve faked a run earlier than trying to throw in opposition to Tampa Bay. For perspective, take into account that the league common strain charge on such throws is round 35 p.c.
The Bucs having the ability to get a lot strain is notable as a result of Jared Goff primarily collapses when you get defenders in his face. Per PFF and Tru Media, he has accomplished simply 30 of 78 passes (39.5 p.c) for 291 yards (3.7 per try), two touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 36.9 passer score when below strain. No, that isn’t a typo.
The Rams should strike a fragile stability between what works finest for his or her passing recreation (play motion) and what may put Goff in place to fail (being closely pressured). Goff — like most quarterbacks — doesn’t discover as a lot success when throwing from a straight dropback as he does when faking a run earlier than delivering the ball. His passer score plummets from 112.8 on play motion throws to simply 84.2 on common dropbacks, per PFF and Tru Media.
Tampa’s go rushers (Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul on the sting, Ndamukong Suh up the center) are merely higher gamers than their counterparts on the Los Angeles offensive line. The lack of Andrew Whitworth must also knock the Rams’ line down a peg, with Joseph Noteboom (a former guard who misplaced his beginning spot) stepping in on the place.
On the surface, the matchups needs to be extra even. Cooper Kupp will see lots of Sean Murphy-Bunting within the slot, and he seemingly has the largest benefit of any Rams wideout. Robert Woods might even see shadow protection from Carlton Davis, leaving Jamel Dean in opposition to the much less harmful Josh Reynolds. Reynolds, although, has taken on a bigger function within the offense over the previous few weeks, really out-targeting Woods within the workforce’s final three video games. Dean has been prone to double strikes all through the season, and it might be an enormous upset if we didn’t see the Rams attempt to goal him with one in some unspecified time in the future on Monday night.
L.A. will presumably attempt to get its floor recreation going early with the intention to get the Bucs flowing towards the ball after which hit them with bootleg motion, however Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers, and Malcolm Brown determine to search out powerful sledding. Even with out Vita Vea in the midst of the protection, the Bucs have been fairly troublesome to run in opposition to. Tampa ranks second within the NFL in rush protection DVOA, per Soccer Outsiders, and seventh within the proportion of opponent dashing makes an attempt stopped at or behind the road of scrimmage.
When the Buccaneers have the ball
Tampa’s protection has gotten lots of consideration this season for its excellence, however do you know that the Rams protection really leads the NFL in yards allowed per play? Aaron Donald is balling as standard, with 9 sacks, seven tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits, and 37 complete pressures, per PFF. Jalen Ramsey is getting used much more creatively than he ever was both in Jacksonville or final season with the Rams. Enjoying within the slot and nearer to the road of scrimmage has given him extra of a chance to make performs, and he is taken benefit of the possibilities he is been afforded.
The Buccaneers offense, in the meantime, has been extraordinarily inconsistent this season and infrequently appeared topic to the whims of the opposing protection. In seven video games in opposition to the the Panthers, Broncos, Chargers, Packers, Raiders, and Giants, the offense has accomplished properly, averaging 35.8 factors per recreation. In three video games in opposition to the Saints and Bears, although, the Bucs have totaled simply 45 factors. So, how will they fare in opposition to the Rams?
It is not a very good matchup for Tampa — particularly with star guard Ali Marpet prone to miss his third consecutive recreation. Not having Marpet on the within has pressured the Bucs to shuffle the road a bit, and his absence ought to imply extra alternatives for Donald and Michael Brockers to wreck issues on the inside. The Bucs’ offensive line is way more strong on the sort out spots, the place Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs are enjoying fairly properly, however edge dashing is not the power of this L.A. protection anyway. How properly Tampa manages to guard Tom Brady will probably be one thing to observe.
One other query is how the Rams will make the most of Ramsey. The Bucs realistically have 4 totally different gamers who might justify necessitating his protection in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and even Rob Gronkowski. The Rams appear unlikely to make use of him as a strict shadow because of the quantity of various passing choices, however we must always be taught early on which participant defensive coordinator Brandon Staley desires to remove from Brady. He has flashed much better chemistry with Godwin, Brown, and Gronkowski than with Evans all through the season, so the wager right here is that he finally ends up spending extra time on that trio than Evans. The Rams can maybe use nook Darious Williams on Evans. He is having a powerful season and is coming off his finest recreation of the yr, selecting off Russell Wilson two instances in Week 10.
The one different intrigue in relation to the Tampa offense considerations how Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich will divvy up the touches between their working backs. Ronald Jones seemingly has the primary shot at carries and Leonard Fournette at passing downs, however they’ve additionally been prepared to make one or the opposite the true lead man for your complete contest, relying on game-flow. L.A.’s run protection isn’t fairly as wonderful as its go protection, however it’s nonetheless one, and it could possibly be powerful sledding for Jones and/or Fournette all through the night.
Prediction: Rams 20, Bucs 17