NFL Game of the Week: Rams vs. Buccaneers

Story posted November 4, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by JC Colavita

Through the first eight weeks of the season, the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like shades of themselves. If you said both teams would be under .500 after facing off in the Divisional round last year, most people would've laughed in your face.

These teams are the Super Bowl champions from the previous two seasons but have yet to look like the contenders many predicted them to be. To the untrained eye, one could believe each team's issues emerged out of nowhere, but if you look closely, they've been staring you in the face all along.

Let's start with the quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady are severely underperforming after being potential MVP candidates a year ago. Totally unexpected, right? Wrong. Stafford led the league in interceptions last year with 17, so it isn't too far-fetched to see him with eight picks in 2022, which is second worst behind Matt Ryan.

For Brady, in his 23rd season at 45-years-old, it appears that father time has finally caught up to him. He’s two games under .500 for the first time in his career, and with personal issues weighing on him, he looks lost out there and is visibly frustrated with his teammates' level of play.

The story behind both teams' failures this season is their run game. Tampa Bay and Los Angeles average three and 3.3 yards per carry, which ranks 31st and 32nd in the NFL. Both rank in the bottom two in total rushing yards. To make matters worse, Los Angeles averages 4.8 yards per play which is second worst in the NFL, ahead of only the Pittsburgh Steelers.

One of the driving forces behind the Rams' Super Bowl run last year was their nearly impenetrable defense. On paper, Los Angeles should have one of the better units in the NFL as they are two of the top defensive players potentially of all time in defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Donald and Ramsey still perform at a high level, but the defense could have been stronger last year. Los Angeles was a top-ten team in many defensive categories, including touchdowns allowed, rushing yards allowed, and yards allowed per play. The Rams have a middle-of-the-pack defense this year that hasn't captured the same magic.

Conversely, the problem this year for Tampa Bay is the offensive line. Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ali Marpet retired in the offseason, and Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen was placed on Injured Reserve on September 1st with a severe knee injury.

This is one of the first times Tom Brady hasn't had top-notch protection in his career. Last Thursday night against Baltimore, Brady was notably frustrated with his protection as he was seen visibly berating them on the sideline after an abysmal series.

Overall, the Rams are a more complete team. They have a better defense and still have WR Cooper Kupp, who always has the potential to have a huge game. I think the Rams go on the road and take care of business and put themselves back in the playoff conversation;

Prediction: Rams 33, Buccaneers 23

JC Colavita is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email