February 26, 2021
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Jared Goff’s best passing games have come while visiting the East Coast and Monday’s game in Tampa Bay should be no different. In the four previous games combined, Goff has thrown for 1,252 passing yards and eight touchdowns. Photo by Los Angeles Rams.


By Matt Barrero, Assistant Sports Editor

THIS WEEK –

The Los Angeles Rams (6-3) showed they have some tenacity to win big games after defeating their division rival Seattle Seahawks (6-3), 23-16 last Sunday afternoon. The Rams will once again travel to the state of Florida for the second time in three weeks with another big game ahead of them as they take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3). The Bucs are coming off a large division win themselves after defeating the Carolina Panthers 46-23.

HISTORY –

Los Angeles leads the series with a 16-9-0 record and have outscored the Bucs 590-512. However, Tampa Bay did win the most recent contest, just last season, with a 55-40 victory at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Prior to that Bucs victory, the Rams had won the last five games dating back to 2012. With playoff implications and under the bright lights of Monday Night Football, the 26th matchup is sure to be a memorable game, one in which the Rams seek to be victorious.

PLAYER TO WATCH FOR –

OL Joe Noteboom

For the first time since 2016, Jared Goff will start a game without his left tackle, and blind side protector, Andrew Whitworth. Prior to suffering a grade 3 MCL and PCL tear in his leg, Whitworth had only missed one game since joining the Rams in 2017, in which he rested and was not injured. Enter Joe Noteboom. The three-year veteran out of TCU started the first two games of the season, but then went to IR after suffering a calf strain against Philadelphia. He entered last week after the injury to Whitworth and will have to fill the shoes of one the best left tackles in the league. The team has expressed full confidence in Noteboom as Sean McVay had already planned for Noteboom to take on the crucial role in the event Whitworth had retired prior to this season starting. Noteboom will have to hold his own against formidable D-linemen Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett and if he can protect Goff for 60 minutes, expect a game ball to come his way by the end of it all.

GAME CHANGERS –

Defense Wins Championships (or in this case a big game mid-season)

Both the Rams and Bucs defenses are ranked in the top three of the NFL when it comes to getting to the quarterback. Following a six-sack performance against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, the Rams pass rush has come alive the last few weeks and now ranks third in the league with 31 total sacks, just one behind the second-ranked Buccaneers (who have also played one more game). Additionally, the Bucs are number one against the run while the Rams are number one against the pass. The Bucs are giving up just 3.3 yards per carry and have only allowed 766 total yards rushing this season, both best in the league. The Rams pass defense is allowing just 5.2 net yards per pass attempt and have only allowed nine touchdown passes all season. Both are best in the NFL.

Counterpoint: Offense is Way More Exciting

In the last two seasons, Goff and Brady are NFL leaders in pass attempts. Last season, Goff led the league with 626 total pass attempts, 65 more than he had the year prior and this year, it’s Tom Brady leading the league with 385 passes. At this rate, he is on pace to finish the season with 616 pass attempts, which would be the fourth-most of his career and just three more passes than he threw last season. With names like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski, is this even surprising? Goff also has his share of formidable targets in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and slowly rising to stardom, Josh Reynolds. Add a two tight end mix of Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett and the Rams equally have a potent offense that has been known to do some damage in a Monday Night Football game (i.e., 2018 vs Kansas City).

FUN FACTS

Primetime or Bedtime?

Due in large part to their G.O.A.T of a quarterback, Tom Brady, the Buccaneers have played in primetime games three times and Monday’s matchup will be their third primetime matchup in three weeks. In the two previous Monday Night games, the Bucs lost to the Chicago Bears, 20-19, and barely beat the New York Giants, 25-23. On Sunday Night Football two weeks ago, they were obliterated by the New Orleans Saints, 38-3. Brady has been known to have a unique schedule and regimen in which he is in bed by 8:30 p.m. whenever possible. Because of the struggle, Tampa head coach Bruce Arians, had the team practice on Thursday and Friday during the time the Monday Night game would be played, in an effort to adjust and be ready for this week’s matchup vs Los Angeles. Will it work? Only time will tell.

History Making Monday

An all-Black officiating crew will work an NFL game for the first time ever. The makeup of the unit is no coincidence as members were drawn from various crews and were assembled for a specific purpose. Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations told USA TODAY Sports, “This historic Week 11 crew is a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game, their exemplary performance, and to the power of inclusion that is the hallmark of this great game.”

Don’t miss the historic sight and what is deemed the NFL’s Game of the Week, this Monday. Kickoff is set for 5:15 p.m. PST and you can catch the action on ESPN or your local ABC station.

GET ON THE HORN (G.O.T.H.) PREDICTION –

* G.O.T.H. Hot Take*

We’re changing it up this week! Instead of predicting which player will have a great game, I’m turning my attention to one particular aspect of a football game. That, being special teams. As of this post, the Rams were still undecided as to who their starting kicker would be, and they even said they would start both men for the sake of backup support. The Bucs have had their struggles with place kickers in the past, but it seems they have finally found their guy in Ryan Succop, the 12-year veteran who currently leads the NFL in points scored (90) and has only missed four attempts all season. This game is truly a toss-up and could either be super exciting with two high-octane offenses duking it out or it could be a dud on the scoreboard with both defenses showing off their muscle. Tampa Bay clearly has the edge, given the fact that their kicker has been very consistent all season, but I see the Rams kicker (whoever it may be) being the true difference, kicking the winning field goal to push the Rams to 7-3 and capping off another Rams Monday Night Football classic.

RAMS 38 BUCCANEERS 35

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