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First Look: Rams clash with Bucs in Divisional Round of playoffs

The No. 4 seed Rams are Tampa Bay-bound to take on the No. 2-seed Buccaneers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, with the winner advancing to face the winner of Packers-49ers. Kickoff from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. is scheduled for 12 p.m. pacific time (NBC, Peacock, Universo).

In advance of the contest, here is your First Look at Rams-Bucs, presented by Audi.

Notable Buccaneers additions

  • Signed WR Breshad Perriman to the active roster on Dec. 3: Although Perriman had a quiet playoff opener with just one catch for five yards, he showed in the regular season that he must be accounted for – look no further than the speed shown on his walk-off 58-yard touchdown catch in Tampa Bay's 33-27 overtime win over Buffalo in Week 14.
  • Signed RB Giovani Bernard to a one-year deal on April 14: Leonard Fournette has carried the bulk of the load for Tampa Bay's backfield both as a runner and receiver, but with him dealing a hamstring injury over the last few weeks and backup Ronald Jones an ankle injury, Bernard was asked to do much more in their playoff opener against the Eagles than he did all season and showed an ability to do both while splitting carries with Ke'Shawn Vaughn.

Top performers in Wild Card Round

QB Tom Brady completed 29 of 37 pass attempts for 271 yards and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay's 31-15 win over Philadelphia.

RBs Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard effectively split the backfield work, Vaughn posting 17 carries for 53 yards and one touchdown while Bernard tallied 13 carries for 44 yards and one touchdown.

WR Mike Evans was Brady's top target, hauling in nine catches for 117 yards and one touchdown.

The Bucs defense caused three Eagles turnovers, an interception each from S Mike Edwards and OLB Shaq Barrett, plus a forced fumble by NT Steve McClendon (although that was recovered by the Eagles).

On special teams, K Ryan Succop made his lone field goal attempt plus all four of his extra point attempts, while P Bradley Pinion averaged 48.7 yards per punt across seven punts.

Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams

The personnel changes have been significant for both teams since facing each other in Week 3 of the regular season.

The Buccaneers became the first team in the salary cap era to bring back all 22 starters from a Super Bowl-winning team, but attrition late in the season has tested them, with, notably, wide receiver Chris Godwin sustaining a season-ending torn ACL and wide receiver Antonio Brown's highly-publicized departure from the team in Week 17. Fournette was placed on Injured Reserve late in the season with a hamstring injury, and while he returned to practice last week, he still has not been moved to the active roster yet.

Meanwhile, the Rams traded linebacker Kenny Young, acquired outside linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr, lost wide receiver Robert Woods to a torn ACL, placed defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and cornerback Robert Rochell on IR, and saw running back Cam Akers return five and a half months after suffering a torn Achilles.

In other words, the rematch will look much different on Sunday, and not just from the usual adjustments implemented after the first time facing a team.

For the Rams specifically, the biggest impact will likely be the approach their secondary takes. While Brown did not play in Week 3, the Bucs still had Evans and Godwin healthy. This time around, the Rams secondary primarily has to worry about Evans and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

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