Game Preview: Rams look to move to 4-0 in first meeting with Bucs since 2016

The Los Angeles Rams (3-0) host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) in the first meeting between the two teams since 2016. Kickoff from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is set for 1:05 p.m. pacific time. A win would improve L.A. to 4-0 under Sean McVay for the second time in three seasons.

To get you ready for the contest, theRams.com compiled a quick preview featuring who to watch, what to watch for on offense and defense for both Los Angeles and Tampa Bay and three keys to victory for L.A.

Five players to watch

  • Rams C Brian Allen: The Buccaneers place Suh at multiple positions along the defensive line, so Allen will be important only if he gets matched up with Suh one-on-one but due to his communication responsibilities as well.
  • Rams TE Tyler Higbee: Simply put, how does he look in his first live game action in two weeks? Additionally, how his presence impacts the passing game and the run game given his blocking skills.
  • Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard: He may see more looks if WR Chris Godwin is unable to play in Sunday's game.
  • Buccaneers WR Mike Evans: Tampa Bay's top receiver is coming off an 8-catch, 193-yard, 3-touchdown performance against the Giants.
  • Rams S John Johnson III: Evans' big-play ability will test the Rams' secondary, which may put Johnson in a position where he has to make a potential game-saving tackle in the open field.

What to watch for…

On offense for the Rams

Establishing the run game against one of the league's most-improved run defenses.

New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has the Bucs allowing the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game (69.7) after giving up the ninth-most (123.9) last year.

If the Rams struggle to achieve a balanced offensive attack, it will be up to crisp execution from the passing game to come away with a win. However, the return of starting RG Austin Blythe should help the Rams' rushing attack find a groove.

On offense for the Buccaneers

Different angle with the same position group, but it will be interesting to see how the backfield carries shake out between Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber and who is most effective against the Rams.

Barber, listed as Tampa Bay's starter, has amassed 44 carries for 163 yards, while Jones has tallied 31 carries for 163 yards.

So while Barber leads the backfield in carries, Jones has been more efficient with his attempts, averaging 5.3 yards per carry to Barbers' 3.7.

On defense for the Rams

While Johnson was spotlighted, both he and Weddle will be important to limiting explosive plays in the passing game.

On defense for the Buccaneers

Starting ILB Devin White will miss his second straight game with a knee injury, but Tampa Bay adjusted well in his absence, holding the Giants to 3.8 yards per carry. Will the Bucs adapt seamlessly again on Sunday?

Additionally, OLB Shaquil Barrett will look to keep pace with his league-high eight sacks and pose a challenge for the Rams' offensive line.

Three keys to victory

  1. Air it out: While the Bucs secondary is healthier than the Browns secondary the Rams' offense faced last week, they've shown to a be a vulnderable secondary, allowing the 12th-most passing yards per game this season.
  2. Limit big plays in the passing game: McVay called receivers of Evans' caliber "big plays waiting to happen," and Winston has an ability to improvise and execute off schedule plays while boasting one of the NFL's strongest arms.
  3. Keep the pressure off QB Jared Goff: It's not just Barrett that contributes to the Bucs' ability to pressure quarterbacks, as Tampa Bay also has 6-foot-4, 313-pound Ndamukong Suh and 6-4, 337-pound Vita Vea on its defensive line.

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