Divisional Round Game Hub: LAR-TB


We hope you're enjoying this old content for FREE. You can view more current content marked with a FREE banner, but you'll have to sign up in order to access our other articles and content!

Divisional Round Game Hub: LAR-TB

Los Angeles Rams (13-5, 9-9 ATS) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4, 10-8), 3 p.m., Sunday

Brolley’s Rams Stats and Trends

  • Los Angeles owns a 6-1 outright record (5-2 ATS) over their last seven games.

  • They enter this week with a 2-0 record against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers. That includes a 34-24 victory back in Week 3 as one-point home underdogs in a game totaled at 55 points.

  • Matthew Stafford got the monkey off his back with his first postseason victory in his fourth playoff game in 13 seasons. The Rams raced out to a 28-point lead on the hapless Cardinals in the Wild Card Round thanks to Stafford’s near-perfect game. He completed 13/17 passes for 202 yards (11.9 YPA) and two touchdowns and three of his incompletions were drops. Stafford scored a season-high 29.5 FP against the Buccaneers in Week 3, which was the second-most FPG Tampa Bay allowed this season — Josh Allen posted 36.2 FP against them in Week 14. Stafford completed 27/38 passes for 343 yards (9.0 YPA) and four TDs in that late September matchup.

  • Cooper Kupp hadn’t fallen below nine targets in his first 15 games, but he’s seen exactly seven targets in each of his last three games. He’s still come through with a touchdown and 17+ FP in each of those three contests, but he’s lost some room for error with his targets shrinking. He hammered the Buccaneers for 9/96/2 receiving on 12 targets when these teams met in late September.

  • Odell Beckham has scored a touchdown in six of his last eight games with the Rams after catching all four of his targets for 54 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card Round. He’s topped 40+ receiving yards just three times in nine tries with the Rams, but his last five touchdowns have come from inside the 10-yard line. The Buccaneers have allowed 14 TDs to WRs in 18 games this season.

  • Van Jefferson has seen three or fewer targets in four of his last six games after catching his only target for 41 yards last week. He’s averaging 16.5 YPR in 18 games this season and he previously posted 4/42 receiving on six targets against Tampa Bay in Week 3. The Rams’ previous primary deep threat, DeSean Jackson, ripped the Buccaneers for 3/120/1 receiving.

  • Tyler Higbee is playing his best football of the season with five straight games with 40+ yards after posting 3/46 receiving on four targets in the Wild Card Round. He posted 5/40/1 receiving against the Buccaneers in Week 3, and Dallas Goedert turned in 6/92 receiving in this matchup last week.

  • The biggest development for Los Angeles’ offense this postseason has been Cam Akers’ successful return from a torn Achilles in July. He led Los Angeles’ backfield with a 53% snap share against the Cardinals, turning in 17/55 rushing (3.2 YPC) and a 40-yard catch on two targets. He left a long catch on the field with a drop and he had an additional 42 scrimmage yards wiped out by offensive penalties or else he would’ve had a monster performance in the Wild Card Round. Sony Michel had 18 + carries in six straight games heading into the postseason, but he left the Wild Card Round with just 13/58 rushing (4.4 YPC) on a seven-week low 40% snap share. The Buccaneers limited Eagles' RBs 17/56/1 rushing last week, but they added 10/69/1 receiving thanks to plenty of garbage-time production. Michel paced this backfield with 20/67 rushing and 3/12 receiving on a 74% snap share when these teams met in Week 3.

Brolley’s Buccaneers Stats and Trends

  • Brady’s Buccaneers have dominated the NFC with a 20-8 record over the last two seasons, but the Saints (1-4) and Rams (0-2) have given them by far the toughest time.

  • Tampa Bay owns an 8-1 outright record (7-2 ATS) over their last nine games, and they’ve been dominant at home with a 7-1 ATS mark in their last eight games at Raymond James Stadium.

  • Tom Brady improved his postseason record to a ridiculous 35-11 (.761 winning percentage) by scoring the first 31 points in their victory over the Eagles in the Wild Card Round. He hit multiple TD passes for the 13th time in 18 games as he finished with 271/2 passing against the Eagles. Brady posted season-highs in completions (41), attempts (55), and passing yards (432) but he threw for just one TD in their loss to the Rams in Week 3. All-Pro RT Tristan Wirfs and C Ryan Jensen picked up ankle injuries against the Eagles, and their statuses need to be followed this weekend.

  • Mike Evans has been battling through his own hamstring issue, but he served up a dominant performance with 9/117/1 receiving on 10 targets against the Eagles. He’s scored four TDs and he has 14+ FP in three games since Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown left the lineup. He failed to find the end zone against the Rams in Week 3 but he totaled 8/106 receiving on 10 targets against Jalen Ramsey and company.

  • Rob Gronkowski has 14+ FP in three straight games after posting 5/31/1 receiving on six targets against the Eagles. He ended a five-game scoreless drought with his two-yard touchdown last week. Gronk managed 4/55 receiving on eight targets before he left with an injury when these teams met in Week 3.

  • Tyler Johnson paced Tampa’s secondary receivers with 35 routes last week, but he managed just 2/30 receiving. Breshad Perriman is the clear #3 WR with 25 routes (1/5 receiving on 3 targets) and Scotty Miller is a distant fourth WR with eight routes (1/8 receiving). Johnson posted a season-high 63 receiving yards in this matchup back in Week 3.

  • Leonard Fournette wasn’t quite ready to return against the Eagles last week, but he already indicated this week that he expects to play this week. He’s posted 6+ catches in five of his last six contests. He was averaging 19.2/99.8 scrimmage per game with 10 touchdowns in 11 games in Weeks 4-15 before his hamstring injury. Giovani Bernard has been mostly out of the mix since Week 12, but he returned to the lineup last week and posted 5/39 receiving and 13/44/1 rushing on a 49% snap share. Gio could stay involved in passing situations this week especially with Fournette coming off a month-long absence. Fournette had his worst game of the season against the Rams with 34 scrimmage yards in Week 3, while Gio had 9/51/1 receiving with the Bucs chasing points in the second half.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies


Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.3 (16th)

Plays per game: 64.1 (24th)

Pass: 62.9% (9th) | Run: 37.1% (24th)


Pace: 27.4 (7th)

Plays per game: 69.4 (7th)

Pass: 67.6% (1st) | Run: 32.4% (32nd)

Pace Points

Just like the Packers and 49ers, the other side to the NFC’s Final Four also met earlier this season in Week 3. Bucs-Rams was actually the fourth-highest totaled game of the regular season (55.5 O/U) and ended up going over by two points. The story of Tampa’s 34-24 loss in L.A. was killer penalties – the Bucs’ took 5 offensive penalties in that game, which was the most they had on offense in a game all season. It was insanely loud inside of SoFi stadium and Tampa had a number of miscommunications as a result.

Despite losing Godwin, Fournette, and AB – Tom Brady and the Bucs’ have remained pass-heavy in their last three games after ranking first in pass rate in all situations (close games, trailing, and leading) over the season. Even if they get Playoff Lenny back, Bruce Arians and Brady are going to do what they do here. Brady is dropping back to pass about as often as his age after averaging a career-high 42.3 pass attempts per game.

Given how bad the Cardinals secondary was playing, HC Sean McVay’s run-heavy game plan was a surprise last week. L.A. went a whopping 73% run-heavy on early-downs last week as they completely reversed course from their pass-heavy tendencies. While you can’t argue with last week’s results by any means, their plan this week is in question. Will the Rams dare to run it that often this week against a Tampa front-seven that was flying to the ball last week after getting Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett both back? I’d bet not. Stafford dropped back to pass 38 times in Week 3 while their run game was stymied for a lowly 3.2 YPC.

Between the Rams running into a tough draw on the ground and the Bucs’ playing fast, throwing a ton, and generating a ton of play volume as a result – this game has the makings of a pass-heavy shootout. This is also the second-fastest game of the Divisional Round from a pace perspective and I’m a little surprised this total is relatively conservative at just 48.5 points in some shops (as of Thursday morning). I think this game should be up near the 50.5 to 51.5 range.

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

For Matthew Stafford, we already have 29.5 reasons to show him attention this weekend. That’s the number of FPs he collected in LARs 34-24 Week 3 victory over Tampa Bay. However, one particular injury during that game must be considered. A knee injury forced Jamel Dean out for the remainder of the game after only 12 snaps.

Everything concerning Odell Beckham’s upside flips upside down heading into the Divisional Round. A certain someone by the name of Jamel Dean will be stationed along the right sideline.

Dean has locked in an omoplata on his coverage responsibilities to the tune of 0.16 FP/CS (sixth-fewest), 0.75 YPCS (eighth-fewest), and a 59.8 TPR (sixth-lowest). Over his last seven games, Dean has allowed his coverage assignment to average 2.4 receptions, 21.9 yards, and zero TDs. In fact, he hasn’t allowed a TD reception since Week 1 (15 games). Am I expecting that he’ll shut OBJ down? I most certainly am.

It’s also bad news in this game for Mike Evans. Top CB Jalen Ramsey shadowed Evans in their game last season, but he mostly remained planted to the right sideline in Week 3. In total, Ramsey was only responsible for 5/54/0 of Evans’ line from those two games. We have no way of knowing if Ramsey will be tasked with tailing Evans this week. However, we do know that he will switch mid-game to a shadow if an opposing WR is finding consistent success (i.e., Week 12 at Green Bay vs. Davante Adams).

Dolan’s Vantage Points

The story of this game — when the Rams have the ball — is Matthew Stafford’s utter dominance against the blitz. He’s been the best quarterback against the blitz this season, and essentially the best in the last half decade. He’s having an historic season against pressure packages.

Why is that important? Well, the Bucs and DC Todd Bowles blitz more than any team in the league.

Obviously, Bowles is going to know this, and he’s going to know that Stafford shredded them earlier this season, so this is going to be one of the most intriguing chess matches of the entire NFL season so far. It’s also made more intriguing because Rams LT Andrew Whitworth won’t play.

Things will be a lot easier for Stafford and Cooper Kupp if Bucs slot CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (hamstring) can’t play. He didn’t go against the Eagles last week, and the Bucs actually used safety Antoine Winfield as their slot CB against Philly. Needless to say, that won’t work against Stafford and the boys this week.

While the Bucs are dealing with so many injuries, the Rams could be getting even healthier in their backfield, where Cam Akers already looks like a miracle.

Injuries are the story for the Buccaneers on both offense and defense, but especially offense. While Divisional Lenny looks to be ready to come back this week, it’s possible he’s running behind — and Tom Brady is throwing behind — an offensive line missing two key players, C Ryan Jensen and RT Tristan Wirfs.

Moreover, Brady’s receiving group is thin. Wes thinks Mike Evans will have a tough time with Jalen Ramsey, while Breshad Perriman (core) and Cyril Grayson (hamstring) are both looking iffy to play.

So yeah, the Bucs are down so bad that John Brown might be on their active roster this week. It looks like Brady will be focusing a lot of his throws on Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate, with some Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson mixed in. Keep in mind the Rams have a bunch of injuries at safety, too.