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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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2022 Game Preview: Rams-Buccaneers, Week 9

The winners of the last two Super Bowls will clash for the fifth time in the last five seasons, with the Buccaneers looking to end the Rams' mastery of the series and their own current losing streak

Game preivew

The winners of the last two Super Bowls will meet at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The question is, can either one use this marquee matchup to reestablish itself as a contender for the next Super Bowl.

The Rams will visit the site of Super Bowl LV, in which the Buccaneers became the first team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in its own home stadium. The very next year, the Rams accomplished the same feat, defeating Cincinnati in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Thus, both franchises have accomplished their ultimate goal within the past two seasons, but in that span the head-to-head series between the Buccaneers and Rams has been decidedly one-sided.

That means the Buccaneers come into Sunday's contest with an eye on ending not only a current three-game losing streak that has dropped them to 3-5 overall, but also a run of three-straight losses to the Rams over the 2020-21 seasons. Tampa Bay overcame its regular-season defeat against the Rams to go all the way to the title, and rebounded from an early-season loss in Los Angeles last year to end up with a home game in the NFC Divisional Round. Unfortunately, the opponent in that game was the Rams, who turned back a stunning second-half comeback to win on a walk-off field goal, 30-27.

The Buccaneers won their second Super Bowl in the first season after the dramatic free agent acquisition of quarterback Tom Brady. Brady fully unlocked the potential of the team's loaded group of pass-catchers and directed the highest-scoring team in the league over his first two seasons at the helm. The Rams won their second Super Bowl as a franchise in the first season after a bold trade for Matthew Stafford. Stafford threw for nearly 5,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns as the Rams also got over the offensive hump with a proven veteran passer.

Brady and Stafford remain at the helms of their respective offenses, but neither one has yet found the same high gear it operated at during the past two seasons. In many ways, the two teams are treading water in similar ways. Los Angeles ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing offense, ahead of only Tampa Bay. The Bucs are 25th in points per game, the Rams are 28th. Neither team has been efficient in the red zone. The Buccaneers have lost five of their last six and have had trouble putting together full 60-minute games despite spurts of efficiency on both sides of the ball. The Rams have lost three of their last four and have been held to 14 points or less in all four of their losses this season.

There is reason for hope for both teams, however, even in the short run. The Rams should come to Tampa with confidence given their recent mastery of the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay could be getting some much-needed reinforcements on defense back, which could help them restore the stingy unit that was on display during the team's 2-1 start. And both teams clearly remain in win-now mode, with talented and veteran-laden rosters built to extend the windows that have garnered each team a championship in the first two years of this decade.

Two of the Rams last three losses have come to San Francisco, putting them in third place behind the 4-4 49ers and the upstart 5-3 Seattle Seahawks. That puts Los Angeles in a tougher position within its own division than the Buccaneers find themselves in. Despite their 3-5 record they are just a game back of the 4-4 Falcons and have already taken one head-to-head meeting with Atlanta. The right combination of results in Week Nine could have the Buccaneers back in first place as soon as Sunday; the Rams will have a little more work to do.

Either way, if one or both of these teams carrying very high expectations is going to turn things around in the second half of the season, it needs to start sooner rather than later. And it can only start for one of them this Sunday.

"It's accountability to each other – they're out on the field together, understanding how to prepare and doing things the right way," said Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles. "We're all in this boat together – nobody is pointing fingers or anything else. The only thing that can get us out of it is ourselves. When we start making a play here or there, it becomes contagious. We've got to keep working at that and that's what football is – you've got to go out and believe and make plays. It comes with the little things – [if] we do the little things right, the big things will come."


Los Angeles Rams (3-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

Sunday, November 6, 4:25 p.m. ET

Raymond James Stadium (capacity: 69,000)

Tampa, Florida

Television: CBS (local WTSP Channel 10)

TV Broadcast Team: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (reporter)

Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station

Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (reporter)


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The Buccaneers have encountered the Rams three times in the playoffs – more than any team other than the Eagles – and all three times it has meant the end of Tampa Bay's postseason run. The last two times have been very memorable nail-biters decided late in the fourth quarter, including last year's matchup at Raymond James Stadium in the NFC Divisional Round. Tom Brady led a stunning rally to pull the Bucs back from a 27-3 third-quarter deficit, at one point hitting Mike Evans on a 55-yard touchdown pass, and Leonard Fournette tied the game at 27-27 with 42 seconds left on a nine-yard fourth-down scoring run. Unfortunately for the home team, Matthew Stafford still had time to hit Cooper Kupp twice for a total of 64 yards and Matt Gay walked it off with a 30-yard field goal.

The other two Bucs-Rams games were for the right to go to the Super Bowl, at the end of the 1979 and 1999 season. In addition to those two NFC Championship Games, the Buccaneers decades-long history with the Rams includes the highest-scoring game in franchise history and the most thrilling Monday Night Football victory in team annals.

The Los Angeles-and then St. Louis-and then Los Angeles again Rams hold a 16-9 edge (19-9 including playoffs) in the all-time series with Tampa Bay after beating the Bucs in the regular season in each of the last two years. In Week Three of the 2021 season, the Buccaneers suffered the first of only four losses that season in their first visit to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, with the Rams taking a 34-24 decision. Stafford threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns and the Buccaneers had difficulty scoring despite racking up 441 yards of offense. The previous year, in a game that had three lead changes and four different ties, the Rams won 27-24 on a 40-yard field goal by Gay, a former Buccaneer, with 2:36 left in regulation. Los Angeles held the Bucs to just 251 yards, their second-lowest total of the year, but Brady hit Chris Godwin on a 13-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with four minutes to play. The Rams duo of Kupp and Robert Woods combined for 23 catches and 275 yards and Jordan Fuller sealed the win with a pick on Tampa Bay's last drive.

In Week Four of the 2019 season, the Buccaneers played in L.A. for the first time in 26 years and celebrated with a 55-40 win that set team records for most points scored and most combined points by both teams. Six different Buccaneers scored touchdowns in the game, with Godwin notching two among his 12 catches for 172 yards. Former Ram Ndamukong Suh ended the Rams' late comeback attempt with a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown after a Shaq Barrett sack and forced fumble.

That win snapped a five-game winning streak in the series by the Rams, which in turn had come after the Bucs had won five of six between 2000 and 2010.

The second of the two Bucs-Rams NFC Championship Games came at the end of the 1999 season, pitting St. Louis' "Greatest Show on Turf" against a stifling Buccaneers defense. That defense carried the day for most of the game's four quarters until Ricky Proehl's 30-yard touchdown catch in the final five minutes gave the Rams an 11-6 lead. The Bucs had one more chance to take the lead back but stalled well into Rams territory after an overturned reception that led to the famous Bert Emanuel rule. Coincidentally, the Bucs and Rams had also met in the NFC Championship Game in 1979, in Tampa Bay's first-ever foray into the playoffs. Los Angeles won that game, 9-0.

The most famous non-playoff game between the Bucs and Rams occurred the season after their second NFCC meeting. In Week 16 of the 2000 campaign, with both Tampa Bay and St. Louis fighting for playoff spots, the two clubs staged an incredible shootout on Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium. Marshall Faulk scored four touchdowns for the visiting Rams but Warrick Dunn countered with three rushing scores of his own, including the game-winner on a one-yard dive with 48 seconds left. That final drive was kept alive by an incredible bit of ad-libbing by Dunn, who got out of a tackle for a loss by flipping the ball back to quarterback Shaun King. King ran around the end for a first down and a late-hit penalty tacked on 15 more yards. The Bucs held on to their hard-fought 38-35 win when John Lynch intercepted Kurt Warner's last pass.


· Rams Head Coach Sean McVay got his very first NFL job in Tampa, joining Jon Gruden's staff as an offensive assistant in 2008.

· Rams kicker Matt Gay originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2019. He spent one season as the Bucs' kicker and made 27 of his 35 field goals. The Buccaneers went with the veteran Ryan Succop over Gay at the start of the 2020 season and Gay later joined the Rams just after midseason. Gay was the NFC's kicker in last year's Pro Bowl.

· Raheem Morris, currently in his second year as the Rams' defensive coordinator, was the Buccaneers' head coach from 2009-11. Tampa Bay compiled a 17-31 record in that span. Morris was also an assistant on the Bucs' coaching staff from 2002-05 and again from 2007-08, starting out as a defensive quality control coach and eventually moving on to assistant defensive backs coach and defensive backs coach. Morris was also promoted to defensive coordinator after the 2008 season to replace Monte Kiffin but he got the head coaching job just a few weeks later.

· Eric Yarber, in his sixth season as the Rams' wide receivers coach, held the same role for two seasons (2010-11) under Morris.

· Rams Senior Offensive Assistant Greg Olson spent four years on Tampa Bay's coaching staff, originally arriving as the quarterbacks coach under Jon Gruden in 2008. He retained that post when the Buccaneers replaced Gruden with Raheem Morris in 2009, adding offensive coordinator duties for Morris's three-year stretch at the helm.

· Kevin Demoff, the Rams' Chief Operating Officer, took over his current post after four seasons with the Buccaneers, working as a consultant and a senior assistant.

· Buccaneers Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Thaddeus Lewis played quarterback at Duke and then signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He spent most of his rookie season on the Rams' practice squad.


Tampa Bay:

· Head Coach Todd Bowles

· Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin

· Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

· Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers

· Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote

· Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong

Los Angeles:

· Head Coach Sean McVay

· Offensive Coordinator Liam Coen

· Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris

· Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis



· P Jake Camarda (fourth-round draft pick)

· WR Russell Gage (UFA)

· G Luke Goedeke (second-round draft pick)

· DL Logan Hall (second-round draft pick)

· T Fred Johnson (FA)

· WR Julio Jones (FA)

· TE Ko Kieft (sixth-round draft pick)

· G Shaq Mason (trade–NE)

· CB Zyon McCollum (fifth-round draft pick)

· OLB Carl Nassib (FA)

· S Keanu Neal (UFA)

· TE Cade Otton (fourth-round draft pick)

· TE Kyle Rudolph (FA)

· S Logan Ryan (FA)

· RB Rachaad White (third-round draft pick)


· G Logan Bruss (3rd-round draft pick…on injured reserve)

· P Riley Dixon (FA)

· CB Cobie Durant (4th-round draft pick)

· CB Derion Kendrick (6th-round draft pick)

· WR Allen Robinson (UFA)

· ILB Bobby Wagner (FA)

· RB Kyren Williams (5th-round draft pick…on injured reserve)

· S Russ Yeast (7th-round draft pick)



· While the Bucs continue to maintain enviable continuity on their coaching staff, there is a new person in the corner office. In March, Bruce Arians stepped down after three years as the head coach and took on a new role as a senior advisor to the general manager. Todd Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to take his place. Bowles previously served as the New York Jets' head coach from 2015-18 before rejoining Arians when the latter came on as the Buccaneers' head coach in 2019.

· With Bowles stepping up the Bucs needed a new defensive coordinator and they essentially named two of them. Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers added the title of Run Game Coordinator while Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote switched to inside linebackers and added the title of Pass Game Coordinator. They are in effect co-defensive coordinators. Bob Sanders joined the staff to take over for Foote in the outside linebackers room. Foote made his switch after Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell landed the defensive coordinator position in Jacksonville under new Head Coach Doug Pederson.

· The Buccaneers had two key players retire after the 2021 season, but only one of them stayed retired. While quarterback Tom Brady eventually elected to return 40 days after announcing he was stepping away from the game, his long-time buddy Rob Gronkowski walked away for good, leading to big changes in the Bucs' tight end room. While veteran Cam Brate returned, O.J. Howard left in free agency and the Buccaneers subsequently drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft and signed veteran Kyle Rudolph.

· Tampa Bay's defense also saw the departure of two front-seven stalwarts from the extremely successful 2020-21 seasons, as neither DL Ndamukong Suh nor OLB Jason Pierre-Paul was re-signed. The team signed veteran standout Akiem Hicks and drafted Houston's Logan Hall 33rd overall to address depth up front and are relying on 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to step up on the edge.


· The 2022 Rams are, as many previous defending Super Bowl champs have been, a victim of their own success in terms of keeping a coaching staff together. Among the offseason hirings around the NFL were the Rams' offensive coordinator, Kevin O'Connell, getting the head coaching gig in Minnesota and Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach Ejiro Evero signing on as the defensive coordinator under new Head Coach Nate Hackett in Denver. To replace O'Connell, Los Angeles brought back Liam Coen, who had been on their staff for three years before spending 2021 as the offensive coordinator for the University of Kentucky. Chris Shula was promoted from linebackers coach to the post previously filled by Evero.

· That was only the beginning of a long list of changes to Sean McVay's staff, prompted in part by the departures of several other coaches, including Offensive Assistant Chris O'Hara and Tight Ends Coach Wes Phillips (both followed O'Connell to Minnesota) as well as Assistant Special Teams Coach Dwayne Stukes and Assistant Defensive Line Coach Marcus Dixon (both followed Evero to Denver). The Rams added seven new coaches: Chris Beake (inside linebackers), Kenneth Black (coaching fellow), Skyler Jones (assistant defensive line), Greg Olson (senior offensive assistant), Jake Peetz (offensive assistant), Ra'Shaad Samples (running backs) and Jeremy Springer (special teams assistant). They also gave new titles to several other returning assistants, including Thomas Brown (assistant head coach/tight ends), Thad Bogardus (outside linebackers), Jonathan Cooley (defensive backs), Zac Robinson (pass game coordinator/quarterbacks) and Lance Schulters (defensive assistant).

· The Rams saw stalwart left tackle Andrew Whitworth retire in March after 16 seasons in the league, the last five with Los Angeles. Whitworth was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time Associated Press first-team All-Pro and a standout performer for the Rams in their Super Bowl-winning campaign. Joseph Noteboom, a third-round pick in 2018, has taken over as the Rams' new starting left tackle.

· The Rams are also without two other huge contributors to their Super Bowl LVI run, as edge rusher Von Miller got a lucrative free agency deal to join the Buffalo Bills and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent after suffering a knee injury in the Super Bowl. Los Angeles also traded wide receiver Robert Woods to the Titans during the offseason.


*Looking for the Path Back *– In some ways, the 2022 Buccaneers feel a bit like the 2020 Super Bowl team did heading into its bye week. That club had lost three of its last four, had been bested by three prime playoff contenders (Saints, Rams and Chiefs) and hadn't fully unlocked its offensive potential yet. Now, that 2020 squad was better off at 7-5 and was already scoring at a decent rate, but a playoff spot at that point was not guaranteed. However, Tom Brady and the offense came out of the bye firing on all cylinders and never looked back. In the postseason, the Buccaneers' defense was locked in and arguably was more important to the final outcome of those playoffs than the offense, generating a wave of turnovers and sacks. Without Rob Gronkowski and several Pro Bowl offensive linemen, the 2022 Buccaneers may not quite have the same offensive ceiling as it did in Brady's first two years, but there is surely more meat on that bone. Meanwhile, the defense features enough playmakers to make another run. The Rams are feeling the effects of losing such important veteran pieces as Von Miller (free agency departure), Andrew Whitworth (retirement) and Odell Beckham (recovering from a Super Bowl knee injury and still unsigned). But Head Coach Sean McVay has shown an ability to adapt while leading L.A. to two Super Bowls in the last four years, and the Rams still have two cracks left at first-place Seattle ahead on the schedule. And they still have a top-five defense spearheaded by two absolute superstars in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. currently gives the Buccaneers a 45% chance of making the playoffs and a 40% chance of winning their division. They have Rams at 23% for the playoffs and 7% for the West title. There's a good chance one of these two teams will be facing better odds after Week Nine.

*If Nominated, Will Anyone Run? *– Of all the teams in the NFL, the Buccaneers and Rams are the only two more adverse to running than William Tecumseh Sherman. Tampa Bay has run the ball on 31.6% of its offensive snaps so far, the lowest percentage in the league, while the Rams are second-to-last at 34.1%. While both teams would likely prefer a bit more balance, these play-calling decisions have been driven somewhat by each team's persistent difficulties when they do hand off. The Buccaneers gaining just 3.04 yards per carry, the lowest average of the league; the Rams rank 31st at 3.26. Each team has had to cope with turnover on the offensive line and are still trying to make their new lineups work. Tampa Bay lost Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet to retirement, Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen to a training camp injury and starting right guard Alex Cappa to free agency. That means an entire new interior line between tackles Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs, and now rookie left guard Luke Goedeke is sidelined by a foot injury. The Rams saw star left tackle Andrew Whitworth retire after the Super Bowl and couldn't retain starting right guard Austin Corbett in free agency. The Buccaneers have arguably the most talented backfield with the duo of Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White, but the Rams boast the league's seventh-best run defense as compared to the 24th-ranked unit for Tampa Bay. Both teams would like to run the ball much better; the question is, how much will either one even try?

*New Week, Same Takeaway *– For the last month, Buccaneers games have featured fewer turnovers than a bakery at closing time. Tampa Bay has now gone four straight games without creating a takeaway, which is just the second time in team history that has happened. That streak is particularly confounding considering the Buccaneers had been one of the NFL's best teams at producing takeaways since the arrival of Todd Bowles in 2019, right up until the spigot was turned off in Week Five. (The Buccaneers, commendably, have also only committed one turnover in that span, and none on offense, as their first giveaway in four weeks was a muffed punt against the Ravens.) Coaches often espouse that turnovers tend to come in bunches, like they did in the fourth quarter of the Bucs' Week Two win in New Orleans, and obviously the Buccaneers are hoping that happens once they can turn the knob and end the current drought. Because if it does, the wins might start coming in bunches again, too. The Buccaneers are 19-0 in the Tom Brady era win they win the turnover ratio, though that has only happened once this season. They are also 16-3 when they have more points scored off turnovers than their opponent. This week, they draw a Rams team that has committed 13 turnovers in seven games, the fifth most in the NFL.

Can Bucs Keep Kupp from Spilling Over? – Last year, Rams wideout Cooper Kupp went supernova. He had only topped 1,000 receiving yards in one of his first four seasons but teamed up with Matthew Stafford in 2021 he put together stunning numbers, winning the receiving triple crown with 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Bucs might have seen it coming. Prior to last season, one of Kupp's biggest games was a nine-catch, 121-yard, one-touchdown outing against the Buccaneers in 2019. The Rams came to Tampa in 2020 and Kupp ran all over the field to the tune of 11 receptions for 145 yards in L.A.'s 27-24 victory. In another rematch at SoFi Stadium last season, Kupp scored two touchdowns in another Rams win among nine catches for 96 yards. But the most painful memory of Kupp for Tampa Bay fans were his two catches for 64 yards in the closing seconds of the Divisional Playoff Game at Raymond James Stadium, which set up Matt Gay for the game-winning field goal. That capped a nine-catch, 183-yard effort in which he also scored a touchdown. If you're scoring at home, that's 38 catches for 545 yards and four touchdowns. In four games! The Bucs probably need to find a way to slow Kupp down, at least, on Sunday if they are going to break their losing streak in the head-to-head series with Los Angeles.

*Secondary Still a Primary Concern? *– For the second season in a row, the Buccaneers have hit a stretch in which the injuries to their defensive backfield seem to be piling on top of each other endlessly. In their Week Eight loss to Baltimore they were without cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) and Carlton Davis (hip) and safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. (concussion) and Logan Ryan (foot, on injured reserve). Rookie Zyon McCollum has made his first two starts in the absence of Davis and Murphy-Bunting and fifth corner Dee Delaney has been pressed into service at both safety and slot corner. Will the Buccaneers get any of those players back in time to face Los Angeles? Given that the Rams' offense, like the Bucs, is very heavily tilted toward the pass, a healthy secondary would be particularly helpful in Week Nine. Ryan won't return from injured reserve by Sunday and Winfield wasn't involved in practice on Wednesday, 10 days after suffering his concussion, so the safety position may still be stretched a bit thin. But both Davis and Murphy-Bunting got in some practice work to start the week, so there is hope for reinforcements at cornerback.


1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey

As we noted in this week's Next Gen Stats roundup, Mike Evans has been Tom Brady's best weapon this season by a large margin. Not only does Evans lead the Bucs with 577 yards from scrimmage, but he's averaging 14.8 yards per catch while the rest of the team is averaging 9.1. Evans is riding a hot streak, with 15 catches for 219 yards, and he's due for another trip to the end zone after scoring three times in the first three games but none in his last four. Evans has deceptive build-up speed to make him the team's best deep threat but also is a beast at contested catches and is able to hold onto the ball even while taking serious hits. Evans is sure to see a significant dose of Rams superstar Jalen Ramsey, who could line up just about anywhere on any given play. Ramsey plays on the outside in the Rams' base defense, and either he or Troy Hill moves into the slot when the team goes to a nickel package. In addition, Ramsey is occasionally used to shadow the other team's top receiver, not necessarily for an entire game but sometimes in important situations, such as in the red zone. Ramsey is in the conversation for the NFL's best cornerback and has made the Pro Bowl five times in a row, with three first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections in that span. Ramsey plays with a serious competitive edge, has the footwork and speed to mirror any route and has a nose for the football. At 6-1 and 208 pounds, he also has a better chance of matching up physically with Evans than most NFL corners.

2. Rams T Rob Havenstein vs. Buccaneers OLB Anthony Nelson

The Rams' offensive line has struggled in 2022, in part due to injuries, and is missing two key members of the 2021 Super Bowl team in left tackle Andrew Whitworth (retirement) and right guard Austin Corbett (free agency departure). However, right tackle Rob Havenstein has been the bright spot in that group. For one thing, he's been available,having started every game and played 99% of the offensive stats. With Whitworth gone, Havenstein is the leader of that group and a team captain and earlier in the season he called for the offensive line to have a "mindset change" to address their struggles up front. At 6-8 and 330 pounds, the Wisconsin product is an imposing figure up front but he's also an intelligent and technically sound player who is difficult to get around. Drawing that assignment this week will largely be fourth-year outside linebacker Anthony Nelson, who is moving into the starting lineup following the season-ending Achilles tendon injury suffered by Shaq Barrett. Nelson is also a smart and detailed player, and he showed in the final three games of last season that he could produce in a front-line role, notching a sack in each of those contests. If the Buccaneers stick to their previous alignment, Nelson will largely be rushing from the left edge of the team's defensive front, which would put him in conflict with Havenstein for much of the afternoon. Nelson is a good physical match for Havenstein at 6-7, and he is an every-down hustler who can also set the edge against the run. The Buccaneers hope to keep their pass rush operating at an acceptable level after the loss of Barrett, and Nelson will be a big part of that effort.

3. Buccaneers G Shaq Mason vs. Rams DT Aaron Donald

Bucs right guard Shaq Mason won't be the only blocker trying to impede Aaron Donald's progress, and in fact on many plays there will likely be multiple linemen assigned to slow down the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Donald has set up all along the Rams' front line this season and certainly get some action in Mason's vicinity. Donald's freakishly quick get-off at the snap is the greatest of his weapons and that plus incredible strength have helped him rack up 102.0 sacks in 134 career games, including a team-leading 4.0 through seven games this year. Mason and company will try to slow him down with double teams, but other opponents have tried that before and still failed to keep Donald away from their quarterbacks. Mason is the most experienced of the Bucs' new interior offensive linemen, having started for seven seasons in New England before coming to Tampa in an offseason trade this year. Mason is a powerful run blocker and can take out defenders on the run when the Bucs use him on pulling plays. He also displays good lateral quickness to close up gaps in the interior, and last year he was credited with allowing just one sack all season. Mason is part of a Buccaneers front line that has allowed just 13 sacks through eight games, third-best among NFL teams that have already played eight contests.

4. Rams WR Cooper Kupp vs. Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis

As noted above, Cooper Kupp has had nothing but prolific performances the four previous times the Buccaneers and Rams have met. And the malaise that has struck most of the Rams' offense in 2022 has somehow not affected Kupp. Despite defenses knowing that Kupp is going to get the ball and is the only reliable Rams producer at the moment, he still leads the NFL in receptions per game, at 9.1, and is averaging just under 100 yards per outing. "He does everything well," said Todd Bowles. "He blocks, he runs routes, he's outside, he's inside, he's in the backfield, he's at the line of scrimmage, he's in motion, he throws passes, he catches the ball. He's a very intelligent player. He has a lot of savvy. He's a very athletic player, as well. He has good size that goes unnoticed when he's blocking but he has good size to get on you. He's one of the rare players that comes around every couple years." The Bucs will have a better chance of slowing Kupp down if Carlton Davis returns from a two-game absence due to a hip injury. Davis has the size and length to match up with Kupp and he has a similar amount of savvy. Davis has occasionally been used to shadow a specific receiver in recent seasons, but even if the Bucs don't assign him exclusively to Kupp he's sure to be in plenty of one-on-one situations with him.



DNP: Did not participate in practice

LP: Limited participation in practice

FP: Full participation in practice

NL: Not listed


· QB Tom Brady(rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: DNP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· TE Cameron Brate (neck) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Out.

· ILB Lavonte David (rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.

· CB Carlton Davis (hip) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

· WR Mike Evans (ankle/rest) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.

· WR Russell Gage (hamstring) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· DL Will Gholston (rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: DNP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· G Luke Goedeke (foot) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· DL Akiem Hicks (foot/rest) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.

· WR Julio Jones (knee) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· G Shaq Mason (personal/ankle) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.

· CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

· S Antoine Winfield Jr. (concussion) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Out.


· RB Cam Akers (personal) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· C Brian Allen (knee) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.

· DT Greg Gaines (illness) – WEDS: NL; THURS: DNP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· LB Jacob Hummel (hip) – WEDS: NL; THURS: LP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· WR Van Jefferson (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.

· LB Ernest Jones (illness) – WEDS: NL; THURS: DNP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· WR Cooper Kupp (ankle) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· LB Terrell Lewis (rest) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.


Sunny with passing clouds, high of 88, low of 69, 18% chance of rain, 65% humidity, winds out of the ENE at 11 mph.


Head referee: Shawn Hochuli (9th season, 5th as referee)


· Favorite: Buccaneers (-3.0)

· Over/Under: 42.5



Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 66

Touchdowns: RB Leonard Fournette, 5

Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 2,267

Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 92.4

Rushing Yards: RB Leonard Fournette, 386

Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 39

Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 577

Interceptions: CB Jamel Dean, 2

Sacks: DL Vita Vea, 4.5

Tackles: ILB Devin White, 63


Points Scored: K Matt Gay, 40

Touchdowns: WR Cooper Kupp, 6

Passing Yards: QB Matthew Stafford, 1,763

Passer Rating: QB Matthew Stafford, 85.5

Rushing Yards: RB Darrell Henderson, 197

Receptions: WR Cooper Kupp, 64

Receiving Yards: WR Cooper Kupp, 686

Interceptions: Five tied with, 1

Sacks: DT Aaron Donald, 4.0

Tackles: LB Bobby Wagner, 51



Scoring Offense: 25th (18.3 ppg)

Total Offense: 21st (332.9 ypg)

Passing Offense: 5th (271.0 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 32nd (61.9 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-17th (20.0)

Third-Down Pct.: t-25th (34.6%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 2nd (3.82%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: t-29th (45.8%)

Scoring Defense: 6th (18.9 ppg)

Total Defense: 11th (326.4 ypg)

Passing Defense: 6th (194.0 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 24th (132.4 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-5th (18.3)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 25th (42.1%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 3rd (9.29%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 29th (69.6%)

Turnover Margin: t-8th (+2)


Scoring Offense: 28th (16.9 ppg)

Total Offense: 30th (297.4 ypg)

Passing Offense: 15th (229.0 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 31st (68.4 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: 23rd (18.7)

Third-Down Pct.: t-4th (45.5%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 27th (9.23%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: t-20th (52.4%)

Scoring Defense: 18th (22.4 ppg)

Total Defense: 5th (310.9 ypg)

Passing Defense: 11th (205.7 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 7th (105.1 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 1st (16.6)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: t-22nd (41.7%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 17th (7.32%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 3rd (43.8%)

Turnover Margin: t-29th (-5)


· Quarterback Tom Brady has 7,461 career regular season touchdowns. With 13 more he would become the first player in NFL history to reach the 7,500-completion mark.

· Brady has 99,836 career passing yards, with the postseason included. He needs 164 to become the first player in NFL history to get to 100,000 passing yards.

· WR Mike Evans had a season-high 123 receiving yards against Baltimore in Week Eight. A similar performance against the Rams could put him past two career milestones. With 9,978 yards coming into the game, Evans would need only 75 to get to 9,953 and pass Chad Johnson for the 10th-most receiving yards in a player's first nine NFL seasons. If he kept going to 122 yards Sunday, Evans would become the 51st player in league history to hit the 10,000 receiving yards mark.

· Wide receiver Chris Godwin is highly likely to join Evans as the top two receivers in franchise history in terms of receiving yards on Sunday. Godwin pushed his career total to 5,011 yards in Week Eight, leaving him just eight shy of passing Mark Carrier (5,018) for second place.

· RB Leonard Fournette snared his third touchdown reception of the season in Pittsburgh in Week Six. He needs just one more to equal the Buccaneers' record for scoring catches in a season by a running back. Charles Sims set the mark at four in 2015.

· Lavonte David will play in his 158th game as a Buccaneer on Sunday. That will move him into a tie for seventh place on the team's all-time games played list.


· Head Coach Todd Bowles on the Buccaneers getting back to focusing on fundamentals during their extra preparation time: "I think you always need it. That's part of the reset process, and sometimes you get away from it as the season goes. Some of the things on films show fundamentals were missing with certain guys, whether it was a missed tackle or filling the alley the right way. So we got back to some fundamentals."

· Cornerback Jamel Dean on the possibility of some of the team's injured defenders getting back into the mix this week: "It will be nice. It would be nice to have everybody that went down, but it's always still the 'next-man' mentality. You can't make any excuses because injuries, that's part of the game."

· Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson on replacing the production of injured teammate Shaquil Barrett: "It's going to be a team effort. Everybody on defense is going to have to step up. Everybody in our room – Joe [Tryon-Shoyinka], me Carl [Nassib], Genard [Avery] – we're going to have to step up. It's a big loss. Like you said, you hate to see [a teammate injured] but it's part of the game, which sucks. You really hate to see it, especially with such a good dude like Shaq. We've got a lot of things to fix."

· Guard Nick Leverett on what the Bucs need to do to turn the season around: "Just not panicking. It's not the end of the season, there's plenty of time left, we just hit the halfway point. And just really honing in on the fundamentals, like Coach [Todd] Bowles said. We've just got to go back and lay down the little things and just reset, take a normal reset."

· Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting on what he sees when he looks at the 3-5 Buccaneers: "I see heart. I think the reality is, everybody in this locker room knows what winning is and knows what it's like. I think we just take it day by day. We know how to win, we know what we need to do to win. Things haven't been going our way so being, so being able to stack wins – getting one win and being able to stack on top of those would be a game-changer for us."

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