While the Buccaneers have had some struggles on primetime this season, overall they have a winning record on Monday Night Football. They've appeared in the national spotlight on Monday nights 23 times, going 12-11 in those contests after their last appearance at MetLife Stadium in their win over the New York Giants in Week Eight. When at home on Monday Night Football, they're 8-5. Now, they'll host the Los Angeles Rams, a team they've played four times on Monday night and owning winning record in those games too, going 3-1.
The last time the Bucs played the Rams was at their place in 2019. Tampa Bay set a franchise record in points, taking home a 55-40 victory behind a monster day from a couple players in particular – a couple of which appear in the list below.
All eyes will be on the Buccaneers Monday night – here are some players you should play particular attention to in the primetime matchup.
1. WR Mike Evans
The last time these two teams met, Evans had himself a day. Like, celebrating with the LeBron stomp right in front of Kawhi Leonard, a day. His touchdown that day was a highlight-reel worthy play through the end of the season and it was far from an outlier throughout his career. In four games against the Rams, whether in St. Louis or Los Angeles, Evans has 27 receptions for 427 yards and a pair of receiving touchdowns. That's an average of over 100 yards a game. His per-reception average is 15.8.
This season, Evans has the third-most receiving touchdowns in the NFL with eight, which matches his total from all of last year. He also leads the Bucs with 514 receiving yards. He'll be a matchup to watch if the Rams decide to stick cornerback Jalen Ramsey on him. The Rams' secondary has played a big role in why their overall unit is ranked second in total defense this season.
An honorable mention also has to go to Chris Godwin. If Ramsey is indeed occupied with Evans, Godwin could go off like he did the last time these two teams faced off. In Week Four of 2019, Godwin had 12 (!!) receptions for 172 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Between the pair of these receivers, look for one of them to get heavily involved in order to keep this Bucs' offense humming like it has as of late.
2. RB Ronald Jones
Speaking of the offense, Jones is coming off his best game ever after running for 192 yards, including his 98-yard touchdown run, against the Panthers. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season as he continues to make his case for shouldering the load. His confidence coming into this Monday night game has to be through the roof and running on this Rams' defense could be key.
Los Angeles is ranked fifth in rushing defense, letting up just 96.8 yards per game, so they won't be making it easy on Jones or his backfield counterparts. But if Jones can have success on the ground, it should open things up for the Tampa Bay offense and help quarterback Tom Brady to another wheeling and dealing day like he had in Charlotte last week.
Honorable mention here goes to the offensive line, who will have to contend with one of the best defensive players in the league in Los Angeles' Aaron Donald. They may also have to do it without left guard Ali Marpet again, as he has been listed as doubtful for Monday's game. The Bucs employed backup center A.Q. Shipley while shifting starting center Ryan Jensen to left guard in the last game. It seemed to work out just fine considering Jones' aforementioned 192-yard day. The Bucs had 210 rushing yards overall last week and it was in large part thanks to the 'big boys up front.' They'll be crucial in keeping the Rams' defense at bay while opening things up for the Bucs' offense and protecting Brady.
3. S Antoine Winfield Jr.
One thing multiple players and coaches on the Bucs' defense said about the Rams' offense is that they're going to test you and your discipline using a lot of pre-snap motions and shifts to try and get your off your assignment. For players that are often positioned as the last line of defense like Winfield, remaining keyed in is especially important. You know he'll be one of the most prepared players on the field come Monday night with all the film study he does and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he was able to anticipate what the Rams' offense was trying to do to the point that it leads to some big plays for the young player.
That, or he may be the one shifting around and end up coming after Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff himself. He's a versatile player that can keep pace with a versatile offense like the Rams and it will be another opportunity for the rookie to shine on a national stage. After all, he was the one with the game-saving play the last time the Bucs were on Monday Night Football, batting away the Giants' two-point conversion attempt that would have forced overtime at the end of the fourth quarter.
4. DL Ndamukong Suh
Speaking of getting after Goff, that will definitely be on this guy's to-do list. Suh didn't get a sack on his former quarterback the last time around in 2019, but he did recover a fumble and take it to the house for a defensive score. He introduced us the signature Suh dance after it, too. Suh was with the Rams during their NFC Championship season in 2018 where they were defeated in the Super Bowl by none other than Brady's Patriots.
This year, Suh has been more involved in the pass rush from the interior and already has 4.0 sacks to his name through 10 games. Since he didn't have an opportunity to take down Goff last year, maybe he gets his chance on the national stage.
5. ILB Lavonte David
Watch this man and then go vote him into the Pro Bowl. That is all.