The Buccaneers have their last primetime regular season game scheduled on Monday night as they host the Los Angeles Rams in Raymond James Stadium.
Tampa Bay has played on Monday Night Football 23 times and own a 12-11 record in the games. They're 8-5 at home and since MNF has been on ESPN, the Bucs have gone 3-2. They've played the Rams on Monday night four of those times and gone 3-1 in those contests. Their last appearance was just three weeks ago as they defeated the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Quarterback Tom Brady has been under center under the Monday night lights 25 times, with an all-time record of 18-7. He ranks third in all-time wins on Monday Night Football with behind just Dan Marino (20) and Brett Favre (19).
The Rams won't make it easy as they come into town toting the league's seventh-best offense and second-best defense – just ahead of the Buccaneers – letting up an average 296.4 total yards per game. Los Angeles is allowing the second-fewest points this season, giving up an average of 18.7 each week. They'll match up with the Bucs who are scoring the sixth-most points per game with an average of 29.6 and who are coming off a win where they scored a season-high 46 points.
Read on for how to watch the divisional matchup, along with some key facts about the game.
- Los Angeles Rams (6-3) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)
- All-time record: Rams lead the all-time series 16-9
- Home record: 7-8
Key Matchups (via Scott Smith)
1. Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown vs. Rams CB Darious Williams
If the Rams choose to use Pro Bowl corner Jalen Ramsey to shadow one particular Bucs receiver, as he so successfully did last week against the Seahawks' D.K. Metcalf, they first have to decide which one that is, given all of Tampa Bay's pass-catching talent. It very well could be Mike Evans, given that he was easily the Bucs' most targeted player in Week 11, he's running and cutting much better with his ankle healed and he has been the target of such attention several times this season. The Buccaneers' most common grouping in Charlotte was with Evans and Brown on the outside and Chris Godwin in the slot, and Brown was targeted eight times on just 39 plays, pitching with a team-high seven catches for 69 yards. In just his second game with the Buccaneers, Brown seemed to have found a comfort zone in the Bucs' offense and clearly had a couple plays designed just for him. It would have been an even bigger day had he and Tom Brady connected on a deep post on which Brown had gotten a huge amount of separation. If Brown finds himself lined up opposite Evans on the outside, he'll likely be matched up with Williams, the breakout star on L.A.'s second-ranked defense. After an enormous two-pick day against Russell Wilson in Week 10, Williams now has four interceptions and 10 passes defensed, both team-leading totals. With quarterbacks inclined to stay away from Ramsey, Williams has seen a lot of passes come in his direction and he has been more than up to the challenge. The former undrafted free agent out of has started six games this season but he's been on the field a lot in every game because the Rams use five or six-DB packages on 85% of their defensive snaps.
2. Rams LT Joe Noteboom vs. Buccaneers OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
Noteboom, in his third season after being drafted in the third round in 2018, is expected to make his first career start at left tackle after Andrew Whitworth landed on injured reserve this week with a knee sprain. Noteboom has made eight previous starts at guard, including two this season, but this is a taller task, filling in for a four-time Pro Bowler who has the responsibility of protecting Jared Goff's blind side. Noteboom is getting the call from McVay over Tremayne Anchrum and Bobby Evans because he fared well when he took over at left tackle after Whitworth's injury last Sunday. The Rams drafted the 6-5, 312-pounder out of TCU with the idea of grooming him to eventually replace Whitworth, believing his size, length and athleticism are a good fit for the position. On Monday, the relatively inexperienced blocker will be tasked with slowing down one of the NFL's more experienced edge-rushers in Pierre-Paul. In his 11th season, Pierre-Paul is still going strong with a team-high 7.5 sacks, including at least one in seven of 10 games this season. He also has 10 quarterback hits and five tackles for loss and has been strong on the edge against the run, which is another area in which he and Noteboom will do battle on Monday. The Rams have given Goff good protection for most of this season, ranking sixth in sacks-allowed per pass play and only allowing 13 sacks in nine games. That will be tougher to maintain against the Bucs, who are second in the league with 32 sacks, and without Whitworth's contributions, but Noteboom will get a chance to show that he can be the team's left tackle of the future.
3. Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones II vs. Rams ILB Micah Kiser
Jones is coming off a career game against Carolina, which included 192 yards on 23 carries, highlighted by just the fourth run in NFL history of 98 or more yards. That outing moved the third-year Buccaneers back all the way up to third in the NFL and second in the NFC in rushing, behind only Minnesota's Dalvin Cook and Tennessee's Derrick Henry. With a per-carry average of 5.1 yards and five touchdowns, Jones is rightfully starting to gain Pro Bowl buzz. (Vote here!) Jones showed the talents that made him a high-second round pick on that long run, with a sudden burst through the hole, a quick cut to glance off a diving defender and the open-field speed to stay ahead of his pursuers the length of the field. Head Coach Bruce Arians has made it a point to repeatedly express his confidence in Jones to the young back, and it appears as if he is indeed playing with a high level of confidence in his best season yet. After spending his 2019 sophomore season on injured reserve, Kiser is getting a chance to start at one of the Rams' two inside linebacker spots this year following the departure of Cory Littleton in free agency. While Littleton's claim to fame was outstanding coverage skills, Kiser has been strong against the run, with 45 of his team-high 71 tackles coming on running plays. An intelligent player who was named college football's top scholar-athlete in 2017, he is hard hitter and a sure tackler roaming the middle of the field. Kiser has also broken up three passes and forced a fumble. He was the NFC's Week Two Defensive Player of the Week after recording 16 tackles and a forced fumble in a win over Philadelphia.
4. Rams WR Cooper Kupp vs. Buccaneers CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
The Rams run more than 70% of their offensive plays out of a three-wide package and all three of the usual wideouts – Kupp, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds – have played at least 20% of their snaps in the slot. However, Kupp is the most common of the three to line up there or tight against the line, with 67% of his snaps coming in those two locations. That makes sense, of course, because Kupp is one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL. From the start of the 2019 campaign through the midway point of this season, Kupp trailed only Cincinnati's Tyler Boyd in receiving yards out of the slot, with 1,108 according to Next Gen Stats. Kupp, who runs a lot of crossing routes, leads the Rams in both receptions (53) and receiving yards (577) and he's even run four times for 33 yards. When Kupp is in the slot, he'll commonly be matched up with Murphy-Bunting, who has one interception so far this season but was the team's leader in that category with three in his 2019 rookie campaign. At least one of those three picks came out of the slot, as he tracked the Lions' Danny Amendola on an out and undercut the play for a 70-yard pick six. Murphy-Bunting has the foot quickness and loose hips to stay with shifty slot receivers on underneath routes and last week he helped hold Carolina's Curtis Samuel to just three catches for eight yards.
Uniform Combination: Pewter jersey, pewter pants, black socks
Watch on TV:
- Monday, November 23, 2020
- Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
- Television Network: ESPN, MOR-TV
- Broadcast Crew: (ESPN) Steve Levy (play by play), Brian Griese & Louis Riddick (color), Lisa Salters (reporter)
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