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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Get Rematch with Rams in Divisional Round

Just as they did with the Saints and the Chiefs last year, the Buccaneers will get a postseason chance to avenge a regular-season loss when Matthew Stafford and the L.A. Rams come to Raymond James Stadium next Sunday

During the 2020 postseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got two rematches with teams that had defeated them during the regular season, and they won them both on the way to the Super Bowl LV championship. Now they have a similar opportunity to avenge an earlier loss in the 2021 playoffs, as the Los Angeles Rams are coming to Raymond James Stadium for a Divisional Round matchup next Sunday.

The Rams earned a trip to Tampa with their 34-11 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night in the Wild Card round. The NFC West champions gave the Buccaneers one of their four defeats of 2021 with a 34-24 decision at SoFi Stadium back in Week Three. Last year, Tampa Bay followed up two regular-season losses to the Saints with a Divisional Round win in New Orleans and then beat Kansas City, 31-9, in the Super Bowl after the Chiefs had won in Tampa in November.

The Buccaneers and Rams will kick off at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 23, with the game broadcast by NBC. The winner of that game will take on the victor in the 49ers-Packers contest in Green Bay on Saturday night. If the Buccaneers defeat the Rams they would either play at Green Bay or at home against San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.

Tampa Bay's defense, which kept Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles' offense off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter this past Sunday, will look to produce a better result the second time around against Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns in that Week Three meeting. Two of Stafford's scoring tosses went to wideout Cooper Kupp, who was just in the early stages of what would prove to be one of the best seasons by a receiver in NFL history. The amazingly consistent Kupp finished the year with 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns – all league-leading figures – and had more than 90 yards in all but one contest this season.

Overall, the Rams' offense finished eighth in the league in points per game (27.1) and ninth in yards per game (372.1). Los Angeles made one of the boldest moves of the 2021 offseason by trading for Stafford, the long-time Detroit Lions standout, and Stafford delivered 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns. Only the Bucs' Tom Brady threw more touchdown passes, with 43. However, Stafford also tied for the league lead with 17 interceptions.

The Los Angeles defense features two of the game's biggest stars in defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. A perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate (an award he has already won three times), Donald finished the regular season with 12.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits. Donald and Ramsey were both voted as Pro Bowl starters and Ramsey collected three interceptions and 16 passes defensed while often dissuading opposing quarterbacks from even throwing in his direction. That Rams' defense also features a pair of dangerous edge rushers after a midseason trade for Von Miller to pair with Leonard Floyd.

The L.A. Rams are crossing the country this coming weekend to see whether they or the Buccaneers will be continuing their postseason journey beyond the Divisional Round. The ultimate goal for both teams is to go right back to Los Angeles and SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LVI.

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