-The Buccaneers may have already played the Rams in the regular season this year but just like it was against the Eagles: this is an entirely different team and the postseason is for all intents and purposes, a new season. That Week Three loss to Los Angeles doesn't have any bearing on what will happen on Sunday in the Divisional Round for myriad reasons – not least of which is the personnel that will now suit up in Rams colors.
Los Angeles may be without Robert Woods but they have Odell Beckham Jr. now as a replacement.
"They have weapons all over," said safety Antoine Winfield Jr. "The receivers are good, running backs are good, the quarterback is good, and they have a good offensive line. They have weapons everywhere. We just have to do our job of just making sure we contain those players. That's what we're practicing right now and that's what we're working on, so that's the goal just to contain all those guys."
That's what makes the Rams' offense so difficult to contend with: the sheer amount of weapons you have to account for. Not only has OBJ been productive himself for Los Angeles, scoring six touchdowns since becoming a Ram in Week 10, but he also pulls some of the attention of the league's triple-crown leader in Cooper Kupp, who finished the regular season as the top-ranked receiver in all three major categories.
"He's one of the best," said Head Coach Bruce Arians. "I think he and Chris Godwin, to me, are the best all-around receivers in the league because they block, they do everything – inside, outside. They're very comparable, and you know how I think about Chris. Cooper, he's a challenge. You can't double team him all day, that's for sure – they have too many other weapons. You just have to own up your guy and fight him. He's a hard tackle just like Chris is."
"That's actually a really good comparison," continued wide receiver Mike Evans. "They're similar body types, as well. I didn't know Kupp was that big – he's got some good size to him, he can run all the routes, very crafty, he's faster than he looks, great body quickness, great hands, contested catch. He's a complete receiver. That's the reason why he got the triple crown this year."
Add in the fact that the Rams will also have running back Cam Akers back after a logic-defying recovery from an Achilles injury earlier in 2021 and the Rams seem capable of going toe-to-toe with the Bucs and their over-30 point average per game.
They also acquired reinforcements on the defensive line, boasting not only Aaron Donald now, but also Von Miller these days.
"Von is a great player," said tight end Rob Gronkowski. "I played against him many times when he was out in Denver. He's super quick. He can shoot off the ball at any time and just brings another dynamic to that defense. They can set that edge out there with Von and get that pass rush out there. He brings a lot of pressure to the game – a lot of pressure he brings to the offense because he's quick and he can get to a quarterback really fast."
The Bucs' offensive line will be trying to make sure that doesn't happen. Both center Ryan Jensen and right tackle Tristan Wirfs were non-participants in Wednesday's walk-through practice and Arians said earlier in the week that both will likely be game-time decisions on Sunday.
I put a prayer circle on the board behind me on our Coffee with Carmen & Casey show this morning for our injured players. It didn't account for all 12 players that ended up being listed on Wednesday's injury report but if you're so inclined – send some positive vibes to AdventHealth Training Center, emphasis on health.
-All that being said, the Bucs will also have a few tricks up their sleeve that they didn't have available last go-around. You'll recall that was the game in which Gronkowski suffered multiple rib injuries, knocking him out of the game early. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting was on injured reserve. Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul missed the game with injury, too. Tampa Bay should hopefully have all of those guys available for Sunday, pending the health of Murphy-Bunting's hamstring that kept him out of last Sunday's Wild Card game.
Bucs Tweet of the Day: