Final score prediction for Rams vs. Buccaneers in divisional round

The Rams Wire

The Los Angeles Rams are in Tampa Bay today for a divisional round matchup with the Buccaneers, needing just two more wins to reach Super Bowl LVI – which will be played at their home stadium in Inglewood. The Rams already beat the Bucs 34-24 in Week 3, snapping Tampa Bay’s 10-game winning streak dating back to its Super Bowl run.

But can the Rams take down Tom Brady and the Buccaneers again when it matters most in the playoffs? This won’t be an easy game for either team to win, given how evenly matched the two are. Their offensive lines are both two of the best in the NFL, but they’re also each dealig with injuries to Andrew Whitworth, Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs.

Each receiving corps has lost a key contributor – Robert Woods for the Rams and Chris Godwin for the Buccaneers – for the rest of the season, but players have stepped up in their place. And good luck deciding which defensive front is better.

The Rams have the formula for beating Tampa Bay, boasting a pass rush that can create pressure against any offensive line. Aaron Donald has the ability to wreak havoc on the interior, while Von Miller and Leonard Floyd are bookend edge rushers who excel against the run and the pass.

Protecting Matthew Stafford from Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh is a tall task for Los Angeles’ offensive line, especially with Whitworth sidelined by a knee injury. And in the running game, the Rams will be going up against one of the best run defenses in the NFL for the last two years.

If the Rams are going to pull off the upset on the road, they’ll need to take care of the football, lock down Mike Evans on the outside and prevent Leonard Fournette from moving the ball consistently on the ground. Stafford had one of his best games of the season against Tampa Bay in Week 3, throwing for 343 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and only one sack taken.

The Rams won’t need him to put up those eye-popping numbers again today thanks to the resurgence of the ground game, but he can’t be the turnover machine he was at the end of the season when he turned it over eight times in a span of four games. He can’t make careless throws while being sacked, force throws into double- and triple-coverage, or panic when the Rams are backed up against their own end zone.

With the way he played last week against the Cardinals, there’s plenty of reason for optimism. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, with three of his four incompletions being dropped passes. He was nearly perfect and when he plays like that, the Rams will be tough to beat.

It’s why I like them to win this game on the road in a hostile environment. They have the better and healthier team, and if they put together a similar performance to what they showed against Arizona, they’ll upset Brady and the Bucs.

It’ll take some magic from Brady in order for Tampa Bay to beat the Rams, but I don’t think they’ll find enough of it to advance to the NFC title game.

Final score prediction: Rams 27, Buccaneers 24

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