Week 16: St. Louis Rams At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QuarterbackSam Bradford will do whatever it takes to keep his team in the game. Bradford is not the most talented quarterback in the NFL, but he does what he can to keep his team in the game. Bradford is completing better than 60 percent of his passes and has an 18-11 TD-interception ratio. He reads defenses well, but he does not have the arm strength to make all the throws.The Bucs appear to be running out of gas in their first season under Greg Schiano. The Bucs had little in the tank against the Saints in Week 15. Josh Freeman has been a revelation for much of the season, but he is performing poorly at the end of the season. He is coming off a four-interception performance against the Saints in Week 15.
- OffenseSteven Jackson is a power runner with the ability to explode past tacklers. Jackson has rushed for 909 yards and he has a 4.0 yards per carry average. The Rams don’t have big-name receivers, but Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens have left it all on the field on an every-week basis. The offensive line has been decent but not special.The Bucs need to way to get Doug Martin going again, but that may be difficult at this point in the season. He has rushed for 1,250 yards and a 4.6 yards per carry average. Martin punishes opposing tackler and initiates contact. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson is capable of going over the top of the defense and making big plays.
- DefenseThe Rams base their defensive success on their ability to get after the quarterback. They have shown a real competitiveness and they have the 9th-rated pass defense and the 9th-rated overall defense. Linebacker James Laurinaitis has shown the ability to range sideline-to-sideline and he leads the team with 125 tackles. Robert Quinn leads the team with 9.5 sacks.The Bucs lack athleticism and make a lot of mistakes on the defensive end. Their positioning is almost always poor and that’s why they give up so many big plays. The Bucs rank dead last in the league against the pass and 29th overall. Don’t blame linebacker Lavonte David, who leads the team in tackles with 124 stops.
- Special TeamsThe Rams are confident that rookie placekicker Greg Zuerlein can hit the long field goal at the end of the game if that’s what the Rams need to win. Zuerlein has one of the strongest legs in the league and has made 7-of-12 of his attempts of 50 yards or longer.The Bucs have not been very good on special teams as they have been giving up yards and big plays on punt and kickoff returns. Connor Barth has made 23-of-28 FG attempts, including 6-of-9 from 50 yards or longer. Michael Koenen is averaging 45.2 yards per punt, but his net is just 37.3 yards per attempt.
The Rams got overwhelmed by Adrian Peterson and the Vikings’ running game while the Bucs got steamrolled by the Saints’ offense. It seems more likely the Rams have a little more left in the tank at this point, although they will have to get the job done on the road.