Rams vs Buccaneers Preview & Free Pick [November 23rd 2020]

LA Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay (7-3)
When: Monday, November 23rd, 2020
Where: Raymond James Stadium,
Tampa, Florida
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Tampa Bay -3.5/48.5

Week 11 ends with a great matchup featuring two team with Super Bowl aspirations when the Los Angeles Rams visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. The Rams are looking to stay in a tie atop the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks, but have traded wins and losses for the last five games. They’re coming off a huge win last week against the Seahawks at home, but will face a more formidable defense in Tampa Bay. The Bucs come in winners of four of five with the only loss being one of the ugliest of Tom Brady’s career. He bounced back last week to help lift Tampa to a 46-23 at the Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay is a half-game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South entering Week 11 and it’s their defense that has been the biggest surprise. They rank tops in the NFL in rushing defense (76.6) and rank third in total defense (300.3). Tampa Bay stands eighth in scoring defense (22.6) and ninth in passing defense (223.7). This will be the first of three straight home games for the Buccaneers, who play four of their last six games at Raymond James Stadium.

The teams met in Week 4 of the 2019 season and it was a classic, with Tampa Bay coming away with a wild 55-40 in Los Angeles. Tampa Bay comes in as the home favorite of four points despite their recent mark against NFC opponents. The Bucs are just 5-10 against the spread (ATS) in their last 15 games in conference, while the Rams have covered four of their last five versus the NFC South. The total 48.5, with the Bucs having gone 6-4 to the Over for the season, while the Rams are just 2-7. L.A. has actually gone below the total in each of their past six games.

The Rams are pretty good defensively as well, ranking second in the NFL in point allowed per game at 18.7. Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald (nine sacks) leads the way for a unit that allows less than 300 yards a game and is third in defending the pass (296.4 yards per game). The Rams are just 19th in scoring offense (24.0), but quarterback Jared Goff has recorded back-to-back 300-yard passing games. He has passed for 2,447 yards and 13 touchdowns against six interceptions on the season. Only once since September have the Rams scored more than 24 points in a game. L.A. has lost standout left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) for up to eight weeks after getting injured in last Sunday’s win over Seattle. Joe Noteboom will start in his place. The Rams will host San Francisco next Sunday.

With Brady and all the wide receivers at his disposal, people tend to forget about Ronald Jones. The running back enters Week 11 ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards with 730, and has the second-best YPC average (5.1) of any running back in the top 10 in rushing. He’s coming off a 192-yard, one-touchdown performance vs. the Panthers. Meanwhile, Brady has passed for 2,739 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first season in Tampa and the Bucs rank seventh in the NFL in scoring offense (29.6). Recently acquired wideout Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 69 yards last week. On the injury-front, Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) was limited in practice but should be good to go on Monday. Guard Ali Marpet (concussion) practiced on Thursday and is hopeful of playing after missing the previous two games. The Bucs will host Kansas City next week before finally having a bye week.

This game will ultimately be won by the Tampa Bay defense, who will pressure Goff into making mistakes. Goff historically doesn’t do well under pressure and Tampa Bay blitzes like crazy. I’ll lay the points with the Bucs.

Pick: Bucs -4.5
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