Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- For better or worse, get ready to watch Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford throw the ball a lot.
- These teams played twice last season, combining for 58 and 57 points in the respective games, with the Rams winning both times.
- These teams have a combined 6-9 record, and this game has a total of only 42.5, which would have shocked pretty much anyone back in August.
- Cooper Kupp’s injury status will have a huge effect on how this game plays out and the ability of the Rams to pose a threat.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams continue to be a shell of themselves from last year, failing to score over 20 points for the 5th time this season in Week 8 against the 49ers despite coming out of a bye and getting healthier. The Rams defense has been adequate, but not dominant, this season, and the offense hasn’t been able to separate on pretty much anyone. Their core issues are their inability to run the ball and their inability to protect Matthew Stafford against competent pass rushes. Also, they have become pretty predictable in the passing game as their heavy focus on Cooper Kupp and inability to establish other explosive threats keeps them from putting fear in any defenses.
Entering this week, the Rams are in a tough spot from a game plan perspective. Their backfield is in absolute shambles and is completely unpredictable ::
- Ronnie Rivers (who?) started and played the most snaps for them last week, coming out of the bye, with little success.
- Darrell Henderson has consistently had a role of some sort, but either isn’t fully healthy or has fallen out of favor as he’s had double-digit touches just twice in their last five games.
- Cam Akers may be back with the team this week after not being traded (but who knows in what capacity)
- There has been talk about rookie Kyren Williams sparking things in his return from IR, but this is a 5th round rookie who hasn’t played in months – he’s not likely to immediately change things for them.
Overall, the Rams offense ranks 31st in the NFL in both yards per carry and rushing yards per game. This inability to run the ball is going to be a huge problem this week. They clearly don’t know who to run the ball with, and their scheme and blocking haven’t been getting things done, either. The Bucs run defense is not as good as years past, but it is not so bad that a bad running game is going to all of a sudden become strong because of the matchup.
The status of Cooper Kupp will ultimately determine the approach of the Rams in this game. As discussed in past weeks, the Rams are playing at a sloth-like pace this season after playing an uptempo game in 2021. This methodical approach will likely continue this week, and the Rams will rely heavily on their passing game if Kupp is able to play and is not significantly limited. However, if Kupp is out, then the potential of this Rams offense will be severely limited, and they may have no choice but to try to lean on their running game early in the hopes of keeping the game low-scoring and squeaking out a victory in the 4th quarter.
How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::
- This is an incredibly interesting game to me, as it’s hard to let go of the idea that “Rams vs Bucs” could feature a contest in which both teams right the ship and we end up with a shootout on our hands
- Of course, this is a low-likelihood outcome, given what we have seen from each team so far this year; but there’s a chance that it’s not as “low-likelihood” as ownership will indicate, which will likely make this a game through which I leverage late-week ownership projections to help me make my decisions
- Tom Brady // Mike Evans // Chris Godwin // Cooper Kupp // Van Jefferson // Tyler Higbee
- That’s my list of players from this game (with Matthew Stafford obviously in play as well — though given that Brady topped 30 DK points eight times last season, compared to only two such games for Stafford, I’ll feel relatively comfortable assuming that a game environment in which Stafford is worth rostering in tourneys is a game environment in which Brady is outscoring him)
- Van Jefferson played 53.4% of the snaps last week in his first game action, and is likelier to be in the 70% range this week; he averaged 5.2 targets per game last season, and — as explored last week — had games with DK scores of 16.0 // 21.0 // 14.3 // 18.3 // 16.1 // 14.8, giving him a really nice ceiling at his bottom-barrel price tag, against a defense allowing an uncharacteristic aDOT of 8.1 (closer to the “higher end” than to the “lower end”; for context, the Rams are facing the lowest opponent aDOT at 5.5 yards, while the man-coverage-heavy Patriots are allowing the deepest aDOT at 9.3), while also uncharacteristically ranking middle of the pack in pressure rate
- Obviously, Kupp comes with risk, but ceiling, while Higbee is suddenly A) underpriced on DK and B) probably likely to go a bit overlooked now that the shine has worn off this play with a couple disappointing games
- Summing up everything:
- Brady-led game stacks are in play for me here, as are one-offs of Kupp, Van Jefferson, and Higbee
- I’m not certain I’ll play any of this, but all of this is certainly in mind