The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dealing with a depleted offensive line as they prepare for their NFL playoff divisional round game against the L.A. Rams Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Market maker SuperBook USA opened with Tampa Bay -2.5, and the consensus was -3 across the sports betting landscape as of Thursday morning. Caesars Sportsbook was dealing Tampa -3 (-110), and FanDuel was offering Bucs -3 (-104). PointsBet was an outlier with Bucs -2.5 (-115).
L.A. Rams (13-5, 9-9 ATS) at Tampa Bay Bucs (14-4, 10-8 ATS)
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Line: Bucs -3 (48.5)
The skinny: The Rams will be looking to earn their third straight win against QB Tom Brady and the Bucs over the past two seasons when they meet in this NFC matchup of division champions.
Facts: In Week 11 of 2020, then-Rams QB Jared Goff passed for 376 yards in a 27-24 victory as a 4-point road underdog. He had 51 throws and never got a sacked.
Then, in Week 3 this season, the Rams were 34-24 winners in L.A. as a 1-point dog with new L.A. QB Matthew Stafford throwing for four TDs and no INTs. In that game, the Bucs had only 35 rushing yards, remarkably led by Tom Brady’s 14 yards on three carries. That was with RBs Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette in the lineup, too. It was Tampa Bay’s only loss this regular season against an eventual playoff team in six outings. L.A. went 2-5.
In the Bucs’ 31-15 home wild-card win over Philadelphia on Sunday, they flustered the Eagles and QB Jalen Hurts for the first three-plus quarters before giving up two late TDs. TB held the league’s top rushing team to 95 ground yards, the first time in Philly’s past 13 games it was below 100.
The Rams, meanwhile, pulverized visiting Arizona 34-11 on Monday night, taking a 28-0 lead before the Cardinals had their fourth first down.
Thus, not only is L.A. making its fourth trip to the Eastern time zone this year (3-0 SU/1-2 ATS), but it’s also having to play on short rest. As mentioned in previous forecasts, teams have a cumulative record of 9-26 in the wild-card era in the playoffs when having short prep/rest time against a team on normal rest or off a bye.
The Rams were in this short-rest spot last regular season, heading to Miami after a MNF game and losing to the Dolphins 28-17 as a 3-point favorite.
Analysis: The Buccaneers seemed to have weathered the injury barrage to their skill-set guys, with WRs Chris Godwin (IR) and Antonio Brown (cut) not playing last week, as well as the top two RBs in Jones (still questionable/ankle) and Fournette (very questionable/hamstring).
But it’s a whole different thing with trouble along the offensive line, specifically ORT Tristan Wirfs, the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft, who injured an ankle early last week. He had to leave the contest after gamely trying to stick it out. His replacement, Josh Wells, also played with a limp, and was often steamrolled against the Eagles. That was the main reason Brady got sacked four times, matching his most in a game the past four years (and four more times than the Eagles got to him in Week 6 of the regular season.)
And then there’s center Ryan Jensen, who injured an ankle in last week’s game and played somewhat stiff afterward.
Now, they’ll be going against the dynamic Rams defensive front line featuring Aaron Donald up the middle and ex-Broncos stud Von Miller barreling in from the outside. This could look familiar to Bucs fans after they watched the Tampa Bay defense rampage through Kansas City’s depleted offensive line in last season’s Super Bowl.
Rams at Bucs Pick
Rams 27, Bucs 21
Last week: 3-3 ATS, 4-2 SU
Season total: 128-134-3 (.489) ATS, 163-101-1 (.617) SU
Also read: NFL Playoffs Betting Line Moves: Divisional Round | Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Tennessee Titans Odds: Take Tennessee Over Cincy In NFL Playoffs | Super Bowl 2022 Odds At DraftKings, FanDuel: Bills, Bucs Offer Value