Today's game is about as must win as it gets in week 3, and particularly important considering the Rams next face a Cowboys team firing on all cylindars and a divisional match up with Arizona after that.
Tampa's the softest spot on the early schedule, and a playing on the road just might do this team a favor, getting them away from the spotlight and microscope of negative attention after a 0-2 start at home.
TB had a decent showing last week, beating the disappointing Saints, but got beat by Seattle hte week before. Their defensive line has done well against the run, but they've been unable to generate much of a pass rush, totaling only four sacks on the season so far. They'll be looking to rush this week on the Rams beat up front line, so getting the running game going early and often will be key to keeping Bulger's ribs from getting mashed up.
Setting up the run will also be important to spreading the Bucs defense out and taking advantage of a pass defense ranked 23rd in the league (18% DVOA). Tampa CB Brian Kelly should be back this week, which will boost ehir pass defense just a bit. Above all the Rams need points, lots and lots of points.
On the other side of the ball, if the defense plays like they did last week I'd be a pretty happy man. Tampa plays a fairly standard West Coast offense behind an invigorated Jeff Garcia. That also means that the backfield will get a lot more work than they did against a fairly inneffective Alex Smith. The linebackers' play will be important here, keeping them from completing over the middle and forcing our D to stay on the field too long. Tampa has allowed five sacks this season, but the Rams front is looking like their increasingly capable of penetrating and they'll want ot get little his first sack of the year.
Head over to Buc 'Em for some more insight from the Tampa Bay side of things.