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Turf Show Times Week 2, Rams/Bucs Predictions Roundtable

Twelve of TST’s experts make their prognostications for the St. Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 2 NFL matchup...

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
The St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both look to secure their first victory on Sunday.  With injuries piling up for both teams, here’s how a few of TST’s finest see this Week 2 matchup panning out...

Douglas M [@thenovelroad]

More hangs in the balance for the Rams than I'd like to see this early in the 2014 NFL season. Sussing out who will play quarterback - and do so with a modicum of competence - is the elephant in the room. Down to - possibly - the third string QB in Austin Davis, and last season's worst team's castoff, Case Keenum, the Rams don't have what I'd call a quality problem to solve. The key will be how well the Rams offensive line can establish the ability to RUN THE BALL. If Zac Stacy tops 100 yards, the Rams will be in this game.

On defense, Chris Long will be missed, but position depth should fill the void. Turnovers and field position could be the keys in this game, as well as time on the field. "Three and outs" will be the turning point for the Rams defense. The Rams linebacker corp will be in the spotlight, in both run and pass coverage.

I look for a low scoring game, since both offenses taking the field have rather glaring problems.

Rams - 17, Bucs - 13

EddieP [@IAmEddieP_]

With the new starting quarterback - Shaun Hill - questionable for Sunday, the Rams might be starting Austin Davis. Yes, the original third QB. If that's not bad enough, this offensive line cannot block for shit (sic). Zac Stacy will not be able to get anything going against Tampa Bay's strong D-Line.

Bucs 27, Rams - 13

Frank "Dubs" Dobozy [@Bozy1313]

QB Shaun Hill is questionable for Sunday's game, still recovering from a thigh injury suffered in the season-opener. The Rams will keep this game close, and will beat the 7 point spread. The result will likely come down to performances from Hill (or Austin Davis) vs. Josh McCown, and Zac Stacy vs. Doug Martin. If Shaun Hill plays, the Rams can pull this one out! 

Rams -13, Bucs - 17

Tevin Broner [@T_Bron]

This is a must win for the Rams, the Bucs are by far the easiest team they have for a while. But can they pull it out? The Bucs receivers might be too big for the secondary to handle. Also who is going to lead the Rams? Austin Davis? The Rams should win, but they should have won last week. 

Bucs - 24, Rams - 17

Joe Stanfill [@papapegasus]

The Rams travel to Tampa to take on the scurvy dogs of the high seas who sit at 0-1. Neither team has shined like a gold doubloon so far this year. One thing sticks out for me in this matchup, and that is the defense. Ye Buccaneers allowed a Carolina Panthers team with a backup quarterback to convert 40% on 3rd down. Whilst the Rams D allowed a meager 25% conversion rate to the pillaging Vikings of the North. Expect ye Rams defense to come out looking for blood after being embarrassed last week like a wee pirate getting dropped of at school by his ma in a bathrobe and curlers. Expect a ground and pound effort from both offenses. They'll be pounding the rock like a nasty winch during the off-season. 

Rams - 24, Bucs - 17

Mike Dietrich [@dvond]

Austin Davis throws 3 ints and Bucs large physical receivers dominate the depleted Rams secondary. We get a glimpse of Case Keenum at the end due to the beating that Davis takes with the Rams porous OL. 

Bucs - 20, Rams - 6

Joe Mazzi [@Joe__Mazzi]

In what may be week 2's ugliest dogfight, the Rams and Buccaneers will attempt to usurp 50 Cent atop SportsCenter's "Not Top 10" plays. Whoever fails, wins. Zac Stacy and Co. should have success on the ground as the Bucs are without their two starting defensive ends (Adrian Clayborn and Michael Johnson); however, Tampa Bay's secondary is much, much stronger than Minnesota's. For St. Louis to have a chance, they need to set the tone and score early, because they won't often. I have serious doubts that the Rams are capable of overcoming a two-score deficit in 2014, but they won't have to in this one. 

Rams - 17, Bucs - 16

northwestRAMSfan [@troilus22]

The St. Louis Rams, much like their fans, have to be eager to forget last weeks debacle at home. Perhaps a change of scenery will do this team some good, as they seemed a little flat and unprepared in the season opener. If the team had started buying into the media hype of the offseason, the beatdown they received at home surely brought them crashing back to reality. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were thoroughly dominated by the Carolina Panthers, who were minus Cam Newton in week 1. With the newly acquired Logan Mankins going down with a knee injury, the already shaky offensive line could give the Rams defensive front a chance to get back on track. The loss of Chris Long is going to impact this team, but the teams depth along the defensive line should allow them to continue to pressure the QB. The secondary will have a tall order ahead of them, quite literally, as Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans will both tower over the Rams CBs.

The real question heading into this game is, can the offensive line actually show up for this game? They were hands down the worst performing unit in week 1 and their inability to open running lanes killed the gameplan against the Vikings. Even before the loss of Sam Bradford in the preseason this team wanted to be a power running team with a fierce defense. The teams entire identity is predicated on the first part of that equation, and if the Rams offensive line can't get it together soon the defense will continue to be on the field too often and in unfavorable situations. As a Rams fan I have hope they can pull it together against the Bucs, but it certainly isn't going to be easy.  

Rams - 13, Bucs - 10.

3k [@3k_]

This week's a tough proposition. You're now down your LDE Chris Long to go with your QB1 in Sam Bradford, CB2 Trumaine Johnson and WR? Stedman Bailey. Add in a knock to the backup QB Shaun Hill and LG Rodger Saffold, and the attrition is starting to pile up. 

That would normally be concerning enough. More problematic is that last Sunday happened. It happened in a way that took the wind out of our sails as fans and as a franchise. How does this offense put together a semblance of an attack? How does the offensive line regain the upper hand? How can the defense possibly withstand another onslaught without any support from the other half of the team? 

I think you have to get back to basics. The line needs to get physical. You have to start winning individual plays by force. The coaches have to get the team off this penalty dependence that serves to do little more than kill drives. You've got to get a running game going to soften the pass defense. A year ago, the Minnesota Vikings were 16th in the entire league in rushing yards allowed. As of right now, they're 7th thanks to the listless ground game the Rams put up. That more than anything has to change. 

If the Rams get something out of their offensive line to allow Zac Stacy to run through and over defenders and allow Benny Cunningham to run around them, I'll give us a shot. If we can't get it working on the ground? Overreaction Monday is gonna be a blast... 

Rams - 20, Bucs - 17

Papa_Lurch

With both teams coming of disappointing Week 1 showings, this will be a hard fought battle to avoid 0-2. Veteran coaches Jeff Fisher and Lovie Smith will have both teams ready, even with injuries mounting on both sides. The Rams will be missing 3 starters (Bradford, Long, & Johnson) and possibly starting their 3rd string QB if Shaun Hill isn't ready. The Bucs will be without both of their starting DEs as Adrian Claiborne was placed on IR this week and Michael Johnson out with an ankle injury. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins will miss the game with an ankle injury. Their injury report also lists studs Doug Martin and Logan Mankins as questionable. 

On the outside, the Bucs have size on their side with V-Jax and 1st round pick Mike Evans. For those that don't recall, EJ Gaines held Evans to 8 yards when Mizzou played Texas Tech last year...so I'm not concerned about a big game from him. V-Jax is another story though. With Janoris Jenkins' propensity to gamble, I expect Jackson to have a decent game, possibly busting loose for a long TD at some point. The Bucs retooled OL doesn't scare me in the slightest, particularly with Mankins being hurt. I wouldn't be surprised if the Rams DL dominated at the point of attack and was able to neutralize the TB running game. 

With the Bucs DL being as beat up as it is, the Rams can double team Gerald McCoy all day and not bat an eye. This is the perfect opportunity for the Rams OL to show us that last week was a fluke. Unless Lavonte David plays out of his mind (which is quite possible...kids a stud), I think the Rams ground game really gets rolling this week. The Rams passing attack likely depends on the WRs this week. Yes, the QB has to get them the ball, but getting separation will be key to aiding whomever is tossing the rock this week. Brian Quick showed that he can get open against Xavier Rhodes in Week 1, but doing the same against Alterraun Verner will prove to be much more difficult. The passing game will be an uphill battle this week.  

All of the injuries make this a really difficult game to peg. I think that the Rams will double down on the physicality and running game to come away with a win. This pick might have been different if the Bucs were healthier.  

Rams - 20, Bucs - 16.

Brandon Bate [@NoPlanB_]

It’s always going to be a tough call when Brian Schottenheimer is calling the plays on offense.  Where was the ground game for much of Week 1?  Where will it be in Week 2?  The Bucs defensive line has been marred by injuries, so this would be a perfect opportunity for the Rams - and Zac Stacy - to [re]establish the rushing attack that served them so well in 2013.   

On the flip side of the coin, I think Gregg Williams’ defense is in for a big day.  Bucs’ QB Josh McCown, behind a shaky offensive line, struggled getting rid of the ball in a timely manner last week, and a stout Panthers’ defense caused them fits most of the afternoon.  Despite the absence of mainstay Chris Long, the Rams still have a size and speed combo to get to the QB; creating opportunities for sacks [which the Rams have none of], and turnovers. 

It looks like it’s Austin Davis at the helm again this week, which is less than ideal.  The Rams’ offense will need to prove efficient, minimize mental mistakes, and put Davis in 3rd and manageable positions.  If they can do that, I think they win.  Lots of Greg Zuerlein though...

Rams - 16, Bucs - 13

Misone [@MightyorMisone]

I would say that this is going to be a game where the defense really shines. I believe the defense holds Doug Martin to about 80 yards, and gets after Josh McCown. There's not many guys on this team more respected than Chris Long, and the defense really stands behind this guy. I think instead of seeing a depleted defense, we see one fired up looking to win one for their leader. This could be a big game for Alec Ogletree and and our corners. With the front seven getting after McKown, I expect some errant throws and the the secondary taking advantage of one or two of them. The big question for me remains the Rams offensive line.

Will they be able to get their heads out of their asses and hold their water this week? Far too many false starts - and on your home field at that - for me to feel comfortable saying that they will up their game. But if by some chance they do, the Rams could very well have upward of 30 rush attempts this game. The biggest issue on the line is Scott Wells vs Gerald McCoy. Realistically speaking, Well is about to get his ass kicked all afternoon. He just does not have the physical ability to match his mental.   Overall, I think the Rams receivers will be the difference. I think they make some plays against these suspect Buccaneer corners. 

Rams - 27, Bucs - 17

...And there you have it.  Eight out of twelve TSTer’s have the Rams securing their first win of the season.  Here’s to an exciting game where neither team sustains [further] injury.  Go Rams!