As we prepare to kickoff for week four, the Los Angeles Rams will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a chance to begin the first quarter of the season with a perfect 4-0 record. Analyzing both rosters, I’ve finalized my matchups to watch, which could dictate the outcome of the game.
Let’s get into it:
LT Andrew Whitworth versus EDGE Shaq Barrett
Edge Shaq Barrett is one of the best players in the league this season, leading the entire NFL by a wide margin with his eight sacks through three weeks. Actually, Barrett has more sacks on his own than 17 teams in 2019. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is as good as it gets, and he’ll need to be to slow down Barrett, who’s already had two contests with 3+ sacks. Barrett has a knack for knocking the ball loose too, doubling down on the effectiveness of a sack with a fumble, meaning quarterback Jared Goff has to continue to be aware of where #58 lines up.
DT Aaron Donald versus Bucs’ iOL
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is as good as a player as you’ll ever see. This week he gets an optimal matchup against the Bucs’ interior offensive line as left guard Ali Marpet is a fantastic player, though center Ryan Jensen and right guard Alex Cappa are not. Donald — and his comrades — need to watch out for Jensen and his BS tactics, though they could very well wreak havoc against Jensen and Cappa, forcing mistake-prone quarterback Jameis Winston into some highly questionable decisions.
CB’s Aqib Talib/Marcus Peters versus WR Mike Evans
After having his picture slapped on milk cartons across the country by the angry fantasy football mob, wide receiver Mike Evans announced himself in a major way in week three, totaling eight receptions for 190 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. This week, the Rams’ duo at boundary cornerback in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will have their hands full, though both matchup well with the tall jump-ball receiver.
WR Brandin Cooks versus CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has statistically bested himself in every week throughout the season thus far, with the potential to do it again today versus Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves is what you’d call a liability in the passing game, making him a massive target as he’ll likely cover a lot of (majority of) Cooks in this contest.
QB Jared Goff versus QB Jameis Winston
Yes, the two don’t play each other, though these two former first-overall draft picks are set to duel each other in what will likely decide the contest. Winston is an absolutely mistake-prone quarterback (six turnovers) who lacks the football IQ needed from the position, whereas Goff has been far more careful and effective in his career, though his 2019 season hasn’t exactly been what we’ve come to expect from Goff as he also currently has six turnovers.