The matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be an NFC championship preview and the football gods have gifted us the game in Week 3. If you decided to purely draft LA and Tampa Bay players in your fantasy football league you honestly might win it all. Both teams are star-studded and feature players on route to Hall of Fame ballots.
Showdown at SoFi Stadium. pic.twitter.com/Xm3nHb0tLO— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 25, 2021
In a city meant for the famous, it will be SoFi stadium harboring all the stars as LA and the Bucs collide in what should be a spectacle of brilliance for all to see on Sunday. These are four matchups you should keep a close eye on during the game.
Jalen Ramsey vs. Everyone
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers boast one of, if not the most, talented group of pass catchers in the NFL. Though they may likely be without wide receiver Antonio Brown after he tested positive for Covid-19, LA’s defense will have its hands full guarding the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and tight end Rob Gronkowski, which begs the question, who does Jalen Ramsey cover?
Rob Gronkowski catches his league-leading 4th TD of the year pic.twitter.com/QJwBIHQQQE— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 19, 2021
The answer might just be everyone. Ramsey has been moved all over on defense in order to be more involved in every play, showcasing not only his coverage abilities, but also highlighting his tackling prowess. Against the Chicago Bears in Week 1, Ramsey was the lead tackler for the first time in a Rams uniform. Though he would not get as many tackles in week two, he was able to come away with his first interception of the season.
Bruce Arians said he expects to see Ramsey on Mike Evans a lot though.
"IT'S PICKED! JALEN RAMSEY AT THE RIGHT SIDELINE!"— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 21, 2021
️ | Radio Call of the Game: Securing the Week 2 win pic.twitter.com/zg3CBWUeTx
If anyone can diagnose where Ramsey is lining up on defense though, it is Brady. The ageless quarterback has appeared to have mastered the game of football after throwing five touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons last week, two of them going to one of his favorite targets in Gronkowski. It will not be enough to just isolate one player with Ramsey with the amount of tools at Brady’s disposal, so expect to see Ramsey everywhere on Sunday.
A slight advantage might come in Ramsey’s favor against Brady and company after changing jersey numbers this offseason due to a rule modification that was approved for 2021, a rule change that Brady was not much a fan of.
Rams backfield vs. Bucs defensive line
The Rams backfield is a rollercoaster that I know longer want to be on, yet all of us are strapped in to see it through until the end. Though we may not know exactly who is starting against the Bucs this Sunday after Darrell Henderson suffered a rib injury against the Indianapolis Colts, there is some positivity going into Week 3 after watching Sony Michel have success on the ground after the Henderson injury.
Though LA has yet to have a 100 yard rusher in its first two games, Henderson has been effective on the ground after averaging 4.24 yards a carry. His name also has not been called upon much yet, as he has just 29 carries in 2 games. McVay has been tending to air it out at the beginning of games, taking a lead, and the leaning heavy on the run to close the match up. Of course, Henderson is not doing it all on his own. The Rams offensive line has been one of the best in the league thus far, only allowing one sack in each of their games.
Darrell Henderson RB1 pic.twitter.com/7riAmCSIO8— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 19, 2021
That formula may not work against a Bucs defense that has been great against the run. They held Ezekiel Elliot to just 33 yards in Week 1, and Mike Davis to just 38 yards the following week and their success thus far is not surprising. Their line contains big names such as Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Vita Vea.
During a press conference on Wednesday, offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell explained the difficulties Tampa’s defensive line can cause, (11:38) “They have one of the most impressive defensive groups personnel wise in the league, there’s no questioning that... the guys up front make it hard to run the ball.”
Tampa Bay’s offense also might be a factor in the Rams run game. If Brady and company can get points on the board, McVay will most likely go pass heavy with Stafford.
Cooper Kupp vs Carlton Davis III
Cooper Kupp has been absolutely phenomenal in his first two games with Stafford, and as the two continue to build rapport with one another it should only get better. It also helps that Kupp seems to be wide open on almost every snap, which may be a mix of superb route running and offensive scheme. Kupp is currently fifth in receiving yards with 271 and also already has three touchdowns.
Carlton Davis III may not have to guard Kupp on every play, but when he does it will be fun to watch. The second round draft pick in 2018 made a name for himself last season when he finished with four interceptions and 18 passes defended. In two games in 2021 he currently has one interception and four passes defended, but Tampa’s secondary have been a weak point this season. Against the Cowboys Amari Cooper was able to put up 139 yards and two touchdowns while second year receiver CeeDee Lamb added 104 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Last time the two saw each other Kupp completely destroyed the Buccaneer’s secondary, going for 145 yards on 11 receptions. Davis also had some trouble defending Kupp, at one point getting completely juked out of his cleats when he bit hard on Kupp’s route.
If Davis and the rest of the secondary cannot lock up Kupp, it could be a field day for the third game in a row for him and the second time in as many seasons.
Tom Brady vs. SoFi stadium
Expect SoFi stadium to be rocking during America’s game of the week. Against the Chicago Bears in Week 1, Stanley Kroenke’s temple to football proved to be the homefield advantage that the Rams have desperately needed in the regular season. Brady has been in many hostile situations in his career and come out successful on the other end, but there is something truly magical about the $5.5 billon masterpiece.
A packed SoFi Stadium looks and sounds incredible. pic.twitter.com/6r4sEid6yo— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) September 13, 2021
Will Brady be able to win his first game ever in LA? Or will the fans be the advantage needed to secure the win against the Super Bowl champs? We will see in one of the best matchups of the season this Sunday.
What matchups are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!