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3 bold predictions for Rams-Bucs: A defensive struggle for 4 quarters

Expect Tom Brady & Matthew Stafford to have rough outings in Week 9

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Week 9 matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a clash between two former NFC conference powers that are desperate to gain traction in 2022.

The Bucs are 3-5 and a loss would make contending a tall order this season, especially with the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons showing they are ahead of their team building plan.

The Rams are looking to get back to .500 and keep pace with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. If they can get to 4-4, they’ll earn a clean slate for the remaining nine games on the season - and they are slowly but surely getting healthier too.

Neither of these teams will go down easy on Sunday afternoon, and both are going to scratch and claw as they cling to relevancy.

Here are three bold predictions for the 2021 NFC divisional round rematch:

1 - Matthew Stafford & Tom Brady will have two turnovers apiece

Stafford has turned the ball over multiple times in 4 of LA’s 7 games.

Brady has not had multiple turnovers yet this season, but he’s been playing with fire in recent weeks. The timeless wonder just hasn’t look like himself late, and the Bucs’ passing game is extremely constricted.

Los Angeles missed at least three opportunities to get the ball back for their offense last week against the 49ers, but this time they will make the most of those chances.

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

2 - Rams will rush for over 125 yards

Vita Vea is a force in the middle of the Tampa Bay defensive line, but he can’t carry the weight of the defense all on his own.

Tampa struggles to stop the run, and the Rams aren’t a team well-equipped to take advantage of that weakness - they amassed only 56 yards on 21 carries last week against a San Francisco defense that was without Arik Armstead.

Week 9 will be a different story for Los Angeles. Whether the returning Cam Akers gives the offense a spark, Kyren Williams has a strong NFL debut, or Ronnie Rivers makes the most of his opportunities, the Rams are going to get production on the ground.

3 - Matthew Stafford won’t get sacked a single time

Much has been made of LA’s struggles along the offensive line, but the unit is getting somewhat healthier and has played better in pass protection in recent weeks. This progress is evident through the two games against the 49ers - Stafford was sacked 7 times in Week 4 but only twice a week ago.

Outside of Vea, Tampa doesn’t have much to offer in terms of pass rush. Shaquil Barrett tore his Achilles last week and will miss the remainder of the season. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has been disappointing as a former first round pick, and he’s one of the most inefficient pass rushers across the NFL the last two seasons.

Things are setting up for a “get right” game for the Rams’ offensive line, though Stafford owns some share of the weight and needs to get rid of the ball within the rhythm and timing of the offensive structure. If he’s not overly aggressive, the OL will keep him upright on Sunday afternoon.