State of The Buccaneers Week 4: The 6-Week Road Trip

  • The Los Angeles Rams seem primed for another Super Bowl run this year sitting at 3-0.
  • The Buccaneers are at risk of losing their season with a loss in Week 4.
  • Tampa Bay begins a 49-day road trip as they start in Los Angeles this weekend against the Rams.

LOS ANGELES – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could not have chosen a worse week to endure an 18-point comeback loss to the lowly New York Giants at the hands of a rookie quarterback. For starters, “1-2” and “2-1” may only be a one-game difference, but one looks much better on paper. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers are the former, sitting at 1-2 on the year and coming to the West coast to face last year’s Super Bowl team. The Los Angeles Rams are sitting pretty at 3-0 on the season and, by all means, look to carry that over into Week 4.

Start Of A Long Season

As mentioned earlier, Tampa Bay picked a terrible time to drop a game as they did against New York. Following the match, the Buccaneers were already mentally focused on the next 49 days - 49 days representing the number of days between the Giants' game last Sunday and the Buccaneers next home game. That's 49 days, 18,000 flight miles, six games, and two countries. Buccaneers head coach, Bruce Arians, would have preferred to head into the daunting schedule 2-1 and moving with momentum.

Keys To The Game (Los Angeles)

Get Gurley Going

Last week, the Rams held on to secure a 7-point victory on the road against the Cleveland Browns. One of the main reasons why the lead wasn’t larger was because the Browns defense was able to neutralize Todd Gurley from the running game. The Pro-Bowl running back finished last week’s contest with 43 yards on 14 carries. The Buccaneers come into town this week boasting the seventh-best run defense in the league, so the Rams have to find ways to make the offense more than one-dimensional.

Spread The Ball

The great thing about Los Angeles’ offense is that they’re loaded at the wide receiver position as well. Even though the Browns stuffed Gurley for pretty much the entire game, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks both had 100-yard receiving games and allowed enough offense for the Rams to secure the win. Quarterback Jarred Goff could use a coming-out game soon with the moderate-to-mediocre games he’s had to start the season so far.

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Keys To The Game (Tampa Bay)

Keep Jameis In The Pocket

The two big knacks on Jameis Winston are his inability to be a proven game-winner up until this point in his career and his ability to be turnover prone. Since joining the league in 2015, Jameis has 80 turnovers (62 interceptions, 18 lost fumbles). He leads that category since being drafted. However, when Winston has a clean pocket, he can look like a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. Last week in the Giants game it showed when he finished the game with 380 passing yards and three touchdowns. But keeping Jameis clean in the pocket against Dante Fowler, Aaron Donald, and Clay Matthews will be a challenge.

Stop The Run

Stopping the run will be crucial for the Buccaneers, which they have shown they can do. Saquon Barkley and Todd Gurley on back-to-back weeks can be deflating for the defense, but it has to get done. Vita Vea and Ndamakung Suh are absolute units at the defensive tackle positions and as a result, the edge rushers have been wreaking havoc in their one-on-ones. Rusher outside linebacker Shaq Barrett has been a menace off the edge for the Buccaneers, notching eight sacks in the first three weeks of the season and also becoming only the second NFL player to do so.

Final Verdict

The jury may be out on this one as early opening lines at sportsbooks for US players have the Buccaneers as double-digit underdogs (+10). It doesn’t help the Buccaneers that they are 1-8 SU in their last nine games against the Rams in LA. They’re also 0-6 ATS the in the last six games played against them as well. The Buccaneers have the offensive talent to keep the game interesting pointwise but come the second half when the defensive backs are getting tired of chasing Brandin Cooks, the Rams will start to slip away.