Aaron Donald and the Rams look to improve to 4-0 when they host the Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be traveling to United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this upcoming Sunday to take on the Los Angeles Rams.
Tampa Bay is coming off a brutal loss to the New York Giants where they blew an 18-point lead. That defeat puts the team's record at a pedestrian 1-2. Meanwhile, the Rams (3-0) have opened their NFC title defense a perfect 3-0 but have yet to look really impressive in any of their games.
It will be interesting to see if Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and company can stop that LA momentum as both teams reach the quarter point of the regular season.
Tampa Bay at Los Angeles
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 29 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Spread: Rams -9
Three Things to Watch
1. Tampa Bay... road warriors?
The sample size is way too small to be able to get an accurate representation, but it is worth noting that Tampa Bay is 0-2 on the season at home and 1-0 on the road.
Yet again, that is not enough of a sample size to label these Buccaneers "road warriors." But it might be time to consider it if they come away with a victory, especially considering it would be against one of the last unbeaten teams in the NFL. The Tampa Bay defense put up its best effort in the 20-14 Week 2 win in Carolina, holding Christian McCaffrey to just 37 rushing yards and sacking Cam Newton three times.
2. Can the Shaq sack streak continue?
In many ways, Shaq Barrett was a castoff on the Denver Broncos. He put up decent numbers (22.0 sacks in his last four seasons), but the team elected not to re-sign him when his contract came up for renewal.
Well, the Broncos' loss is Tampa Bay’s gain. Barrett leads the NFL in sacks (8.0) in 2019, which includes 7.0 sacks over the last two games alone.
The Rams are in the middle of the pack when it comes to sacks allowed (2.0 per game), but the tackle duo of Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein is usually steady. Can Barrett continue to find success on Sunday?
3. Which version of Jameis Winston shows up?
Winston had a rocky start to the season. In the 31-17 Week 1 loss to San Francisco, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft threw for less than 200 yards while tossing three interceptions (plus two fumbles) and only one touchdown. To make matters worse, two of Winston's picks were returned for touchdowns by the 49ers.
Since then, he's produced 588 passing yards, four touchdowns and only one interception in the last two weeks. He has been sacked seven times during that span (and 10 on the season) so that's definitely something to keep an eye on going up against a Rams defense that features two-time reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
Are Winston's recent numbers sustainable for a guy who has thrown 62 interceptions in 59 career games? The answer to that question will go a long way in determining if the Bucs have a chance to at least keep things close on Sunday.
The Buccaneers have a lot of offensive talent, but the defense still leaves a lot to be desired — especially with rookie linebacker Devin White possibly on the shelf for a second consecutive week.
Combine that with being on the road against Sean McVay' high-powered offense, and it does not exactly look like a recipe for success for Tampa Bay.
In the end, the Rams prove to be too much and move to 4-0 on the season. Meanwhile, the Bucs fall to 1-3 in Arians' first season as head coach.
Prediction: Rams 27, Buccaneers 17
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.