Week 15 starts tonight on Thursday Night Football with the St. Louis Rams hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what could be their final game in St. Louis. If this is the final Rams game in St. Louis, the fans will hope they have a better game tonight than they have season so far. A promising start fell apart when they forgot to give the best player the ball for several weeks. They’ve seemingly changed that, so hopefully the Rams can send St. Louis fans home happy with a win rather than with their new jersey. The Buccaneers will be donning new threads tonight as well but, unlike the Rams, they aren’t the brightest thing about their season so far. Though the playoffs are a longshot for the Bucs, they remain in the mix thanks to a resurgence from Doug Martin and the great pick of Jameis Winston in the draft.
Three keys to the game:
1. The Buccaneers offensive line
The Bucs offensive line has been one of their biggest weaknesses for the last few years but they have played much better this year, paving the way for vastly improved Doug martin and keeping their rookie QB on his feet. It’s key that that continues tonight against a strong defensive line. The Bucs have been most successful on offense when Winston has a clean pocket and when Martin can take a lot of the weight off Winston’s shoulders.
2. The Buccaneers front-7
The Rams have Jameis Winston’s main threat to the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and he is in their background. Todd Gurley, following his return to form, will likely see the ball a lot again so the Bucs front seven has the huge task of slowing him down. Luckily, 2 of the Bucs best players are in their front seven in Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy. If they shut Gurley down, the Rams offense doesn’t have much else to offer.
3. The Rams offensive line
I’ve mentioned a few times recently that Gurley has to be given the ball more, but when he is given the ball he could do without being hit in the backfield. He’ll likely get a lot of touches tonight so the o-line have to make sure he has at least some time to make a move or head downfield. A clean pocket wouldn’t be a bad thing either for a struggling passing game.
Match-up to watch: Todd Gurley vs. Lavonte David
Two of the best young players in the league and lucky for us they’ll be going head-to-head. Gurley is the feature of this Rams offense and has been very good for the majority of this year – he is just 25 yards away from 1000 yards despite starting only 10 games – and figures to get a lot of carries tonight. This means one of the best linebackers in the league will have the task of shutting him down. David is one of the more athletic linebackers who will be able to match Gurley to the sideline or overpower him. This should be a great match-up.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I think the Rams defense is slightly better than the Bucs defense, but I think the Bucs offense is far better than the Rams offense. The Rams have Todd Gurley and I think the Bucs defense will be able to limit this offense to just a few scores. The Bucs have Doug Martin, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and most importantly a QB, Jameis Winston, and I think will be able to outscore the Rams.