The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping to right the ship after three straight losses when they welcome the Los Angeles Rams to Raymond James Stadium in Week 9.
Not only have the Bucs dropped three straight this season, they’ve also lost their last three games against the Rams, including last year’s heartbreaking loss in the NFC divisional playoff round.
In what should be a star-studded showdown Sunday, here are the top matchups to watch:
Bucs WR Mike Evans vs. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey
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Anytime you get to watch two of the game’s best line up against one another, it’s must-see TV. That’s what we’ll get this week when Evans and Ramsey lock horns, pitting one future Hall of Famer against another.
Ramsey got beat by Evans in 1-on-1 coverage for a 55-yard touchdown in last year’s playoff game, so he’ll be wanting revenge for that. Evans will be hoping to do it again, and keep marching to a ninth straight 1,000-yard season.
Rams DL Aaron Donald vs. Bucs’ interior offensive line
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The weakest link on Tampa Bay’s entire roster has been the interior of the offensive line, which is terrible news when you’re going up against one of the best interior defenders in NFL history.
Tampa Bay has one veteran in right guard Shaq Mason who should be able to hold his own, but left guard Nick Leverett and center Robert Hainsey will need some additional help to keep Donald from getting to Brady early and often, as well as disrupting the ground game.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp vs. Bucs' secondary
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Kupp is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday, and limited him on Thursday. That said, after practicing on Friday, he didn’t get an injury designation for Sunday’s game, which means he’ll be ready to roll against a defense he’s torched time and time again.
The fact that Tampa Bay’s secondary is still banged up should make containing Kupp an even bigger challenge, even if he’s less than 100 percent himself.