Game Scout: Bucs at Rams

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) at St. Louis Rams (6-8)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin
*Keys to the game: Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon confessed his fear of third-and-long situations, and St. Louis' front four gives him plenty to worry about in that scenario. The Rams pack eight in the box to defend the run at all costs, using their defensive line to get pressure on the quarterback. At 3.9 yards per rush allowed, St. Louis can pinch inside lanes and let their linebackers flow to the ball. Led by DE Robert Quinn's 15.0 sacks, the Rams have 42 as a team. Glennon is throwing more on first down, but that comes with the risk of incompletions setting up long distances on middle downs. Stopping Rams RB Zac Stacy will be job one for the Bucs defense. If St. Louis becomes pass-dependent, the Bucs will smell blood. Tampa Bay leads the NFL in interceptions and is plus-11 in turnover margin.
*Matchup to watch - Rams CBs Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson vs. Bucs WR Vincent Jackson - Despite Tampa Bay's struggles this season, Jackson has put up strong numbers with 69 receptions for 1,019 yards (15.9 yards per reception) and seven touchdowns.
*Player spotlight - Bucs LB Lavonte David: An under-the-radar star with 125 tackles (fourth in the NFL), David plays like a heat-seeking missile and rarely comes off the field.
*Fast facts: With two wins to close the season, the Rams can achieve a .500 record for the first time since 2006. ... Bucs CB Darrelle Revis allows 9.2 yards per reception, third-lowest in the NFL.
Neither team specializes in explosive plays. The Bucs failed to protect QB Mike Glennon against the 49ers last week and gave up too many big runs. The Rams will exploit the same weaknesses.
*Our pick: Rams 19-13

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