The 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to St. Louis to take on the 5-8 Rams in this week’s Thursday night matchup. Last week, St. Louis snapped a 5 game losing streak with a 21-14 victory over the Detroit Lions even though they lost the time of possession battle by 8 minutes and had 7 fewer first downs. The Buccaneers were defeated 24-17 by the New Orleans Saints and were outplayed on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. They gained 97 less yards, had 8 fewer first downs and lost the time of possession battle by over 14 minutes.
The Rams were able to get the win behind solid defense and a very efficient running game. As a team, they averaged over 7 yards per carry as they gained 203 yards on only 29 carries. Todd Gurley led the way with 16 carries for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kenny Britt led a lackluster receiving corps with 2 receptions for 35 yards. Quarterback Case Keenum was a non-factor as he completed 14 of 22 passes for 124 yards and 0 touchdowns while throwing an interception. The offensive line did a good job protecting Keenum as he was only sacked once. Defensively, they shut Detroit out in the first half and had a pick-six of Matthew Stafford which gave them a 7-0 lead. They were also able to sack Stafford 4 times for a loss of 25 yards and had 6 tackles for losses. They had some trouble with the rush as the Lions averaged 5.6 yards per carry as they gained 111 yards on just 20 carries.
The Buccaneers defense allowed Drew Brees to complete over 75% of his passes and the Saints converted on 12 of 17 third downs which led to New Orleans dominating the time of possession battle. They couldn’t force any turnovers but did sack Brees twice for a loss of 11 yards and had 5 tackles for losses. Offensively, Jameis Winston completed 18 of 32 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Charles Sims who had 6 catches for 64 yards. Doug Martin led a balanced running game with 11 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Connor Barth missed a key 47 yard field goal early in the third quarter which gave the Saints good field position and they scored the winning touchdown on the following drive.
Tampa Bay is 7-6 against the spread this year including 4-2 on the road. The Rams are 5-7-1 against the spread this year including 4-3 at home. Last week’s loss was the Buccaneers second in its last 5 games while the Rams victory was their first in their last 5 games. Three out of the Rams 4 losses during that stretch were by at least 20 points. Vincent Jackson suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of last week’s game and did not return. His status for this week’s game is questionable.