Arguably the most important regular-season game in the NFC this season arrives Sunday afternoon when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the Los Angeles Rams. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams
September, September 26, 2021 – 04:25 PM EDT at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The marquee matchup in Week 3 around the NFL is unquestionably this potential NFC Championship Game preview between the defending Super Bowl Bucs and the Rams with Fox having the national TV telecast. This will EASILY be the highest-rated and most-wagered game on Sunday during the day.
It would surprise no one if these teams do play for the NFC title – Tampa Bay is currently the +265 favorite on the BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) NFL futures odds to repeat in the NFC, while Los Angeles is the +550 second-favorite. The winner Sunday could have a massive head-to-head playoff tiebreaker for potential home-field advantage in a postseason matchup. If the teams were to tie for the NFC’s best regular-season record, the winner would get a first-round bye and the loser would have to play on wild-card weekend.
The Rams lead the all-time series 17-9 including playoffs. Last season, they played Week 11 on Monday night in Tampa. The Bucs were 4-point favorites but lost 27-24. Tom Brady threw for 216 yards and two scores but also two picks.
He was actually outplayed by Jared Goff, now with the Lions, as Goff threw for 376 yards and three scores but also two picks. Matt Gay hit the winning 40-yard field goal with 2:36 left. Tampa Bay is just 1-7 ATS in the past eight meetings.
Brady Making Case For Fourth MVP
Believe it or not, this is the first time that Tom Brady has ever played an NFL game in Los Angeles (he did play in the 1998 Rose Bowl while at Michigan). In fact, he will set a league record by playing in his 37th all-time city (including two outside the country) and 44th stadium. SoFi Stadium is only 2 years old.
At BetOnline, Brady is now the +425 favorite to win a fourth regular-season MVP Award. He leads the NFL with nine touchdown passes, becoming the fifth player in NFL history to throw four touchdowns in his team's first two games of the season. In fact, Brady has thrown at least four TD passes in four straight regular-season games dating to last year, one shy of Peyton Manning’s league record.
Including playoffs, Tampa Bay has won 10 straight games overall and has become the first team in NFL history to win nine consecutive games while scoring at least 30 points in each contest including the postseason. People are going to start talking about 17-0 if the Bucs win this game because they might be favored in all the rest.
Future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski had caught two TD passes in each of the first two games and his four lead the NFL. Gronk’s 19 career regular-season games with at least two touchdown catches are two shy of the record set by Antonio Gates.
If there’s one concern for the Bucs, the defense has been a bit leaky in wins over the Cowboys and Falcons. Brady will be down one key receiver on Sunday in Antonio Brown as he landed on the COVID list this week despite being vaccinated.
The Bucs are 100 percent vaccinated. Tampa’s special team's captain, Kevin Minter, also is on the list. The Bucs are 5-2 ATS on NFL picks in their past seven vs. the NFC.
Rams Don’t Lose With Halftime Lead
Of course, the Bucs won Super Bowl 55 in their own stadium and the Rams will have that chance next February (as will the Chargers) with SoFi Stadium hosting Super Bowl 56. Offseason trade acquisition Matthew Stafford has fit in like a glove with Sean McVay’s offense, completing 69.6 percent of his passes for 599 yards, five TDs, and one pick. His rating of 127.0 is third in the NFL.
Cooper Kupp has been easily his top target, catching 16 passes for 271 yards and three scores. Kupp and Seattle’s Tyler Lockett are the only two receivers with 100-or-more receiving yards and at least one touchdown catch in each of the season’s first two weeks. The Rams already have as many 50-yard touchdowns passes as they had all of last season.
Having already lost top running back Cam Akers in training camp, the Rams might be without their new main guy, Darrell Henderson. He injured his ribs in last Sunday’s win over the Colts, but the team has "hope and optimism" he'll be ready for Week 3 according to McVay. Trade acquisition Sony Michel would take a huge role if Henderson can’t go.
The Rams did get some good news on defense depth-wise as rookie outside linebacker Chris Garrett was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Garrett joins Leonard Floyd, Justin Hollins, and Terrell Lewis as the edge rushers on the active roster. One thing to keep in mind if Los Angeles is up at the break: The Rams are 39-0, including the postseason, when leading at halftime since McVay became head coach in 2017.
For what it’s worth, Los Angeles is the only team in the NFL to have scored a TD on the opening drive of both its games. I’m going to back the Rams as they are 13-3 on the NFL odds in September under McVay and 20-6 at home since the start of 2018. Tampa Bay isn’t going 17-0!
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.