Cleat Geeks

Thursday Night Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs St. Louis Rams

 

The Bucs and Rams will square off on Thursday Night Football in a HIGHLY anticipated matchup! Obvious sarcasm in that statement, but at least there will be two exciting rookies to watch. While Tampa Bay is battling to stay in the playoff race, the Rams are looking to win their last home game of the season, and likely the last game in St. Louis ever.

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The Bucs enter this game at 6-7 and still alive in the NFC wild card race. They are 3-2 in their past five games, and things are starting to click for this group offensively. Last week rookie quarterback Jameis Winston eclipsed 3,000 passing yards on the season, making him the 13th rookie ever to do so. He has had a strong second-half of the season, as has running back Doug Martin who is competing for a new contract. Winston has been lucky enough to have two big, athletic receivers in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Unfortunately, it looks like Jackson will be missing this game with a knee injury. This could lead to a bigger role for second-year tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is also a big, athletic receiving option at 6’5″. While the defense has been strong for the Bucs this season, they showed some weakness last week when they gave up 388 yards to the Saints. They won’t be facing an offense with as many weapons as the Saints this week, but they will have to find a way to stop Todd Gurley.

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The Rams are looking to win back-to-back home games  in their final appearance in St. Louis. Even though this team is only 5-8, they are actually 4-3 at home. The offense kind of is what it is, but the defense usually seems to step up and play better on their home turf. The 31st ranked offense is pretty much a disaster. They are averaging less than 300 yards per game, and it would be much less without Todd Gurley. He has basically been the lone bright spot on this offensive unit. Out of the 298 yards that they average, Todd Gurley is 111 of them. They would have much more yards if they decided to give him more than nine and ten touches in weeks 11 and 12. At quarterback it’s Case Keenum. Kenny Britt leads the team in receiving yards with 480, and Tavon Austin leads the team in catches with 41. This team needs to get rid of basically all the “skill” position offensive players, besides Gurley, and just start over in LA.

 

Fantasy:

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Even though the Bucs face a tough Rams defense, there are some players that will be usable for this week. I think Winston will be just okay, and he will put up 200-225 passing yards with a touchdown or two. I’m assuming Jackson will be out, so Evans and ASJ get a little boost for me. The Rams defense is good against the opposing team’s top receiving option, so I don’t love Evans this week. They will have to manufacture ways to get him the ball if they want to win, so I think he finishes with 5-8 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. ASJ’s role will be large if he is able to stay on the field. I think he’s capable of 4-7 catches for 55-65 yards and a touchdown. Teams have been able to run on St. Louis lately, so I think Martin will have a pretty good game. He will be able to get around 100 total yards with a shot at a touchdown. Charles Sims will continue to be a desperation flex play, but only in PPR.

There isn’t anyone you want to start besides Todd Gurley. He’s the only consistent weapon they have, and I would hope that they realize they need to feed him. He should finish with 100-120 total yards and a touchdown if they decide to use him like they should. If you think you need a boom-or-bust guy in your lineup, then I think Tavon Austin is that type of player. That is the only reason that I would start a Rams player with last name that isn’t Gurley.

 

Prediction:

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I have been going back-and-forth with this prediction all day. The Buccaneers are the better team. Plain and simple! The Rams are going to play with emotion as they entertain the St. Louis crowd for the final game. They also play better at home than they do on the road. This game could either be an offensive explosion or a defensive stand-off. With two great running backs and two inconsistent defenses, it’s difficult to know will show up to play. At the end of the day, I will pick the team with more weapons. I pick the Buccaneers to spoil St. Louis’ final home game 23-19.

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