*Note: The graphic above should read Week 16.
I’ve been illin’ (and not the good kind) most of the week so this will be a very abbreviated version of my usual game previews. Apologies…
A random thought came into my head as I was coughing up a lobe from my right lung Friday night.
“I wonder which Rams team will show up in Tampa Bay on Sunday.”
Even while I’m under the weather I’m thinking about the Rams. Or maybe it’s due to the fact that I get sick to my stomach thinking about the three games the Rams should have won: Week 1 at Detroit (23-27), Week 6 at Miami (14-17), and Week 10 at San Francisco (24-24 tie). The Rams should be 9-5 right now fighting for a wild card.
Then you have the Rams that tied and beat the almighty (?) 10-3 49ers. Yes, St. Louis seems to have San Francisco’s number. Not to mention the Rams (with one last game remaining in Seattle) are one of five teams (Green Bay, New England, Houston, and Denver) that are undefeated in their division. The irony though is that those four teams are their respective division leaders and in the playoffs. Dagger!
Reality hits though as the Rams are set to face a slumping (four straight losses coming into this week) but still dangerous team in the Buccaneers. Quarterback Josh Freeman has had his ups and downs this season which doesn’t bode well for his big time, big size receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. I should know, V. Jackson is on my fantasy team. The other big Bucs threat, the player formerly known as The Muscle Hamster, running back Doug Martin. He’s on both my fantasy teams and he’s also had a seat on the roller coaster that’s the Tampa Bay offense.
Rams running back Steven Jackson needs 91 yards to reach the 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth consecutive season. The longest active streak in the NFL. I say he gets it done today despite the Bucs ranking number one against the run (83.3 yards per game) coming into Sunday. Jackson has seen tough rush defenses this season and has risen to the occasion, especially against the 49ers (101 and 48 yards).
The Bottom line (Nothing really new here, folks.)
The Rams need to tune out all the noise and concentrate on their game. The rest will fall into place.
Run the ball via Steven Jackson.
Protect quarterback Sam Bradford giving him time to find one of his young receivers. This might prove to be harder than expected with their staple offensive lineman Harvey Dahl being placed on IR after a biceps tear. Chris Williams is slated to take Dahl’s place and will be challenged by the Bucs defense.
Don’t commit idiotic self-inflicted penalties. Seriously, this has to stop.
Win the field position battle. i.e. the Rams rookie punter Johnny Hekker needs to be more consistent. Kicker Greg Zuerlein will be the difference in the game.
Rams squeak out a close one winning by a field goal, 23-20 and get back to .500 with one last game to go.