2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Talking Plank - Week 3

The Talking Plank -

Rams At Bucs:

With last week's dominating performance, the Bucs prepare to defend their house again in an attempt to go 2-1. The Bucs have an excellent chance to firmly plant themselves at the front of the Division if they win this week, then go up to Carolina and take care of the kittens. Before they get that far, however, they must first take care of business with the Rams. The Rams are coming in 0-2 and will be looking to desperately avoid going 0-3. But the Rams are banged up at several key positions and the Bucs will look to take advantage of those areas.

On Offense, the Bucs will be facing the 10th ranked defense (286.5 yds/g), 25th against the run (137.5 yds/g) and 4th against the pass (149 yds/g). The stats on that defense are a bit misleading, however, as the Rams gave up just under 200 yards of offense to the worst offense in the NFL, the 49ers. The Panthers put up just a little shy of 400 yards on the Rams, so the ranking is a bit misleading at this point. The Bucs will, once again, seek to establish the run while trying to attack the Rams suspect secondary, forcing the safeties to stay out of the box as much as possible. The Panthers were able to run for 186 yards on the Rams, and the Bucs' rapidly improving line will look to do the same. One of the keys, much like last week, will be to keep Garcia clean, which should be possible against the Rams, who've only gotten 4 sacks so far. Their DL has 3 of their sacks. Their starting linebackers, combined, have 24 tackles, the same as Ruud. In fact, the majority of the Rams' tackles are by the secondary, primarily the safeties. That's not usually the sign of a good defense. I expect to see Galloway exploit their secondary (who will be without Tye Hill, their starting corner). If they hit him early, we should see Caddy run loose, and if he continually gets past the linebackers, it's going to be a long day for the Rams' defense. I expect to see the Bucs have pretty good success against the Rams, and put up some points. It could be another offensive explosion, but the Rams are going to be hungry for the win, so I expect them to be flying around.

On Defense, the Bucs will be facing the 18th ranked offense (315 yds/g), 28th in rushing (68.5 yds/g) and 9th passing (246.5 yds/g). This is yet another high powered offense that the Bucs will be facing. But the Rams, who have already lost LT Pace for the season, will likely be without starting RG Incognito as well. That bodes well for us, and bad for them, as Bulger is already banged up after getting sacked 6 times by the 49ers. If ever there was a game for the Bucs' DL to feast, this is it. If the Bucs DL can consistently put the pressure on Bulger and put him on the ground a few times, the secondary should be able to deal with the Rams' receiving threats. I expect the linebackers and safeties to be crucial in this game. If they play like last Sunday, they'll keep RB Jackson in check and make it difficult on the Rams. It's going to be tough to stop the Rams' offense, but they will slow them down, and I believe it will be enough to keep the Rams from scoring too many points.

On Special Teams, the Bucs will have to be at their best in coverage with Dante Hall returning punts and kicks for the Rams. For the most part he's been held in check, but did manage to rip off an 84 yard kick return that didn't get into the endzone. His punt returns have been pathetic at around 2.6 yards per, but he's got the ability to take it to the house on any play, so the Bucs will need to be very careful and contain him. On the flip side, the Rams' coverage teams have been pretty soft, giving up 32 yards on kicks, and 14 yards on punts. The Bucs have been getting 36 yards per kick return, and 12 per punt, so the Bucs may have a distinct advantage in the return game if the coverage units tackle and use good angles against Hall. The kickers are both looking solid, and both punters are averaging around 44 yards per punt. If the coverage units do their jobs, I give the advantage to the Bucs. But Hall will be the wildcard. Wrap him up, and we should win the field position battle. Fail to do that, and he could win the game by himself.

In the end, I think the Bucs will have enough of an advantage to take the Rams on and win this game. I look for a couple of explosion plays out of the passing game and for the running game to finally get on track. In the end, the Bucs will hold the fort and go 2-1.

Bucs 24 Rams 20


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