Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) at Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
Both of these teams are 2-0 and this is being billed as a potential NFC Championship matchup, but I think the Buccaneers have a much better chance of making that game and are the much better team. While the Buccaneers are a dominant team with the league’s top roster and a 10-game winning streak (with a margin of victory of 11.2 points per game, even including four playoff games), the Rams are a little overrated.
The Rams obviously improved their offense this off-season by adding Matt Stafford, but I don’t expect the Rams’ defense to have quite as good of a season as a year ago, which usually gets left out of the discussion with the Rams, in favor of focusing on how much better their offense is. I thought they were overrated coming into the season and I haven’t seen anything to change my mind yet. The Rams did win easily against the Bears week one, but the Bears are one of the worst teams in the league and that game could have been a lot closer if not for key mistakes by the Bears, including not touching a receiver down, a blown coverage, and a goal line interception and then the Rams followed that win up by barely beating a banged up Colts team.
The Buccaneers are favored by 1.5 points in this matchup in Los Angeles, but they should be favored by at least a field goal, given that there is still a significant gap between these two teams. The fact that this line is lower than a field goal is relevant for a couple reasons, given how automatic of a bet Tom Brady’s teams have been throughout his career in games where he isn’t a significant favorite, as Brady is 57-26 ATS as an underdog or a favorite of less than 2.5.
That’s a consistent trend that has held up for decades as Brady has consistently brought his best for big games and his teams have usually followed suit (including a 5-1 ATS record with the Buccaneers last season). It’s possible the Buccaneers are a little distracted by their big matchup with the Patriots next week, but this game is more important in the long run because of playoff seeding implications, so I would expect the Buccaneers to be fully focused this week, even with the Patriots on deck. In a game they basically just need to win to cover, they should be a good bet this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Los Angeles Rams 20
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay -1.5