The two preseason favorites to come out of the NFC will meet in the divisional round when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Los Angeles Rams. Find out where we lean in the betting matchup with our Rams-Buccaneers picks.
The Buccaneers look to continue their Super Bowl title defense and reach the conference championship for the second consecutive season. They've won eight of their last nine games, with the lone blemish a 9-0 loss in Week 15 to the New Orleans Saints.
Though Tampa lost just four games during the 2021-22 season, the Bucs were 10-8 against the spread.
Meanwhile, the Rams are hoping to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2018. The Green Bay Packers eliminated them during the divisional round in 2021.
L.A. owns a 9-9 record ATS in 2021-22.
Here are my picks and predictions for the matchup between the Rams and the Buccaneers (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook, and pick confidence is based on a one-to-five star scale).
Rams vs. Buccaneers Game Info
Date/Time: Sunday, Jan. 23, 3 p.m. ETTV: NBCLocation: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FLWeather: Mostly cloudy, 18 degrees, 13% chance of rain
Rams vs. Buccaneers Odds Analysis
Though the Rams have been favored often lately, Los Angeles opened as the underdog for Sunday's game. The spread opened with the Rams as 2.5-point underdogs following their wild-card victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday. The line has remained at Rams +3 since late Monday night.
The total at most legal sportsbooks has held steady at 48 points. The Rams' Over/Under record is 9-8-1, while the Bucs' is 9-9.
Rams Betting Preview
Record: 13-5 SU, 9-9 ATS, 9-8-1 O/UKey Players: QB Matthew Stafford, WR Cooper Kupp, DT Aaron Donald, CB Jalen Ramsey, WR Odell Beckham Jr., RB Sony MichelNotable Trend: Rams are 5-0 ATS over their last five games in Tampa Bay
The Rams have won six of their last seven games, including Monday's decisive 34-11 victory over the Cardinals. L.A. breezed past its division rival with the team's defense leading the way while holding Arizona to 183 total yards and forcing two turnovers.
The Rams didn't even need to rely on their ninth-ranked offense. However, Stafford has been struggling lately, and he completed just 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
If more is required of him this week, Stafford can lean on Triple Crown receiving winner Cooper Kupp as his top target, and Odell Beckham Jr. has been surging lately. The revitalized wideout has scored touchdowns in three of his last four games and six of his nine games as a Ram.
SEE ALSO: Rams vs. Buccaneers Prop Picks
Buccaneers Betting Preview
Record: 14-4 SU, 10-8 ATS, 9-9 O/UKey Players: QB Tom Brady, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Mike Evans, TE Rob Gronkowski, LB Shaq Barrett, LB Devin WhiteNotable Trend: The Buccaneers are 8-1 at home this season
The Buccaneers won three road playoff games to reach Super Bowl LV. They again hold home-field advantage after easily dispatching the Philadelphia Eagles at home in the wild-card round. Tampa went 8-1 at Raymond James Stadium in 2021.
The Bucs have made it to the divisional round despite injuries to wideouts Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman, running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs, and Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen. The latter two were hurt against the Eagles and are questionable to face the Rams.
Tampa will need Wirfs and Jensen against the Rams' stout defensive front. Playoff Lenny could also return to the team's backfield.
Rams vs. Buccaneers Picks
Rams +3 (-115) ???Over 48 (-110) ?????Rams first-half points Over 10.5 (-105) ????Cooper Kupp anytime TD (-135) ???Same-game parlay: Over 48 + Kupp anytime TD + Brady Over 249.5 passing yards + Beckham Jr. Over 29.5 receiving yards (+340) ??
SEE ALSO: Divisional Round Parlay Picks
Rams vs. Buccaneers Predictions
Rams +3 (-115)
The Rams have won both games against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers over the past two seasons. They took a competitive 27-24 Monday-night affair in 2020 on a late field goal, and Los Angeles emerged victorious 34-24 in Week 3 of 2021. The latest win came when rosters were different, but it's clear the Rams are built to compete with the defending champions.
As proven during Wild Card Weekend, it's best to attack the Bucs through the air rather than on the ground. Tampa owns the league's third-best run defense, which allows a paltry 92.5 yards per game. Its passing defense ranks 21st and gives up 238.9 yards per contest.
The Rams rank 25th in rushing offense and their passing game sits fifth. If Stafford can avoid costly turnovers after sharing the league lead with 17 interceptions this season, the collection of Kupp, Beckham, Van Jefferson, and tight end Tyler Higbee will cause headaches for the Buccaneers' penetrable secondary.
Los Angeles is a good bet to not only cover for our Rams-Buccaneers picks, but the club should be considered on the moneyline for the outright victory.
Over 48 (-110)
The three previous matchups between these teams were all shootouts that finished above this total (34-24 in 2021, 27-24 in 2020, and 55-40 in 2019).
These are two of the league's highest-scoring teams. The Buccaneers finished second in scoring while averaging 30.1 points per outing, and the Rams ranked eighth with 27.1 points per game.
Brady led the league in most passing categories, and the Bucs own the NFL's top passing attack. Though the Rams employ arguably the game's No. 1 shutdown corner in Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles is also susceptible through the air. Expect Brady to exploit a defensive backfield that recently brought Eric Weddle out of retirement to fill a hole at safety.
Sunday's game isn't expected to be a defensive battle. It may take just one second-half defensive stop to determine the winner.
Rams first-half points Over 10.5 (-105)
I've got no problem betting on the Rams to score 11-plus points in the opening 30 minutes during a likely shootout.
Don't let the Bucs' defensive performance against the Eagles fool you, as the Rams are a significant step up in competition.
The Rams have been quick starters on offense lately, and their defense forced 24 turnovers during the 2021 season. The unit can provide extra drives and short fields for the Stafford-led offense.
The team's big-play, quick-strike offense ranks fourth in the league while averaging 2.68 points per drive, according to Football Outsiders.
And if a drive stalls, Pro Bowl kicker Matt Gay connected on 32 of his 34 field-goal attempts for the Rams this season.
Kupp anytime TD (-135)
Kupp has been unstoppable, and there's no concern about him reaching the end zone against a vulnerable and limited pass defense.
The unanimous All-Pro led the league with 16 regular-season touchdown catches before adding another one during Monday's win against the Cardinals.
Kupp was targeted 12 times throughout the Rams' September triumph over the Bucs, turning that work into nine receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Buccaneers starting corner Sean Murphy-Bunting missed last week's game with a hamstring injury and is questionable for Sunday. The Bucs started Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean at cornerback without him, and they played with three safeties for the majority of their wild-card win.
Kupp will feast if the Bucs again need to go with a backup at slot corner on Sunday.
Same-game Parlay: Over 48 + Kupp anytime TD + Brady Over 249.5 passing yards + Beckham Jr. Over 29.5 receiving yards (+340)
The cases have already been laid out for the Over and a Kupp touchdown. I would have loved to add a Brady interception, but that prop isn't unavailable among the same-game parlays on DraftKings.
Brady is a sure bet to exceed 250 passing yards. The 44-year-old threw for 432 yards during the prior meeting between these squads, even though a loss was all but guaranteed halfway through the third quarter.
The likely game script of a shootout and the Bucs potentially needing to play catch-up feeds into our approach for this prop.
Meanwhile, Beckham has gone over 30 receiving yards in three of his last four games. The veteran pass-catcher's usage has increased in recent weeks, with head coach Sean McVay featuring him more prominently in the game plan.
We're looking to ride some hot hands and superstar players in our Rams-Buccaneers picks while keeping game outcome props out of our parlay.
Rams-Buccaneers picks made 1/19/2022 at 10:55 p.m. ET