2012 NFL Week 16 Preview: St. Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Two rebuilding teams, with two new coaches for this season, trending in two very different directions. The Rams are 2-2-1 in their last five games, with some impressive wins against good competition. Not exactly awe inspiring, but a heck of a lot better than the Buccaneers' 1-4 record in that same stretch.
With two of the league’s most inconsistent teams set to play in Tampa, it’s even more difficult than usual to predict the outcome.
This should be a good opportunity for the Rams pass attack to put up some points. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the league’s worst pass defense and, conversely, the best rush defense. It would be wise of the Rams to put this game in Bradford’s hands, especially since all his favorite targets are healthy and ready to go. Steven Jackson will likely be given a decreased role in the game plan, so as to not play to the Buccaneers strengths on defense.
Stats aside, watch out for this Buccaneers defense to come out swinging. They were just shellacked by the Saints 41-0 in New Orleans, and an embarrassment like that usually leads to inspired play the next week.
It’s an interesting time of year for the Rams to match up with the Bucs on defense. Josh Freeman of late has looked a lot like the Josh Freeman of last year, with costly mistakes and interceptions aplenty. Not to be outdone in terms of late season regression, Doug Martin is also regressing. His last game he had only 16 yards rushing, and has only topped the century mark once in his last 4 games. This is a good chance for the Rams middle of the pack rush defense to make a statement, and keep the rookie’s slump going, for at least another week. If the Rams defense doesn’t let the Buccaneers offense find a way out of its miserable season finishing stretch, it will go a long way in determining the young clubs success.
The Rams are getting healthy on offense, playing well enough on defense and are getting above average play at quarterback. That's a lot more than you can say for the Buccaneers of late, and for that reason alone I’m picking the St. Louis Rams to win this one 17-10.