TAMPA- It’s the 4th primetime game of the 2020 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) and they are 1-2 in the previous three attempts at playing under the bright lights. Now Tampa Bay gets another shot at playing in front of a national audience when they host the Los Angeles Rams (6-3) for Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium and it’s shaping up to be a doozy of an NFC matchup.
After the Buccaneers were thoroughly crushed by the New Orleans Saints about two weeks ago on Sunday Night Football 38-3, Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians made it be known that he would switch things up in order to have the team more prepared to play at night. Amongst those changes for the Buccaneers has been a transition to practicing in the evening, as darkness now falls around 6 pm Eastern Time.
Any kind of sluggish performance this time around on the national stage would be of great concern, especially that Tampa Bay is coming off one of its best offensive outputs of the season against the Carolina Panthers last week. The Buccaneers totaled more than 500 yards of total offense and running back Ronald Jones had himself a banner day, rushing for 192 yards.
Also bouncing back from the Saints’ nightmare was quarterback Tom Brady, who was nearly masterful in his outing versus the Panthers. Brady threw for 341 yards, three touchdowns and posted a quarterback rating of 124.0. Not too shabby for a 43-year old quarterback whom many thought may struggle to adjust to Arians’ downfield passing offense. Brady is now up to 23 touchdowns thrown and closing in on 3,000 yards passing for the season.
The defense remained steady versus the Panthers as well, applying pressure to Teddy Bridgewater and forcing Carolina into many third and long situations. The next two games are critical for Tampa Bay, as they face the Rams, who are very much alive in the race to win the NFC West, and then Buccaneers welcome Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs into town next week.
Though Tampa Bay’s chances of making the postseason look very good at this point, these next two contests play a role in whether Tampa Bay will make it or not. After facing the Rams and Chiefs back to back, Tampa Bay’s remaining regular-season slate includes the Atlanta Falcons twice, Minnesota Vikings at home, and a road game versus the Detroit Lions. All the aforementioned teams are currently below the .500 mark and Tampa Bay would be favored in the games to win.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.