Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

NFL DIVISIONAL ROUND: RAMS VS BUCS BEST BETS/PROPS

Patrick Werkmeister

For this NFC playoff contest, Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams travel to Raymond James Stadium to face off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last week, the Rams destroyed their division rivals the Arizona Cardinals, 34-11, whereas the Bucs handled the Eagles 31-15. With this being the second meeting between these two this year, it will be interesting to see how each team has improved since their meeting in Week 3 where LA came away with a 10 point victory. While both teams have the momentum from their recent play, there is only one squad with the clear cut advantages over the other. Here is what picks I love and why I love them for this Divisional round matchup.

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Buccaneers (-3)
The Buccaneers opened this game as three point home favorites and that is where the line currently sits. While coach Sean McVay and the Rams are an impressive 8-1 ATS in their last nine games vs Tampa Bay, the Bucs are a stellar 11-1 SU in their previous 12 home games. Although the Buccaneers were unable to dominate their opponent like the Rams did, they have been grossly underestimated by some due to injuries on both sides of the ball. With no more Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown at wideout, Brady has had to make some minor adjustments in order to keep their offensive machine going. With Tom Brady at home against a sketch Rams pass defense, LA could find themselves in a hole early. During the regular season, the Rams allowed 6.2 yards per pass attempt, which is nearly the worst among all playoff teams. Brady and the Bucs have averaged over 31 points per game at home this season. Although this Rams defense has been steady all season led by Aaron Donald , Jalen Ramsey, and Von Miller, Tampa also has a relentless defense with stars on all levels on that side of the ball. With this matchup being so even, I have to give the edge to Tampa Bay where they have the more reliable quarterback. Take the Bucs minus the points to take care of the Rams at home.

Odell Beckham Over 45.5 Receiving Yards
Following a more than productive half season with his new team, Rams receiver Odell Beckham should again be a big part of the passing attack. With wide receiver Robert Woods out for the season, Beckham has played a big role in picking up the slack since his absence. This year, he had a modest 27 catches on five touchdown receptions in just seven games with the Rams. However, he does have nearly 50 targets since joining their pass-heavy system, so he has been a big part of their offense. Additionally, last week in their Wild Card match vs the Cardinals he had 54 yards receiving to go along with a big touchdown catch. Odell is still an unreal receiver and route runner and with his receiving prop still this low, it must be taken advantage of. With so many weapons on the Rams, all focus will be on players like Cooper Kupp or Cam Akers, leaving Beckham wide open. Although the Bucs have a formidable pass defense, it will be hard to completely shut down an offense of this caliber. He has had some monstrous outings this year where he has a touchdown in six of his nine starts with Stafford as his QB. With how sure handed he is, he’ll make teams pay that give him any space at all. Expect Odell to have an overall solid night and take the over for his receiving yards prop. 

Rob Gronkowski Any Time TD (+105)
Following an outstanding regular season, Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski should be a big part of the passing attack yet again with his best friend Tom. Although he is now 32 years old, Gronk has still proven he is top receiving threat. On the year, he has caught 55 balls on 6 touchdown receptions for an impressive 802 yards in 12 games played. Additionally, he has nearly 100 targets in a pass-heavy system, so he has been a big part of their offense. In their Wild Card matchup, Gronkowski was able to find the end zone to go along with five receptions on the day. Gronk is a great red zone threat and with his touchdown prop looking this juicy, it must be taken advantage of. With so many weapons on the Bucs offense, all focus will be on players like Mike Evans or Leonard Fournette, leaving Gronk wide open. Although the Rams have a solid pass defense, there’s not much they can do to stop the Bucs offense, so watch for him to be productive in some fashion. He has had some monstrous outings this year where he’s had three multi-td games and three 100 yard outings. With how sure handed he is, he’ll make teams pay that give him any space at all. Expect Rob Gronkowski to have a productive night overall and take him to score one for the Bucs. 

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