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Bucs-Rams: Scouting report

How will the Bucs end the 2013 season: two road losses or a surprising upswing? The fate of many, including GM Mark Dominik, coach Greg Schiano and QB Mike Glennon, could shift with the last two games. With NFC South-leading New Orleans next week, today looks to be the Bucs' better shot at finishing better than 4-12.

What the Rams do best

Beat playoff-caliber teams by surprising margins. Over the past six weeks, St. Louis has beaten the Colts by 30, the Bears by 21 and, last week, the Saints by 11. Then again, it gave Atlanta one of its four wins, so there's some inconsistency. A stout defense can stop the Rams. They've scored 15 or fewer points in six of their losses.

How you beat the Rams

Let's use the Cardinals' model from two weeks ago: get a defensive touchdown and a safety, and minimize your mistakes on offense. The Cardinals committed two turnovers and put up only 369 yards but cruised to a 30-10 victory. If rookie WR Tavon Austin can't play, the Rams lose a major big-play threat.

Rams' top offensive player

With WR Tavon Austin questionable, let's go with rookie RB Zac Stacy (right), a fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt who has surprised with 854 yards and six touchdowns. All six touchdowns and 640 of his yards have come over the past seven games, which prorates to a 1,462-yard season.

Rams' top defensive player

DE Robert Quinn has 15 sacks and a staggering eight forced fumbles. So Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon must be extremely careful. Quinn played for Butch Davis, now a Bucs special assistant, at North Carolina. So perhaps Davis can share some secret weakness with the Bucs' offensive line.

The Bucs must avoid …

Any vulnerability in pass protection. The tackles must be sound to keep DE Robert Quinn and DE Chris Long from taking over the game. Needless to say, the third-down production — 6-for-35 over the past three games — won't set the Bucs up to win anything, so they have to move the chains in a way they haven't in half a season.

The pick

Rams 24, Bucs 20

Projected starters

BUCS

Offense

WR: Vincent Jackson 83

LT: Donald Penn 70

LG: Jamon Meredith 79

C: Jeremy Zuttah 62

RG: Davin Joseph 75

RT: Demar Dotson 69

TE: Tim Wright 81

WR: Tiquan Underwood 11

QB: Mike Glennon 8

RB: Bobby Rainey 43

FB: Erik Lorig 41

Defense

DE: Daniel Te'o Nesheim 50

DT: Gerald McCoy 93

DT: Akeem Spence 97

DE: Adrian Clayborn 94

SLB: Dekoda Watson 56

MLB: Mason Foster 59

WLB: Lavonte David 54

CB: Darrelle Revis 24

CB: Johnthan Banks 27

SS: Keith Tandy 37

FS: Dashon Goldson 38

Special teams

P/KO: Michael Koenen 9

PK: Rian Lindell 4

LS: Andrew Economos 48

KR/PR: Eric Page 17

Rams

Offense

WR: Chris Givens 13

LT: Jake Long 77

LG: Chris Williams 65

C: Tim Barnes 61

RG: Rodger Saffold 76

RT: Joe Barksdale 76

TE: Lance Kendricks 88

WR: Austin Pettis 18

QB: Kellen Clemens 10

RB: Zac Stacy 30

TE: Jared Cook 89

Defense

DE: Chris Long 91

DT: Kendall Langford 98

DT: Michael Brockers 90

DE: Robert Quinn 94

OLB: Alec Ogletree 52

MLB: James Laurinaitis 55

OLB: Jo-Lonn Dunbar 58

CB: Trumaine Johnson 22

CB: Janoris Jenkins 21

SS: T.J. McDonald 25

FS: Rodney McLeod 23

Special teams

P: Johnny Hekker 6

PK/KO: Greg Zuerlein 4

LS: Jake McQuaide 44

PR: Justin Veltung 19

KR: Isaiah Pead 24

Injury report

BUCS Out: S Mark Barron (hamstring), DE Da'Quan Bowers (knee), G Carl Nicks (foot). Probable: LB Lavonte David (hamstring), WR Vincent Jackson (hamstring), G Davin Joseph (knee), DT Akeem Spence (wrist).

Rams Questionable: WR Tavon Austin (ankle), RB Daryl Richardson (thigh). Probable: CB Janoris Jenkins (back), T Mike Person (illness), LB Will Witherspoon (illness).

1 p.m. Edward Jones Dome | TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM, 95.3-FM | Line, O/U: Rams by 4; 43

Unit rankings

OFFENSEDEFENSE
Run PassTotalRunPassTotal
Bucs105.6 (22nd)178.1 (32nd)283.7 (32nd)109.6 (15th)234.9 (15th)344.5 (13th)
Rams115.0 (16th)202.3 (27th)317.3 (26th)105.4 (12th)257.5 (27th)362.9 (21st)

Bucs-Rams: Scouting report 12/21/13 [Last modified: Saturday, December 21, 2013 8:18pm]

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