22

Merry Christmas everyone. 

The last time the Rams traveled to Tampa Bay, Steven Jackson broke Eric Dickerson's franchise record for rushing yards. The team jumped out to a 17-3 lead. But in typical Spagnuolo-era fashion, the Rams sat on the lead and eventually lost 18-17 after Josh Freeman found Cadillac Williams in the end zone with less than 20 seconds to play. 

Remember Cadillac Williams' tenure with the Rams last season? It was highlighted by his Week 2 performance in which he failed to chase after a backwards lateral pass -- otherwise known as a fumble -- in the Meadowlands that was scooped up and returned for a touchdown. This was a veteran with more than five years experience dropping the ball -- figuratively and literally -- on Monday Night Football. 

The Rams never recovered in that game or in the season. 

This year, the Rams and Bucs are fighting for credibility. Both teams danced on the outside of the playoff waltz before being knocked out in recent weeks.

Here's how they stack up against one another. 


WEEK 16 LOWDOWN

The 2012 Bucs are displaying many of the same traits that infected the 2011 Bucs: a team that appears to have just given up down the stretch.

The 2011 Bucs were 4-2 last year before losing 10 straight games, each defeat seemingly worse than the one that came before.

It’s not as ugly for the 2012 Bucs, but it’s still ugly.

The team was 6-4 and in the thick of the playoff hunt, before losing four straight, and each one worse than the other: a 1-point loss to Atlanta and an 8-point loss at Denver – no shame in either of those defeats to superior foes. But then Greg Schiano’s team lost to the Eagles at home and then got wiped out 41-0 in New Orleans last week.

The Rams, who have looked so good against the 49ers, were embarrassed by the Vikings last week, 36-22, just as they were embarrassed by the Jets in Week 11. After watching Mark Sanchez and the Jets lose in disgraceful fashion to the Titans on Monday Night Football, it really made me wonder how the hell the Jets dominated the Rams 27-13 just five weeks ago. Just a nasty, foul taste resonating in the mouth.

Back to the game at hand: both teams have problems. But at least the Buccaneers have an offense, even if it took a tremendous step back last week against the Saints.

Josh Freeman has been a better performer over the long haul than his counterpart Sam Bradford. He's a better quarterback today, which might seem bizarre to say because Freeman is coming off a four-INT performance against the Saints while Bradford is coming off a three-TD, 377 yard performance against the Vikings.

Not a lot of confidence here in the ability of the Bucs to come through in this one, given their four-game skid and last year’s late-season meltdown.  The Rams have played tough and well on the road late in the season with unimpressive wins over the Bills and Cardinals. 

What it boils down to is the fact that I have no freaking clue what to expect. I'd like to think Bradford wil exploit the Bucs' and their bottom-of-the-league pass defense. I'd also like to think the Rams can force a turnover or two given Josh Freeman's performance last week. 

But I also wanted to think the Rams would defeat the lowly Jets in Week 11 and at least put up a fight against the Vikings last week.

Take the Rams and the points (+3).

I think. 

LET'S GO TO THE GHETTO REEL
And flashback to Week 7 of the 2010 season. The Rams in all their Ghetto glory.


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