Quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions when they take on the Los Angeles Rams Sunday at 3 p.m. in an NFC Divisional Round playoff game on Fox.
The Bucs are trying to become the first NFL team to repeat as Super Bowl champs since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005. Hmmm, I wonder what the Bucs and those Patriot teams have in common?
Of course, the answer to that is Brady, who had a pair of touchdown passes in the Bucs 31-15 beatdown of the Eagles in the Wild Card round. The game wasn’t that close as Tampa led 31-0 heading to the fourth quarter. The Bucs are 14-4 this season and won the NFC South Division.
The Rams are the fourth seed and will be a formidable foe. Los Angeles bounced the Arizona Cardinals, 34-11, in Monday night’s special Wild Card game. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford got the first playoff victory in his 13-year career.
The Rams have had the Bucs number. Los Angeles leads the all-time series 18-9 and has won seven of the last eight meetings. The Rams also beat the Bucs in Week 3 of the regular season, 34-24, Stafford threw for 343 yards and four scores. The win ended the Bucs 10-game losing streak dating back to the 2020 season.
When these two franchises have met in the playoffs, they’ve produced two of the weirdest outcomes in NFL history. The then-St. Louis Rams beat the Bucs, 11-6, in the 2000 NFC Championship game, which is known as the “Bert Emanuel Game” by Bucs fans as a catch by the veteran wide receiver was controversially overturned in the final minute.
The Rams also shut out the Bucs 9-0 in the NFC Championship game in 1980.
The oddsmakers say
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Bucs were 3-point favorites at Caesars and BetMGM online betting. Tipico had them at 3.5. The over/under was trending up at online sports betting sites. It was listed as 48.5 points at Caesars.
The Bucs are 10-8 against the spread this season, while the Rams are 9-9.
The next year thing
Of the last 10 Super Bowl champions dating back to 2011, none have repeated as champs.
Three reached the Super Bowl and lost (the 2020 Chiefs, 2017 Patriots and 2014 Seahawks). Three didn’t make the playoffs (the 2016 Broncos, the 2013 Ravens and the 2012 Giants).
Two lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs (the 2018 Eagles and the 2011 Packers) the next season, one (the Patriots in 2015) lost in the conference championship game and one (the 2019 Patriots) lost in the Wild Card round.
Ok, but Brady
Yes, this time of year the NFL playoffs always seem to revolve around Brady. He is now 35-11 in playoff games in his career with the Bucs and the Patriots. But how has he done against the spread?
Dating back to 2016, a run of 15 games, Tom Brady-led teams are 13-2 straight up in the playoffs and have covered the spread 11 times.
One other note about this contest is it’s a rematch from the regular season, a Bucs loss. This is an unusual spot for Brady and Bucs.
With Tampa, Tom Brady has had mixed success in rematches against teams that beat him the first time. The Bucs lost both games to the Saints in 2021. It lost both games to the Saints in the 2020 regular season, but came back to beat the Saints in the playoffs.
Also in 2020, the Chiefs beat the Bucs in the regular season but Tampa Bay came back to beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
Talking it over/under
48.5 points is the second-highest total of the four NFL playoff games this weekend.
The Bucs are second in the NFL averaging 30.1 points a game. The Rams rank sixth at 27.4. Defensively, the Bucs allow 20.4 points a game, while the Rams give up 21.3.
Of the Bucs 18 games, 10 went over 48.5 points, but three of the last five did not. For the Rams, eight of their 18 games went over 48.5, but again, three of their last five have not.
There should be no weather to worry about. Raymond James Stadium should be sunny and mild with a high temperature of 62 and the forecast is for partly cloudy skies.
Football games and playoff games come down to match-ups a lot of times and we can’t discount the Rams recent success against the Bucs, however, no one can match Brady’s success in the playoffs.