The NFL is a copycat league — and now the Rams are angling for an instant replay.
They’re looking to become the second consecutive team to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made NFL history by doing that, and now the Rams have to get through them — and quarterback Tom Brady — to keep their hopes alive.
“It will be a big challenge for us,” Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “I think they’re a team that’s different than when we played them last and we are too with personnel and scheme a little bit.”
To advance to the NFC divisional round, the Rams throttled the Arizona Cardinals 34-11 in an NFC wild-card playoff game Monday night at SoFi Stadium. They will visit Tampa Bay on Sunday at noon Pacific time (NBC).
That provided the final puzzle piece of a second round that also features Cincinnati at Tennessee and San Francisco at Green Bay on Saturday and Buffalo at Kansas City on Sunday.
Three of the games are rematches from the regular season, with the only matchup that isn’t a repeat being Bengals-Titans. The Rams, Packers and Bills were all victorious in the first meetings.
In each of the last two regular seasons, the Rams have beaten Brady and the Buccaneers, even though the former New England quarterback collected his seventh Super Bowl ring last February.
This time, the 44-year-old Brady is playing behind a bruised and battered offensive line that has the unenviable task of holding off a Rams defensive front that features Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd.
But Brady gets the ball out of his hands quickly, and if he has sufficient time he will look to take advantage of a Rams secondary with replacement safeties. Even if L.A. cornerback Jalen Ramsey can blanket Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, those safeties will have the difficult responsibility of covering a talented collection of Tampa Bay tight ends: Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard.
The Rams’ running game is on the rise, with Cam Akers joining forces with Sony Michel to give L.A. an impactful 1-2 punch. Then again, stopping the run is a Tampa Bay specialty.
So while Stafford is looking for the second playoff win of his career, Brady is in search of his 36th.
And after an opening weekend filled with blowouts, this game figures to be much closer than that.
The other divisional games: