The two most recent Super Bowl winners face off on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams (3-4) travel south to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5).
This will be just the eighth time in the past 20 seasons that the two most recent Super Bowl champions will meet in the regular season.
Two seasons ago, the Bucs defeated Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs to win Super Bowl LV. Quarterback Tom Brady earned his seventh Super Bowl title and fifth MVP award, both the most by any player ever.
Last season, the Rams took down Joe Burrow’s Bengals to win Super Bowl LVI. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp was awarded MVP for his game-winning touchdown and head coach Sean McVay made history as the youngest head coach to ever win a Super Bowl.
But before they made it to the main stage, Los Angeles conquered Tampa Bay in the divisional round. This week’s matchup will be the first time the teams have met since then.
With both the Bucs and Rams posting losing records, this season presents entirely different circumstances.
The Buccaneers have lost three games in a row, for Brady’s worst-ever start to a season. The Rams, with last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, have lost both of their divisional matchups this season.
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What has caused these two teams to struggle?
Tampa Bay has been plagued with injuries since the start of the season. Most recently, starting linebacker Shaq Barrett suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
However, they could be welcoming back some key players in the coming weeks. The team did not make any moves before the trade deadline, leaving the assumption that they believe the current roster is competent for the remainder of the season.
The Rams’ biggest struggle has been on offense. They rank 28th in the league when they have had to convert third downs of six or longer yards. To compare, they ranked third in that category last season.
They have trouble running the ball, as shown in last week’s loss to the 49ers. During that game, just 56 of 223 yards of total offense gained came on the ground.
For either team, a win this week would provide momentum heading into the second half of the season.
With both teams majorly struggling on offense, this game could be a low-scoring affair in which capitalizing on opposing mistakes is the main difference between success and failure.
Tune in on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET to see which team emerges victorious.
Bills and Jets Clash in AFC East Showdown
Week 9 also features a divisional matchup between the Buffalo Bills (6-1) and New York Jets (5-3).
The AFC East is one of the league’s most competitive divisions, and one of two divisions (NFC East) in which all four teams have won at least four games. Buffalo enters the matchup on a four-game win streak and heavily favored against their opponent.
The game presents an interesting comparison between quarterbacks Josh Allen and Zach Wilson.
In his fifth year, Allen is having one of the best seasons of his career. He is consistently in the conversation alongside names like Mahomes and Brady regarding the league’s best signal-callers.
Through seven games, his 2,504 combined passing and rushing yards trail only Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for the most such combined yards by a quarterback in his first seven games of a season.
Wilson, on the other hand, has struggled at the start of his second year. His passer rating is 34th among quarterbacks who have started at least three games, and his completion percentage is tied for 35th.
The interesting part is that Wilson’s recent performance is reminiscent of Allen’s at the same point in his career.
For example, Wilson threw three interceptions in the Jet’s Week 8 loss to the Patriots. Allen had a nearly identical experience, throwing three interceptions and making many other mental mistakes during a Bills’ loss to the Patriots back in 2019.
Allen is a shining example that not all great quarterbacks come out of the gate great; some take longer than others to sink into their role and reach their highest potential.
The rest of the season will be an indicator of whether or not Wilson is able to replicate a similar rise to eminence.
Through eight games, Wilson’s glimmers of greatness have been overshadowed by mistakes and inexperience. In a highly competitive AFC East, Wilson has the second-half of the season to prove whether or not he has the ability to be the Jets’ next franchise quarterback.
To see Wilson and Allen in action, tune in on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Host Primetime Battle with Titans
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has the chance to make history on Sunday when the Chiefs (5-2) host the Tennessee Titans (5-2).
The QB has recorded a league-leading 20 touchdown passes this season and ranks fourth with 2,159 passing yards. Through 70 career games (all starts), Mahomes has totaled 21,150 passing yards and 171 touchdown passes.
With 105 passing yards against the Titans, Mahomes would surpass Matthew Stafford for the most passing yards ever by a quarterback in his first 75 career starts.
With three touchdown passes, Mahomes will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the most-ever by a quarterback in his first 75 career starts.
The Titans enter the matchup first in their division and on a five-game win streak. Out of the last ten meetings with Kansas City, Tennessee has won eight.
Kickoff is set for Sunday Night at 8:25 p.m. ET.
How to Watch
Here’s how to catch these teams and others across the league in action, from wherever you are.
Australia: NFL Game Pass, ESPN, 7Plus
Brazil: NFL Game Pass, ESPN
Canada: CTV, TSN, RDS, NFL Game Pass on DAZN
Germany: NFL Game Pass, ProSieben MAXX, DAZN
Mexico: NFL Game Pass, TUDN, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sky Sports
UK: NFL Game Pass, Sky Sports, ITV, Channel 5
US: NFL Game Pass, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, Amazon Prime