Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws under pressure from Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Poona Ford (97) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) runs out of the pocket against Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns (53) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Charlotte , N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians walks the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Charlotte , N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Bruce Arians doesn't mince words or offer excuses when he talks about Tampa Bay's struggles in prime-time games this season.
''It's just bad football,'' the 68-year-old coach said. ''Bad football and not being ready to play.''
The Buccaneers (7-3) are off to their best start in a decade in their first season with Tom Brady, however they have lost two of three night games and frankly were fortunate to win the one they did.
The team hopes to buck the trend Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams (6-3), who are coming off an impressive victory over Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.
Arians tinkered with his usual practice routine, working at night instead of the afternoon, and intends to make changes on game day in hopes of avoiding slow starts that contributed to a Thursday night loss at Chicago and a 38-3 Sunday night debacle against New Orleans at home two weeks ago.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski said there are no valid reasons for not performing well under the lights. He and Brady were fixtures in prime-time games while they were together with the New England Patriots.
Brady improved to 18-7 in 25 starts on ''Monday Night Football'' three weeks ago, with the Bucs overcoming a slow start before holding off the Giants 25-23 when Daniel Jones' potential game-tying 2-point conversion pass was broken up in the end zone.
''It's just another football game, and that's how we've got to treat it. You can't let it get to your head that it's a prime-time game, that you've got to do this, you've got to do that,'' Gronkowski said.
''No, it's just another football game. It's just at night this time,'' the 10th-year pro said. ''We've got to show up and do what we've been doing all year, no matter what time the game is. There's no excuses.''
The Rams, coming off a 23-16 victory over the Seahawks in which they forced three turnovers and sacked Wilson six times while holding the Seattle quarterback without a touchdown pass, have been dealing with a bit of a schedule quirk of their own.
Monday night will be the fifth time in nine games the NFC West contenders have played on the East Coast. The Rams are 2-2 in those, with losses to Buffalo and Miami and wins over Philadelphia and Washington.
Jared Goff rebounded from a poor performance against the Dolphins to outplay Wilson, and the Rams defense limited the Seahawks to 333 yards last week.
Now, the Rams take aim at Brady and a talented group of Tampa Bay playmakers that includes Gronkwoski, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette.
''I think this is the best collection of skill-group players that we've faced,'' Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley said.
Staley was a quarterback at the University of Dayton when Brady was breaking into the NFL with the Patriots.
The task of preparing a defense to face Wilson and Brady in consecutive weeks is challenging.
''What you have to do is treat each week like it has a life of its own. That Seahawks week has no bearing on how we're going to game-plan and prepare for Tom Brady,'' Staley said.
''You have to start over every week and you have to build from the ground up literally every week,'' Staley added. ''You don't ever assume this is going to carry over to the next week.''
Monday's game will be the first in NFL history worked by an all-Black officiating crew.
Referee Jerome Boger will lead the crew, also featuring umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.
''Way too long coming. I know a lot of those guys, and they're great officials,'' Arians said. ''Jerome Boger, we've had that crew twice this year - he and Barry Anderson. They're great officials. It's a historic night, and I think it's fantastic.''
BIG LEFT TURN
The Rams' offense will be without its cornerstone in Tampa. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is sidelined for at least six weeks with a knee injury, and third-year pro Joe Noteboom is taking over. Whitworth had played every snap this season and 99% of last season's snaps before he got hurt last week against Seattle.
The 38-year-old veteran also has been graded as one of the NFL's most effective left tackles this season, both in run-blocking and in protecting Goff's blind side. Whitworth has been the foundation of the Rams' offense since he arrived with coach Sean McVay before the 2017 season, and his absence could affect everything from McVay's play-calling to Goff's ability to handle pocket pressure, which already wasn't particularly strong.
AARON DONALD VS TOM BRADY
Aaron Donald has caused misery for plenty of quarterbacks over his seven NFL seasons, but the Rams' All-Pro defensive tackle would love to finally get his hands on Tom Brady. The most successful quarterback in NFL history has never lost to the league's most dominant current defensive lineman, although the Rams only faced Brady's Patriots twice after Donald entered the league.
Donald had one quarterback hit and no sacks when the 2016 Rams lost in Foxborough to Brady, who became the NFL's career leader in quarterback victories with that win. Donald also had just one quarterback hit and no sacks when the Patriots beat the Rams 13-3 two seasons ago in the lowest-scoring game in Super Bowl history. If it happens this week, Brady would be the 43rd quarterback Donald has sacked in his career.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 13
The New York Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell (calf) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a calf injury. Fackrell will miss at least the next three games, leaving the Giants very short-handed at the position. He was tied for second on the team with three sacks and was playing close to 100 percent of the defensive snaps before suffering the injury in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. No outside linebacker on the active roster has more than one sack this year. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are also on IR. Jamaal Sheard and rookies Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown could start in Week 13 against the Seahawks, making the New York defense one to avoid for fantasy managers after they were a popular streaming defense against Cincy.
The Denver Broncos activated quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after all three had PCR tests come back negative on Monday. They will all be eligible to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs. So barring additional team discipline, the Broncos won't be forced to use a practice-squad wide receiver under center against their division rivals. If Lock returns as the starter for this offense, it'll be excellent news for receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant. Denver will likely be forced to throw often to keep up with the Chiefs high-octane offense, too, but Lock's inconsistency this season keeps him as a low-end QB2. The 24-year-old was 24-for-40 for 254 yards and two interceptions in the first meeting against KC back in Week 7.
The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he left the Week 12 win over the Raiders with a toe injury. In a corresponding move, the team activated receiver Laquon Treadwell from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added him to the 53-man roster. Zaccheaus popped up for a couple decent games this year, but it his production was inconsistent on a weekly basis and he was too far down the team's receiving depth chart to be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. The second-year wideout's best game came in Week 9 against the Broncos when he had four receptions for 103 yards and his first touchdown of the season. If he doesn't make it back this year, he'll finish with 20 receptions (32 targets) for 274 yards and the one touchdown. Christian Blake and Brandon Powell could see some more playing time as the No. 4 wideout with Zaccheaus out.
Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are both eligible to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the Week 12 game against the Steelers on Wednesday, but it's not a given that either will play. Both players have been isolated since testing positive for the virus on Nov. 22 and aren't allowed to fly on the team plane on Tuesday night. At this point, if you have Dobbins or Ingram on your roster, you've likely benched them for other running backs that already played in Week 12. Even if they both play, Gus Edwards could see the majority of backfield touches and will be the best fantasy play of the trio. Those that picked up Edwards in order to start him this week are hoping that neither Dobbins nor Ingram suit up in the tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers.
The Baltimore Ravens activated defensive tackle Brandon Williams, quarterback Trace McSorley, nickelback Tavon Young and cornerback Khalil Dorsey from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. They could activate more players from the list before kickoff against the Steelers on Wednesday. McSorley should be the backup to Robert Griffin III on Wednesday with Lamar Jackson testing positive for COVID-19 and being unavailable this week. The return of Williams will be good news for Baltimore's defensive line, who will again be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens Defense is more of a gamble in DFS and season-long leagues against the undefeated Steelers, but inclement weather is expected and could make things tougher on both offenses.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) is 'just kind of beat up,' according to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Cook briefly left the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers but returned to finish with 83 total yards and 22 touches. He leads the league with 1,385 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on the season. The Vikings' schedule gets much tougher following the Week 13 home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he'll remain a matchup-proof RB1 due to his heavy usage.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones, DE Jordan Willis and practice squad TE Daniel Helm will be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and practice Thursday, Dec. 3, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Matt Sokol and DB Jaylen Watkins were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Las Vegas Raiders LB Vic Beasley, PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving and DE Chris Smith were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Chad Hansen, DT Corey Liuget, WR Steven Mitchell Jr. and WR Damion Ratley were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Terry Godwin, DB Josh Nurse, DT Caraun Reid and PK Aldrick Rosas were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, OT Jordan Mills, DB Rashard Robinson and OT William Sweet were named protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Denver Broncos RB LeVante Bellamy, TE Troy Fumagalli, DB Alijah Holder and LB Josh Watson were made protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cleveland Browns OT Michael Dunn, QB Kyle Lauletta, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Alex Taylor were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Free-agent WR Joe Webb (Lions) is visiting the New York Giants Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Kevin Hogan, WR Stanley Morgan, RB Jacques Patrick and TE Mitchell Wilcox were named as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Buffalo Bills DE Bryan Cox Jr., C Jordan Devey, C Jonotthan Harrison and LB Darron Lee were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller and CB Bradley Roby were officially placed on the Reserve/Suspended list Tuesday, Dec. 1. The Texans also activated DT Andrew Brown from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.
Arizona Cardinals TE Seth DeValve, DE Michael Dogbe, RB D.J. Foster and WR A.J. Richardson were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.