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Three things to watch in Bucs-Rams on Thursday night

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams will meet on Thursday night at the Edward Jones Dome. Before we settle in on the couch with Phil and Jeem, let's take a look at three things to watch for in a game between two teams with faint playoff pulses.

  1. In what could be the final home game for the Rams in St. Louis, Todd Gurley gets a primetime stage to sell himself in the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Gurley snapped out of a statistical slump in a big way last Sunday against the Lions, running for 140 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries. Gurley had averaged just 52 rushing yards per game during the Rams' five-game losing streak. Breaking news: St. Louis' funk and Gurley's slump were related. The Rams have obvious limitations at quarterback. They need to run their offense through their dynamic rookie.
  1. Jameis Winston is having a promising rookie season, but the Bucs don't win when they ask their first-year passer to do too much. The team is 5-1 when Winston attempts fewer than 30 passes in a game but 1-6 when he throws more than 30 times. To win in St. Louis and keep their faint playoff hopes alive, Doug Martin and Charles Sims -- perhaps the NFL's best running back tandem this season -- must play a starring role. Speaking of Martin, he enters Thursday just 37 yards behind Adrian Peterson for the NFL's rushing lead. Martin, like DeMarco Murray in 2014, is doing a bang-up job in his contract year.
  1. Does Jeff Fisher need a strong finish to keep his job? Fisher is well-respected in league circles and appears to have a strong relationship with general manager Les Snead. But the Rams have taken a step back this season and Fisher is now just 25-35-1 since taking over in 2012. Put it this way: Fisher is probably safe, but what happens if the Rams bottom out in these final weeks? Taking care of business against a middling Bucs team could be important for Fisher.
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