If the Los Angeles Rams are going to win a Super Bowl this season, they are going to have to go through Tom Brady and his seven rings in the divisional round.
On Wednesday, Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters the team has a lot of respect for what Brady has done at his best, but they aren't afraid of facing the future Hall of Famer.
"I think it's tremendous respect, but not fear. And so, as a competitor, he is a great, phenomenal player. We have tremendous respect for him, but we're going to have the expectation and anticipation that we're preparing to try to go win this game. And so, we know what a great challenge it's going to be. We've got to have a great week of work, and then go play to the best of our ability and let the chips fall where they may."
Brady's postseason record speaks for itself: He's 35-11 in the playoffs and 7-3 in Super Bowls. He's a perfect 5-0 in the postseason with the Bucs.
"I mean, he's got so much experience," McVay said. "He's so smart. He's so twitchy in his upper half and can beat it up. He recognizes exactly what's going on. And so, I think the best way is try to influence and affect—move him off his spot, be able to win with your rushes. Easier said than done. It's why he's the most successful quarterback of all time."
The Rams do have the players to get in Brady's face, however. Aaron Donald (12.5 sacks) remains arguably the best player in football, period, and one of the league's most impactful pass-rushers. Von Miller and Leonard Floyd combined for 14.5 sacks off the edge. The team's 50 sacks this season were third in the NFL.
So the Rams will get after Brady. Whether they get to him in time, of course, is another matter altogether.
The Bucs will hardly be full strength on the offensive side of the ball, however. Wideout Chris Godwin (ACL/MCL) is out for the season. Antonio Brown was released. The availability of running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is up in the air.
The Bucs still have players like Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski for Brady. But this is hardly Tampa at its optimal potency.
Underestimate Brady at your own peril, of course.
"It's tough. We're going to need all 11 guys," Miller told reporters. "Tom sees the whole field. We all know about Tom in the playoffs. He's incredible. We've got to play our best ball to have a chance, but if we can play our best ball, I like our opportunity."