clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bucs - Packers Preview: three key matchups when the Bucs have the ball

Here are my three key matchups for the Bucs on offense. 

Jeremy Trueblood vs Clay Matthews III

Clay Matthews has not had the kind of season he had last year, but the third-year player is still a very dangerous pass rusher who can use both speed and power to get to the quarterback. The bad news for the Bucs is that Matthews won't be rushing against Donald Penn exclusively, but he'll move to the other side of the line and try to get something going against Jeremy Trueblood as well. 

And that's a problem, because Trueblood is not a good pass blocker. He's easily the weak part of the line, although the offensive line as a whole seems to have regressed the last couple of games. If Trueblood can't handle Clay Matthews, Josh Freeman is going to be uncomfortable all day long. And when that happens, the Bucs cannot win through the air. 

Jeff Faine vs B.J. Raji

The Bucs have to get the run game going to win on Sunday, and the key matchup there will be Jeff Faine vs B.J. Raji. Raji is the Packers' best defensive lineman, although he too hasn't had a great year so far. Raji is a big nose tackle, but he also has a lot of disruptive ability and will present a major challenge for Jeff Faine and the rest of the interior offensive line. 

But the Bucs have to move Raji if they want to run the ball with Legarrette Blount. The Bucs run game is based on power plays and fullback lead plays up the middle. Faine plays a key role on those plays, but Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah are very important as well. Who blocks which defensive lineman will be different from play to play, but Faine will almost certainly be on Raji with some consistency. 

Preston Parker vs Charles Woodson

It's a little sad to say this, but Preston Parker has been the Bucs' best and most consistent wide receiver this year. When he is on the field, he will be guarded by the Packers' best defensive player: Charles Woodson. Mike Williams has been incapable of getting open or catching the ball consistently, while Arrelious Benn barely gets on the field on passing downs and Dezmon Briscoe hasn't shown much this year. 

So if the Bucs want to win through the air, they have to find Preston Parker. And to do that, Parker will have to win against Charles Woodson, who plays the slot in the Packers' nickel defense. That's a tall task for the young wide receiver, but he's been the only receiver to step up this year. Someone has to do it.