The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) are coming off a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears (4-1), but have a great chance to make up for the hiccup with a win against the undefeated Green Bay Packers (4-0) on Sunday.
Will the Bucs be able to get it done and win a crucial NFC matchup?
- All-time series record: The Packers lead the all-time series 33-21-1, however, the two teams have split the last eight contests (4-4) since the 2002 realignment.
- Longest win streak: Green Bay has won six games in a row on two separate occasions. Once from 1992-1995 and another time from 1996-1998. A Bucs overtime win on December 10, 1995 kept the Packers from winning 13 straight games from 1992-1998.
- Largest margin of victory: The Bucs were trounced, 55-14, in 1983.
- 2020 offensive and defensive rankings: Tampa Bay currently owns the 15th-ranked offense (11th passing, 24th rushing) and the sixth-ranked defense (19th passing, 2nd rushing). Green Bay is 19th in total offense (17th passing, 10th rushing) and fourth in total defense (6th passing, 3rd rushing).
What To Watch For
- How Tampa Bay bounces back after the Chicago loss: Bruce Arians said himself that Sunday’s performance will say a lot when it comes to what this team is made of. Will the Bucs show that the loss in Chicago was more a result of circumstance or will they show they’re not ready to run with the big dogs?
- “Replacing” Vita Vea: If you follow the Bucs, you know you truly can’t replace Vea. There are ways to make up for the loss, but there isn’t one guy on the roster that does what the third-year defensive tackle does. Regardless, how the Bucs make up for the loss will be something worth monitoring.
- The return of Davante Adams and Kenny Clark: Packers fans —and the team— have to be ecstatic for the return of two of the best players at their position.
- Bucs’ third down defense vs. Packers third down offense: The Pack are fourth in conversion rate (51.1%) while the Bucs allow the ninth-lowest conversion rate (38.3%). Something has to give. The question is: Who blinks first?
- The Packers’ offensive line: This is the best unit in the NFL. Tampa Bay lost an integral piece to its pass rush in Vea, but it also has Todd Bowles, who is one of the best defensive minds in the league. Will the Bucs be able to find success against the Packers’ front five?
- QB Tom Brady: Will the “Brady Effect” take over in this game? Brady’s been known to play his best after a tough loss, so it’ll be interesting to see if that happens in Tampa Bay.
- RB Ronald Jones II: He’s coming off of consecutive 100-yard games and should be able to find running room against the Packers’ defense.
- WR Chris Godwin: Yes! He’s back! How will Godwin play after his hamstring injury? Either way, it’ll be nice to see him back on the football field.
- DL Ndamukong Suh: Will Gholston has been wonderful so far this year, but Suh is now the key cog on the defensive line. He’s been lights out in 2020 and will be needed even more after Vea’s absence.
- LB Lavonte David: Tampa Bay’s best player will need to make some plays on Sunday. It’s that simple.
- CB Jamel Dean: The second-year corner has been playing extremely well. Dean will need to be on his top game, especially when you consider Carlton Davis III’s injury.
Green Bay Packers
- QB Aaron Rodgers: One of the greatest to ever play the game is off to an incredible start this year.
- RB Aaron Jones: The fourth-year back has risen to the top of the charts as one of the league’s best. He’s a dual threat and will need to be taken account of at all times.
- WR Davante Adams: The Packers have one of the league’s best three-headed monsters at QB, RB, and WR. How effective will Adams be after his hamstring injury?
- DL Kenny Clark: Just like Adams, Clark makes his return from injury this week. He’s arguably the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
- OLB Za’Darius Smith: How Green Bay uses Smith will be fun to watch. He’s the team’s best pass rusher and lines up everywhere across the defense.
- CB Jaire Alexander: The defense is littered with playmakers, just like the offense. Alexander is sticky in coverage and will pose problems no matter who he’s matched up with.
- The Buccaneers have outscored opponents 48-14 in the opening quarter of games this season, the best mark in the NFL.
- Over the last two seasons, Shaquil Barrett leads the NFL in sacks and is tied for first in multi- sack games, while ranking tied for third in quarterback hits and forced fumbles.
- The Buccaneers held each of their past three opponents under 50 rushing yards, establishing a franchise record. If Tampa Bay holds Green Bay under 50 rushing yards, it will mark the longest streak of such games in the NFL since 2016 (Packers, four games, 9/11/16-10/9/16) and tie for the longest such streak since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger (accomplished six times in that span).
- Dating back to the 2019 season, the Buccaneers have held 11 consecutive opponents under 100 rushing yards, establishing a franchise record. If Tampa Bay holds the Packers under 100 rushing yards, it will become the first NFL team to hold at least 12 consecutive opponents under 100 rushing yards since 2006 (Minnesota Vikings, 13 games, 9/24/06- 12/21/06).
- Brady has 12 passing touchdowns, tied for the most through five games in franchise history. He needs one passing touchdown against Green Bay to tie Brad Johnson (13 in 2003) for the most through six games in franchise history.
This is an extremely tough matchup on paper. The Green Bay depth chart is littered with talent and some of the league’s best players at their respective positions. It’s easy to see why the team is 4-0.
But we play the games for a reason, right?
There’s an excellent shot that Tampa Bay wins this game. If you go back and re-watch the Bears game (and simultaneously strip away the emotion), then you’ll see that this team was making plays against a pretty tough Bears defense. The Bucs just kept shooting themselves in the foot.
For this week, I think they avoid the mistakes. Now, I don’t know if that will occur throughout the rest of the year, but I have a feeling that it happens this week. The Bucs know they blew a big opportunity in Chicago and will look to make up for it on Sunday.
Tampa Bay will win this game as long as it avoids the mistakes and a 4-2 record will put things right back on track as the team heads to Las Vegas for its next contest.