The Buccaneers will try to beat the Packers once again, but this time there is much more on the line.
Brady’s Bucs finally got a win over the New Orleans Saints and have a matchup next week against a Green Bay Packers team they have already destroyed once this season. That was back at home in a Week 6 demolition that saw Tampa win by a final of 38-10.
Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of an otherwise legendary season and the Bucs will look to follow a similar formula next week. But will the results be the same the second time around?
The Bucs certainly have a good chance
The Week 6 matchup was the only game this season in which Rodgers did not throw a touchdown pass. It was also the only one where he threw more than one interception. For those keeping score, that means he threw all of his 48 touchdowns in just 15 games.
The Tampa defense also made Drew Brees look awful Sunday, forcing three interceptions. Rodgers is much better than Brees this year, but maybe the Bucs have found their stride on defense.
The one X-factor in next week’s NFC Championship is the location. The game is in Green Bay and you can expect it to be a frigid day. One thing in Brady’s favor is all his experience playing in similar conditions with the New England Patriots. This is more of an X-factor in general to where the Bucs running backs may need to step up more than they did in New Orleans if the passing game is more limited.
There is no reason why the Packers should be overwhelming favorites next week. Last year’s NFC Championship Game is a key reason for that. Mike Pettine’s defense got absolutely torched on the ground and the same strategy may be in place for Tampa because of the weather.
The Packers just gave up 90 yards and a touchdown to Cam Akers. The Week 6 meeting, in Tampa, saw Ronald Jones run for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Throw Leonard Fournette into the mix now and Packers fans will be hoping Pettine has figured out how to stop the run.
Both teams have gotten better since the initial matchup and it is impossible to count out a squad with Brady under center. Fans are getting a matchup between two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Rodgers is the current MVP and Brady remains the GOAT. Seeing the latter back in this position, even without Bill Belichick, should come as a shock to no one.