This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will travel back to Lambeau Field and take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers are currently 5-6 and are four games back of the Vikings in the NFC North. The Buccaneers are currently 4-7 and are in last place in the NFC South division. This matchup, at first look, appears to be a relatively even contest. Hopefully, the Packers will be able to end their current losing streak.
There are three specific matchups that can decide this game:
1. Brett Hundley vs. Tampa’s Secondary
After losing Aaron Rodgers for the season about a month ago, Brett Hundley has been inconsistent to say the least. Hundley has struggled with his accuracy and has thrown seven interceptions since becoming the starter. However, Hundley rebounded nicely from his abysmal performance against Baltimore by lighting up the Steelers last Sunday night. Against Pittsburgh, Hundley completed 17 of his 26 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. If Hundley plays similarly to the way he did last weekend, Tampa Bay has a very small chance to win.
Hundley’s success last weekend was partially due to the play calling of Mike McCarthy. At long last, McCarthy finally trusted Hundley enough to take various deep shots downfield which led to several completions to Davante Adams downfield. If Hundley continues to stretch the field, it will open up some of the shorter passes and various lanes in the running game. Hundley’s ability to test this Tampa Bay secondary will determine the outcome of this contest.
2. The Packers’ Defense vs. Jameis Winston
Last week, the Packers got torched by Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger completed 33 of 45 passes and threw for four touchdowns. His success was primarily due to Green Bay’s inability to generate any pressure on Roethlisberger. the Packers only managed to sack him one last week and will need to generate more pressure this upcoming Sunday.
So far this season, Winston has dealt with various injuries which resulted in him missing several games. In the games that he has played in, Winston has been somewhat turnover prone. Winston has only thrown for ten touchdowns this season along with six interceptions. Tampa Bay’s offense actually showed signs of life in recent weeks behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Winston is finally returning after missing the last three games due to a shoulder injury and will look to expose this weak Green Bay defense in his first week back.
3. Green Bay’s Offensive Line vs. Tampa Bay’s Defensive Line
Until the Packers improve their offensive line, I am not going to stop talking about it. The Packers offensive line has been atrocious this season and Bryan Bulaga’s torn ACL has not improved this glaring concern. Last week, the Packers gave up four sacks to the Pittsburgh Steelers to bring their regular season total to 40 sacks allowed, the second-most in all of football. If Hundley continues to be pressured on a continuous basis, one has to wonder how many more shots he can take before potentially getting injured.
On the bright side for the Packers, Tampa Bay, statistically, has the worst pass rush in the entire league. The Buccaneers only have 15 sacks all season which ranks dead last. However, the Buccaneers do have All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy who is more than capable of exposing Green Bay’s weak offensive line. This matchup will pit two dreadful units against each other and only one side can come out being the victor.
As for my prediction, I expect the Packers to win behind the newfound confidence of quarterback Brett Hundley. Tampa Bay has had issues getting to the opposing quarterback all season and I expect that trend to continue. Winston should also be a bit rusty due to his inactivity over the last three weeks. I think the Packers win by a field goal or so in front of their home fans.
Prediction: Packers 23, Buccaneers 21