Buccaneers peaking at just the right time
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 60 minutes away from being the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
But first, the Bucs will need to get by a Green Bay Packers team that is playing its best football of the season.
This will be the fourth time Brady and Rodgers have faced each other, with Brady holding a 2-1 advantage.
This will be the first meeting of these two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers is having the best season of his career. The 37-year-old passed for 4,289 yards with 48 touchdowns and five interceptions. Rodgers is the leading candidate to win the MVP award, and is looking to add to his legacy with a second trip to the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady is having his best season since 2007 with 4,633 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Brady has been sacked 21 times which is the third lowest of his career,
To hear everyone in the national media talk about this game, you get the feeling the Bucs might just as well stay home and not even show up Sunday afternoon.
Very few people outside of Tampa are giving the Bucs a chance to win this game.
The pressure is on the Packers, not the Buccaneers. Tampa has nothing to lose. Sports fans across the country are more than shocked that the Bucs will be playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
Many pundits are not giving the Bucs much of a chance to win this game. Brady loves to prove everyone wrong.
The man that has six Super Bowl rings is still grinding for one more.
You would think this Packers team is the second coming of the 1999 St. Louis Rams offensively or a reincarnation of the 1985 Chicago Bears defense to hear the talking heads on ESPN and NFL Network bloviate.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In week six, the Buccaneers beat the Packers 38-10 in what proved to be a coming out party for the Buccaneers defense.
The Bucs defense held the Packers offense to 201 yards of total offense.
Aaron Jones was held to 15 yards on ten carries. Jamaal Williams had 35 yards on five carries with a long run of 25 yards.
Davante Adams caught six passes for 61 yards and no touchdowns.
The Bucs defense was able to pick Aaron Rodgers off twice, one for a pick-six as the Buccaneer defense took control of the game.
Of course, it was a bad game by Aaron Rodgers. This loss was 100 percent on Rodgers and nothing to do with the fact that the Bucs defense took over the game.
This Buccaneer defense is playing their best football of the season and has gotten better in every facet of the game since that week six win.
The Packers have not faced a running attack like the Buccaneers have unleashed the last half of the season. Led by Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, the Bucs are averaging 135 yards a game in the playoffs against Washington and New Orleans.
The Bucs are averaging 411 yards of offense per game in the playoffs, which leads all remaining playoff teams.
The Bucs will be missing a crucial part of their offensive arsenal as wide receiver Antonio Brown will not make the trip as he recuperates from a knee injury.
In his place, the Buccaneers will role out Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson to take Antonio Brown’s place. Throw in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate, and those five receivers are a handful for any defense.
The Buccaneer offensive line is playing at a high level. Aaron Stinnie has done a great job in place of the injured Alex Cappa. The O-Line has kept Brady clean and upright this post-season which has been a huge key in the Bucs post-season success.
Defensive tackle Vita Vea will be in the Buccaneers lineup, his first action since week five against Chicago. This will be a big boost for the Buccaneer defense.
Antoine Winfield Jr. is nursing an ankle injury and is listed as questionable for the game on Sunday.
Winfield has been one of the Buc’s best players in the secondary all season, and his absence would be a massive blow to the Buccaneer defense.
Three keys to the Buccaneers winning this game.
- Keep Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines. The Bucs need to have that running game working on Sunday. In New Orleans last week, the Bucs offensively had 33 passes and 32 runs. That is about as a balanced as you can get.
- Keep Brady upright. The offensive line has been outstanding in the post-season. Donavan Smith has had two of his best games as a Buccaneer the last two weeks. Rookie offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs has been just as good. This line will need to keep Rashan Gary and Za’Darius Smith from getting to Brady and wreaking havoc.
- The Bucs must be better in the red zone. The Bucs are just 4/11 in the red zone in the playoffs and have left points on the table. The offense is averaging 30 points a game in the playoffs despite their red zone inefficiency.
Against a Packers team playing their best football of the season, the Bucs will need to get seven points not three, when in the red zone.
The Bucs are 8-2 away from Raymond James Stadium, and this will be their third straight playoff game on the road.
The Bucs continue their “Shock the World Tour” as they will beat the Packers at Lambeau Field 28-25.