The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into Green Bay this Sunday to face the Packers. Game time from Lambeau Field is set for 1:00 EST, with weather forecasted in the mid-40’s at kickoff. The game can be seen in local markets on FOX, and on NFL Sunday Ticket.
Things haven’t gone as scripted for the Bucs or the Packers. Both teams have struggled despite the high hopes they had at the season’s start.
Green Bay’s season went off the rails after franchise QB Aaron Rodgers’ was lost to injury. Tampa’s supposedly-explosive offense has yet to put the pieces together and has been without their own starter at QB, Jameis Winston.
Even with Winston planning to be back, the Bucs are missing several key players in this matchup. Safety T.J. Ward, RB Doug Martin, and DE Robert Ayers, all pivotal starters, may not play due to concussions. Cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves and Josh Robinson are both nursing hamstring injuries and likely won’t play. And on top of that, DT Clinton McDonald has back issues, presumably keeping him out Sunday.
Rodgers has been a big enough loss to hamper any chances on a week-to-week basis for the Packers. He truly was the most “valuable” player to any team in the league. But Green Bay is coming off a near-upset win over Pittsburgh, with backup Brett Hundley throwing for three touchdowns in his best game of the year.
The line is set at 2 ½ points in favor of Green Bay, with the over/under set at 45.
There’s no doubt the play of Hundley will play a huge role in how this game shakes out. Not merely because he’s a quarterback, but because of how topsy-turvy he’s played. After fair performances his first three weeks, he took a dive in production (0 TDs, 3 INTs, 13.6 QBR) before lighting up the Steelers (3 TDs, 0 INTs, 65%).
Expect him to get more comfortable in this offense with another week and extra confidence under his belt. He’ll also be playing a team ranked dead-last in defense, with nearly 400 yards allowed per-game. They’re also worse against the pass, which will give Hundley more opportunities to grow. The Bucs have 15 sacks all year, which is also last. The young quarterback should stay upright most of the game.
The Bucs have had the capability of firing back with some offensive threats of their own. But even if Winston is back, it doesn’t mean that he’ll be 100%. Between the injuries, the issues Winston has had off-the-field, and the incompetency shown at times in the play-calling, the talent in Tampa hasn’t been able to shine.
Beating the Jets in a sloppy fashion and winning in Miami isn’t the same as playing in Green Bay, no matter if Rodgers isn’t playing. Tampa Bay has not found consistency in the run-game, with their 94 yards last week being the highest of the season for them.
They are a pass-heavy team, coming in at third in the league. But their yards haven’t been backed up by points, as they only sit at 23rd in that category. Plain and simple, the Bucs haven’t found a way to punch it in from the Red Zone. After 11 games of not being able to do so, don’t expect things to change here.