Football Outsiders
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NFC Championship Preview 2021

Aaron Rodgers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

What is the greatest quarterback matchup in conference championship history?

A simple way to look at that question is to search for games where each team was quarterbacked by a past (or future) MVP of the league. That hasn't happened very often, only 13 times in 100 conference championship games since the merger. Tom Brady has played in five of those games -- four against Peyton Manning, one against Patrick Mahomes. Only one other pairing has occurred more than once: Terry Bradshaw and the Steelers faced Kenny Stabler and the Raiders three times in the 1970s.

Sunday's NFC Championship Game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers will be the 14th such meeting. Brady is a three-time MVP, taking home the hardware in 2007, 2010, and 2017. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has two MVP trophies, and is the favorite to win this year's award as well. Brady and Rodgers will be just the second pair of quarterbacks with multiple MVP awards to meet in the conference championship round, joining Brady and Manning, who has five MVP awards. (Brady and Mahomes will also qualify for that list when Mahomes wins his second MVP award, which seems inevitable to happen sooner or later).

Between the two of them, Brady and Rodgers have won seven Super Bowls and five MVP awards (and counting), and they have led the league in passing DYAR five times and DVOA six times. With resumes like that, it's tempting to think that whichever great quarterback is at his greatest on Sunday will win, but that would not be fair to the 94 other active players on gameday, nor to their coaching staffs. The winning team may be the one that better helps its quarterback, not the one who leans on him the most.

The Buccaneers were consistent performers this season except in two games. I spent nearly 2,500 words last week explaining why I doubted their 38-3 loss to the Saints in Week 9 foreshadowed a similar result in the divisional round rematch. And it would be on brand for me to do the same for their 38-10 drubbing of the Packers from Week 6. The Bucs erased a 10-0 deficit that week with a pair of second-quarter interceptions. The first followed a poor Rodgers decision to throw to the left sideline off his back foot, and the second followed a deflection of a failed Davante Adams catch in the middle of the field. Neither of those things is likely to happen again this Sunday. But that apparent momentum swing distracts from a broader truth that the Bucs dominated that game at the line of scrimmage and have the right personnel advantages to do so again this weekend. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur supported Rodgers' late-30s renaissance with schematic improvements, but he'll need all of his creativity to beat a team where the stars play in the best positions to disrupt his typical game plan.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the Football Outsiders stats, they are explained at the bottom of the page. Scroll down or click this link. Game charting data appears courtesy Sports Info Solutions, unless noted. All stats represent regular season only, except for weighted DVOA and anything else specifically noted.

Tampa Bay at Green Bay

  TB GB
DVOA 31.5% (2) 25.9% (3)
WEI DVOA 35.5% (3) 36.2% (2)
Buccaneers on Offense
  TB OFF GB DEF
DVOA 19.8% (3) 0.5% (17)
WEI DVOA 27.2% (2) -4.1% (14)
PASS 37.1% (5) 5.1% (15)
RUSH -2.0% (10) -5.7% (18)
Packers on Offense
  TB DEF GB OFF
DVOA -14.6% (5) 29.1% (1)
WEI DVOA -11.8% (6) 35.3% (1)
PASS -5.4% (5) 52.0% (1)
RUSH -31.4% (1) 3.0% (5)
Special Teams
  TB GB
DVOA -2.9% (26) -2.7% (25)

All readers can click here for the open in-game discussion thread. If you have FO+, you can click here to see all the matchup of DVOA splits for this game.

WHEN THE BUCCANEERS HAVE THE BALL

Chart 1
Chart 2

Tom Brady seemed like a square peg for the round hole of head coach Bruce Arians' offensive philosophy, which aims to aggressively stretch the field. It isn't an arm strength thing -- it's a pressure thing. Since he turned 40 years old, Brady has seen the differential in his passing DVOA rates with and without pressure balloon from the second-smallest in 2017 to the fourth-biggest this season. Typically, quarterbacks avoid pressure by making quick decisions and shorter throws. Brady skewed that way in his career and became the best to ever play his position. Maybe an old quarterback can learn new tricks, but Arians' preferred trick seemed to invite the types of plays on which Brady had performed the worst in recent seasons and, worse, subject Brady to the hits that even a 43-year-old health and wellness guru would rather avoid.

It probably should not have surprised anyone that Brady made what seemed impossible possible. Other quarterbacks have to hold the ball to throw deep. Brady led the league with a 9.1-yard average depth of target (aDOT) because he crashed through the apparent ceiling of air yards on quick throws. Brady's 8.7-yard aDOT on the throws he released in less than 3.5 seconds was a positive outlier -- just four other quarterbacks of the 36 that threw 200 or more pass attempts even reached 8.0 average depth of target on quick throws. Brady held the ball for 3.5 or more seconds on just 8.0% of his dropbacks, the 13th-lowest rate of those qualified passers.

Highest aDOT on Passes
Thrown in Less than 3.5 Seconds, 2020
Player Team aDOT
Tom Brady TB 8.7
Drew Lock DEN 8.4
Carson Wentz PHI 8.4
Deshaun Watson HOU 8.1
Matthew Stafford DET 8.0
Lamar Jackson BAL 7.9
Matt Ryan ATL 7.9
Baker Mayfield CLE 7.9
Throw time charting from Sportradar
Minimum 200 pass attempts

Pressure may be the best way to limit Brady's success, but it only reaches him if it comes quickly. That likely explains the discrepancy in the Bucs' 17th-ranked pass block win rate (from ESPN Stats and Info) and second-best offensive pressure rate. And it may even explain why the Bucs suffered surprising defeats against the underdog Bears and Rams. The Bears held the Bucs to 19 points, and their pressure rate ranking this season improved from 15th-best on dropbacks of 3.5 or more seconds to 13th best on dropbacks of less than 3.5 seconds. The Rams held the Bucs to 24 points, and their pressure rate ranking improved from second-worst on dropbacks of 3.5 or more seconds to seventh-best on dropbacks of less than 3.5 seconds. Aaron Donald generated his pressures on dropbacks that averaged 2.59 seconds, third-fastest of the 92 defenders with 15 or more pressures. He is the model player to disrupt Brady with interior pressure, especially now that right guard Alex Cappa fractured his ankle and shifted the weak link in the Bucs pass protection from its normal home in left tackle Donovan Smith to the inside. Brady can climb the pocket to avoid an outside rush, but he does not have the mobility to bootleg or escape horizontally the way many of the game's best young passers do.

The Packers don't have a player like Donald. They have a star pass-rusher in Za'Darius Smith, who led the team with 30 pressures and 12.5 sacks, but he tends to line up off of the line of scrimmage even when he's roaming. And since Preston Smith saw his pressure rate crater from 4.0% last year to 1.4% this year, and since Rashan Gary fell short of a breakout in his sophomore season, the Packers landed in the bottom 10 in overall pressure rate and ranked worse in pressure rate on dropbacks of less than 3.5 seconds (sixth-worst) than in pressure rate on longer dropbacks (eighth-worst).

The Packers could try to blitz. Given Brady's sensitivity to quick pressure, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that the Bucs declined from a 41.8% passing DVOA and 8.1 yards per play on dropbacks with four pass-rushers to a -4.0% passing DVOA and 5.6 yards per play on dropbacks with five or more rushers, but the Packers enjoyed minimal gains on their blitzes, increasing their pressure rate from 19.2% on four-man rushes to just 20.8%. They tended to avoid blitzes -- their 25.0% blitz percentage ranked 23rd in the NFL -- and rely on the strength of their secondary to defense passes and maintain tight coverage in nickel and dime formations to help their pass rush win late.

Like with Za'Darius Smith in their front, the Packers have a star in their secondary in cornerback Jaire Alexander. Alexander can make a compelling case that he became the best cover corner in football in his third season. He finished top-two among qualified corners with 4.4 yards allowed per target and a 65.2% coverage success rate. And he enjoyed that success while trailing many of the game's best receivers.

One of those receivers was the Bucs' Mike Evans, who managed just one catch and 10 yards with Alexander as a frequent assignment in man coverage in what was otherwise a 38-10 drubbing in Week 6. That lockdown coverage would sabotage many teams' passing games, but the Bucs are unusually equipped to survive it with standout secondary options such as Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski. Alexander played a big part in Green Bay's 10th-place ranking in DVOA rate allowed to No. 1 receivers, but the Packers were a bottom-10 team in defending No. 2 receivers and running backs as receivers, weaknesses that Brady exploited in Week 6, with seven of his 17 completions going to Godwin and Ronald Jones before the Bucs built a big enough lead to run to kill clock. The Bucs didn't even have Brown that week. Their newest star should intensify the pressure on the Packers' lesser cornerbacks assuming his seemingly minor knee injury won't prevent him from playing on Sunday.

Since the Packers lack the defensive strengths to target the Bucs' offensive shortcomings, they will have to hope that the conditions in Green Bay will slow Brady for them. Lambeau Field may not have its full capacity of fans, but it will have temperatures around freezing Sunday afternoon and may have snow flurries. That likely would have been the story had Drew Brees and the Saints won last weekend, but despite his advanced age and apt "retired to Florida" jokes, Brady has yet to show any sensitivity to cold weather. Since 2009, he has nearly identical rates of pass attempts per game and passing efficiencies in sub-freezing temperatures and in warm weather.

Tom Brady's Passing Splits by Temperature, 2009-Present
Temp Gms Att/Gm YPA TD% INT%
< 32° 24 38.2 7.2 5.5% 1.6%
32° to 49° 58 36.9 7.4 5.2% 1.4%
>=50° 132 37.9 7.7 5.5% 1.7%

Brady has played four sub-freezing games since he turned 40. His Patriots won all four of them, three by double digits. And Brady threw for at least 330 yards in the three that were playoff games, most recently in January of 2019 in Patrick Mahomes' only ever postseason loss. Maybe the warm Florida weather has seeped into the once-hardened former New Englander's bones, but Brady hasn't shown any statistical trends that support that theory.

Of course, if the Bucs opt to rely more heavily on their running game -- in response to the cold and possibly snowy weather or otherwise -- it's hard to argue that benefits the Packers. Tampa Bay enjoyed a marked advantage with the ninth-ranked offensive line in adjusted line yards while Green Bay finished 10th-worst in adjusted line yards on defense. Ronald Jones got to enjoy the statistical fanfare with 23 carries, 113 yards, and two touchdowns in Week 6, but his blockers enabled him to do so by controlling of the line of scrimmage. That seems likely to continue this weekend with the Bucs' increasing reliance on 12 personnel of late and two capable tight end blockers in Gronkowski and Cameron Brate. That is a nightmare formation for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's preferred dime defenses, and with their personnel, the Packers do not have an obvious way to play against their normal tendencies.

WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL

Chart 3
Chart 4

The Packers' easiest path to victory may be to outscore rather than limit Brady's offense. Broadly speaking, that seems very possible. The Packers have the only offense better than the Bucs' in weighted DVOA. And Aaron Rodgers' ill-advised back-foot and Davante Adams' dropped-pass deflection interceptions that erased the Packers' 10-0 Week 6 lead seem unlikely to repeat themselves this Sunday. That said, the Packers suffer as many offensive mismatches as they do defensive ones, and those may require a different game plan than the one Matt LaFleur tried three months ago.

Weirdly, that plan starts in the running game rather than with Rodgers. LaFleur made an all-time great in Rodgers even better with scheme improvements, most notably in a two-year jump in play-action reliance and efficiency. In Mike McCarthy's last year in Green Bay in 2018, the Packers were bottom-six with both their 20% play-action rate and -0.4-yard differential on play-action versus traditional pass plays. This year, the Packers were seventh with a 31% play-action rate. And while their +0.6-yard differential remained in the bottom 10, it represented a full yard improvement at LaFleur's direction and seems particularly important against a Bucs defense that finished 27th in yards per attempt differential on play-action versus traditional pass plays this season.

Football Outsiders' research has shown that teams do not need to run the ball frequently or effectively to enjoy success in play-action. However, teams need to land in offense-favoring downs and distances for defenses to take run feints seriously. That was a major problem for the Packers in Week 6. They fell short of the yardage standard for success on all seven of their second-down rushing attempts, landing the team on third down with between 3 and 7 yards to gain each time. Rodgers had little choice but to take those seven snaps in shotgun, and he threw an interception, took two sacks, and threw three incomplete passes to kill six of those seven drives.

Some of that second-down clustering was likely random, but I think much of it followed a conscious LaFleur decision to call run plays aimed toward the sidelines. Typically, Aaron Jones excels in space, but Devin White and Lavonte David are the fastest pair of inside linebackers in football and spurred the team's fourth-lowest avoided tackle rate by Sportradar charting. Even condensed near the line of scrimmage to counter the Packers' many bunched offensive formations, White and David consistently beat Jones to the perimeter and brought him to the ground. And that crowding near the line helped the Bucs get home with several blitzes, which Rodgers typically beats with 8.4 yards per attempt versus his 8.1-yard average on four-man rushes.

LaFleur has a compelling alternative. He likely drafted AJ Dillon with the seasons after 2020 in mind, but in limited opportunities this year, the 6-foot-0 and 247-pound Dillon lived up to his Derrick Henry comparisons with 3.20 yards after contact per attempt, second-best among running backs with as many or more attempts. Dillon might push the undersized White (237 pounds) and David (233) for extra yards after contact in more of a north-south running game. And while he can't stretch the field horizontally the way Jones and Jamaal Williams can, the Bucs eliminate that possibility anyway with 1.96 average yards allowed before contact, the lowest in football.

LaFleur seems willing to involve his inexperienced rookie runner despite the setting. Dillon took more carries in last week's team playoff debut (six) than he had in any of the first 15 weeks of the season. However, he may not have that luxury if Dillon is compromised by the quad injury that limited his practice on Wednesday. And LaFleur has an injury concern of another kind in defensive tackle Vita Vea's activation from injured reserve and possible return to the Bucs lineup. Vea is massive at 347 pounds. The Bucs survived his three-month absence and even maintained the No. 1 DVOA run defense without him, but his presence would likely offer the Bucs the luxury of pressure and run-stopping in lighter fronts and could be the team's key to repeat their Week 6 dominance at the line of scrimmage.

Thanks to his February 2008 Super Bowl loss to an underdog Giants team, Brady has the reputation of a quarterback you beat with four-man pressure, but as Rodgers has entered his late 30s, that has increasingly become his undoing as well. This year, Rodgers declined to an anemic 3.3 yards per attempt on his passes with non-blitz pressure. And his 5.3-yard differential from his attempts with blitzes or no pressure was the highest in football.

Aaron Rodgers YPA Differentials
Season Non-Blitz
Pressured
Blitz or
No Pressure
Diff
2015 5.7 6.9 1.2
2016 5.8 7.5 1.7
2017 7.2 7.0 -0.2
2018 4.9 7.9 3.0
2019 4.7 7.4 2.7
2020 3.3 8.6 5.3
Blitz and pressure charting from Sportradar

Their blitzing forced Rodgers' lead-changing interceptions, but the Bucs exceled in Week 6 with a 28.6% pressure rate on four-man pass-rushes too. That was the second-highest non-blitz pressure rate Rodgers faced all season. The Bucs sacked Rodgers four times, and the Panthers sacked him five times in Week 15 when they brought his highest non-blitz pressure rate of the season (29.2%). Rodgers took two or fewer sacks in his other 16 games.

LaFleur can likely sabotage the Bucs' blitzing with spread formations, a north-south running game, and play-action passing, but he won't be able to scheme his receivers open if the Bucs can bring pressure with seven defenders dropped into coverage. They did that in Week 6 without Vea and when the Packers still had David Bakhtiari, their All-Pro left tackle who paced their line with an exceptional 0.9% blown pass block rate. The opposite will be true this Sunday.

SPECIAL TEAMS

With their explosive offense, the Packers have relied less on their special teams than most teams. Kicker Mason Crosby attempted just 16 field goals, and punter JK Scott booted just 46 punts. If the Bucs continue their Week 6 defensive success, both special teamers may work some overtime this weekend. And if the latter does, it will put a spotlight on the Packers' poor punt coverage team that has the greatest hand in the team's No. 25-ranked DVOA special teams.

The good news for the Packers is that the Bucs are no better. They are ranked 26th in special teams DVOA, although they reached the bottom third of teams a bit differently. Like the Packers, the Bucs finished below average in kickoff, kickoff return, punt, and punt return value, but they were closer to average in the latter three and bridged that gap with below-average kicking. Ryan Succop did not miss a field goal inside of 40 yards and may not attempt one on Sunday with the forecasted weather conditions, but he missed five extra-point attempts, the third-most in football.

OUTLOOK

If Matt LaFleur and Bruce Arians had the same rosters to work with, then I'd trust LaFleur to find advantages with his creativity and schematic innovation, but they don't have the same rosters. The Bucs beat the Packers up at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in Week 6, and nothing has changed with their personnel since then that would make me believe that the rematch would be any different. I expect the Bucs to win and for Brady to reach his 10th Super Bowl.

STATS EXPLAINED

DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) breaks down each play of the season and compares it to the NFL average based on situation and opponent. You'll find it explained further here. Since DVOA measures ability to score, a negative DVOA indicates a better defense and worse offense, and a positive DVOA indicates a better offense and worse defense.

Team DVOA numbers incorporate all plays; since passing is generally more efficient than rushing, the average for passing is actually above 0% while the average for rushing is below 0%.

SPECIAL TEAMS numbers are different; they represent value in points of extra field position gained compared to NFL average. Field goal rating represents points scored compared to average kicker at same distances. All special teams numbers are adjusted by weather and altitude; the total is then translated into DVOA so it can be compared to offense and defense. Those numbers are explained here.

Each team is listed with DVOA for offense and defense, total along with rush and pass, and rank among the 32 teams in parentheses. (If the DVOA values are difficult to understand, it is easy to just look at the ranks.) We also list WEIGHTED DVOA (WEI DVOA), which is based on a formula which drops the value of games early in the season to get a better idea of how teams are playing now (explained here).

Each team also gets two charts showing their performance this year, game-by-game, according to offensive and defensive DVOA. In addition to a line showing each game, another line shows the team's trend for the season, using a rolling average of the last five games. Note that the defensive chart is reversed so upwards is a more negative defensive DVOA (which is better).

Comments

66 comments, Last at 24 Jan 2021, 6:57pm

1 Idk how you guys wrote a…

Idk how you guys wrote a preview of a game involving the Packers that didn’t describe or mention the Packers’ league-best passing offense at all except in the context of pressure stats.

While I understand bringing up pressure rate stats and all that, I do think the context of that game (big lead for Bucs and *in-game* injury to David Bahktiari, after which 3 of the sacks occurred) do make those pressure stats a bit of an anomaly.

I also think it’s weird you didn’t mention the primary beneficiary of the Bucs OL injury: Kenny Clark.

I understand picking the Bucs, they’re a great team. But this preview seemed to gloss over the Packers greatest strengths.

7 I liked that the preview…

I liked that the preview focused on the matchups, and ultimately I think it does come down to what happens up front - if the Packers can pass protect, they should be able to put up points and yards in the passing game and outpace Brady on the other side.

The real question is whether the Buccaneers truly enjoy a matchup advantage with their D line or if the Week 6 game was just an awful performance from the Packers O line. ESPN's tracking data ranked the Packers offensive line as the best in football in run blocking *and* pass blocking this season, and they're top-5 in FO's adjusted line yards. Bakhtiari is out, but he missed a quarter of the season and the line continued to play well in his absence, including dominating the Rams last week.

If these teams hadn't played in Week 6, I think we'd be really excited for a huge strength-on-strength matchup at the line of scrimmage. So again, was Week 6 just an anomaly, or is there something about the Bucs' players or scheme that gives them a distnict advantage against what is otherwise arguably the best offensive line in football?

12 It focused on *part* of the…

It focused on *part* of the matchups. No mention of Bucs secondary versus Davante Adams and co whatsoever. No mention of how Bucs are one of the most blitz heavy teams in the league, even though they have data in the article showing that Rodgers does well vs blitz.

Again, I think this game is a toss-up and the data that Scott presents are solid. But any Packers preview that focuses a whole paragraph on AJ Dillon and doesn’t even mention Davante Adams is more than a bit off base, imo.

18 Whoops

In reply to by big10freak

I meant to reply to myself and I think I accidently edited over my original comment on Williams likely getting more carries than Dillon.  

2 I give Scott a lot of credit…

I give Scott a lot of credit for going out there with this pick.

On paper I think the bucs are a better team. Their defense rates better and their offense is very good.

And yet I've mentioned this many many times. A top passing offense appears to be the trump card in most matchups. this packer's offense wasn't historically elite like it's 2011 version, but it's either the best or second best and there's a huge drop off from there. 

This defense's statistics rate out as average, but they remind me a lot of the old Colts defenses. They're fine playing with a lead but you never really trust them to hold their own when things go haywire.

the Packers are at home and so the only way I see them losing is if the bucs rejuvenated run game effectively kneecaps the number of possessions the Packers offense gets. If this turns into a low scoring, low possession type of game I actually favor the bucs. I don't think it will so I'll pick the Packers

3 The author seems to be pitching this

As essentially equivalent to last year's SF/GB matchup: a terrible matchup for GB they have little chance of overcoming.  I just........don't see that.  I'm a GB fan so obviously I'm biased, but I don't know. I was expecting the beatdown last year, and I don't see that happening again.  Maybe GB will win, maybe they won't, but I would genuinely surprised if they lost by more than one score.

I'd also take a bit of an issue with the Rashan Gary slight.  He did not have a strong start to the year, but has been very good the last five or six games.

I'd also add that, much like last  year, Kenny Clark took a while to round into form after an early season injury, but he is also back to wrecking dudes and generating consistent push up the middle in the pass-game.

5 You can kind of see some…

You can kind of see some similarities between last year's matchup in this one. The 49ers had a healthy roster, a great defense, and a good offensive scheme with a mismatch at tight end.

The bucs trade away some of that defensive ability for a more talented offense and probably a better quarterback. The bucs receivers are not the mismatch the way kittle was, but they are scary and there are more of them than just one player. Assuming Antonio Brown is 80% what he used to be, this might be the single best trio of wide receivers on one team in NFL history ( though with all that talent located at one position you're going to get diminishing returns)

To me the difference between this year's Packers and last year's Packers is entirely their pass offense. As I said above that becomes a trump card in a way that it was not last year. Plus they are at home

9 The 2019 49ers were a…

The 2019 49ers were a terrible matchup for the 2019 Packers because their DBs could stop the Packers very thin receiving depth and the Packers could only slow down one half of the 49ers offense at a time. Either way, the 49res other half could do whatever they wanted.

In the regular season they slowed the running game and got passed on. In the playoffs they slowed the pass game and got trampled.

The 2020 Bucs/Packers first game was driven almost purely by the Bucs d-line just whipping the Packers o-line. Unlike the matchup with 2019 49ers, that really feels like a single-game outlier for the Packers, who have handled other very talented D-lines (Rams, Saints, Philly) just fine. That feels less repeatable and more like the Bucs' stinker against the Saints.

4 The Bucs beat the Packers up…

The Bucs beat the Packers up at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in Week 6, and nothing has changed with their personnel since then that would make me believe that the rematch would be any different.

You heard it here. Anything less than Bucs by 28 is an atrocity.

 

6 The biggest thing is I don't see GB's offensive line

Performing like they did in Tampa.  It was their worst performance of the season by a long, long ways, compounded by LaFleour's worst coaching decision of the season: leaning on the outside zone in the run game against a team with linebackers that fast and aggressive. I don't think either of those things is going to replicate itself.

Vita Vea I think is meaningless.  Dude has not played in months and even if he's active for the game, how many snaps could he realistically play?  10?

10 TB was really only one of…

TB was really only one of two teams that got the best of GB's OL all season. The other, oddly, was Carolina. I doubt they'll roll like last week, but I also definitely think they'll play better than they did up front in Week 6. One thing that made me nervous about facing the Rams last week was that the Rams were great at running stunts up front, and that was one thing that Tampa killed GB with, but the Packers line did an excellent job passing those off last week. Hopefully that continues.

One other thing about the Week 6 game is that players have said in interviews that they didn't feel like they were properly prepared for the Bucs blitzes and that they weren't getting plays called and getting to the line in enough time to get the protection sorted out properly. Maybe they're just making excuses, but if there's any truth to that explanation it shouldn't happen again. They've seen them once plus they've had an extended amount of time to prepare for this matchup since they had a bye week and the Bucs were actually probably their most likely divisional around opponent.

8 Nailed it

Very nice article. I agree with the prescriptions. If GB doesn't run north-south and go four-wide a lot I'll be disappointed in LaFleur. White and David are a lot easier to handle if GB can get a lineman on them once in a while, rather than hoping the numbers out on the edge wind up in their favor. 

 

15 Even on GB

the general consensus is that Gary is the best pass rusher on the team right now.  

 

Plus I think one has to call out King being the major weak link in the secondary given the improved play of Amos and Savage.  If King were in his prime Tramon Williams even Pettine would have to be tempted to play press nonstop to try and give the rush a chance by taking away the quick pass option

 

Too often GB has gone into big games since the SB win and been physically overwhelmed at several key positions typically on one or both of the lines.  On defense will Lowry be exploited?  On the O-line can Lucas Patrick hold up without needing gobs of help?  Will the Smiths show more willingness to hold the edge than they did in last year's championship game?  The first second of each play will be telling with respect to success or failure.

27 I hope Barnes has been able to get somewhat used to the cast

In reply to by big10freak

I had forgotten, but Kirksey was injured in that game, and that was the Barnes's first game as the starting MLB.  Ty Summers also played 22 snaps and Oren Burks 14.  Some of that I assume are 4th quarter snaps after the game was out of hand, but obviously, barring injury, neither of those guys is going to see the field on defense.

20 This game has me worried,…

This game has me worried, but not as much as the 49ers game last year. I can see clear ways for the Packers to improve on what hurt them.

MLF likely won't try as many outside runs again, especially after seeing the success of going inside against the Rams. Though I'm not happy about both Williams and Dillon being on the injury report. I don't expect the run game too carry them like against LA but I think it can actually help them instead of hurt them 

The Packers have Lazard for this game, they didn't have him in week 6. He is not super, but he would likely have converted at least one of those failed 3rd downs in week 6. I don't think the TB secondary is as good as LA so Adams and Lazard will have chances against without needing to scheme everything open like they did against the Rams. Cold and possible snow could slow down the Bucs defense. I actually think that is the more important aspect of the weather. The offense knows where is going so slightly worse traction favors the offense.

Losing Bakhtiari during the game is different than knowing he's out going in. So I do think the line will hold up better. 

GB inside LB play has improved since the TB game and is part of the DVOA improvement. Gary and Clark are better as well. Gronk is still going to have a few big plays, as will others, but they did force 4 punts in week 6 they can stop the offense and their biggest weakness against it are where they have improved the most recently.

How do you reconcile the week 6 loss? Take away the 2 turnovers that most people think were unforced errors and it's a 24-10 game, not 38-10. Better decisions on where to run, an extra Lazard conversion on a 3rd down and instead of GB punting 7 times maybe it's only 5 and they get one more touchdown and it's 24-17. They did force 4 TB punts as well. The D can hold at times. TB would get at least another score though I'm sure so 31 - 17. So yes the way they played they should have lost, but it's not like what the 49ers did to them. You can see a way back from 2 score loss.

GB actually likes to compress games and limit drives. Some of that is because they tend to have the lead. But this offense plays slowly and rarely fails. They are significantly ahead of the rest of the league in points per drive (and noticeably better than the 2011 offense was too). They got ahead 10 - 0 in week six and then the turnovers made it 14 - 10. So even when they got smashed they showed there was a chance for their style to work.

I hate facing the GOAT (and admitting that based on results Brady is clearly the GOAT) and I know this defense will cause problems for the Pack. But after seeing this team change gameplans multiple times this season and execute those plans well I have much more confidence. Last year they tried to be more flexible but they couldn't always execute. That's different this year.

They can still fail, they lost to Indy and MIN as well by failing to adjust when needed. I just think huge field and experience, which includes getting thumped twice by SF last year when trying to play the same, will make a difference.

I respect the analysis that says the matchups are bad and there don't see how that changes. I admit my comments on that earlier could just be wishful thinking. But I do see how it can happen. 

48 That's

In reply to by Raiderjoe

his sister Mindy.

21 An aspect of the game that has not been

discussed by anyone is while the weather I do NOT believe will create any issues for any player in terms of comfort I do think that the playing surface will to some degree neutralize the Bucs speed on defense.  

 

This is perhaps wishcasting on my part.  But having seen a lot of fast teams get slowed by Lambeau in January I do not think this unreasonable

29 I did briefly mention it in…

I did briefly mention it in my post as well but we posted around the same time. I mentioned it for the same reason you did. Lambeau can slow teams down, specifically defense, in part because of the innate advantage an offensive player has because they know where they are going. When you react in a change to motion you tend to apply more contact force for a change of direction, and having slightly worse footing than you are used to can make a difference. It's not a huge difference but when you have a QB with accuracy like Rodgers that extra 2 or 3 inches of separation could be all you need for him to place the ball or decide to make a throw.

The field slows the Packers too and honestly I think it's part of what hurt the 2011 team. That passing attack was built on speed and then Rodgers being Rodgers with lots of receivers who could ad lib if things went wrong. The 2020 passing attack is not, outside of MVS getting past coverage a couple times a game then having a 50/50 to make the catch. Though the 2020 passing game does rely on precise routes more heavily to get some guys open and those can be affected by a slower field too. Still it's more advantageous to the home team. They've just got more experience with it and can more easily simulate it in practice.

22 I once (jokingly) argued…

I once (jokingly) argued that the NFL should be embarrassed that a guy could go from stocking shelves all the way to SB champion in 1 year. But the league eventually did catch up.

 

Brady has straight up broken it. We've lost 20 years of data on what works in the playoffs. Only one thing works: have Tom Brady as quarterback. Better YPP / NY/A / ANY/A / QBR / whatever? Only if Brady was. Better *defensive* YPP / etc? Only if Brady('s team) was. Net points / SRS? The most predictive value for those is whatever-Brady-had. Rushing? Only mattered if Brady's team was good at it. And on and on, even into DVOA DYAR and other advanced statistics. Does any statistical measure generate even 1% significance next to the Brady variable, in the playoffs?

 

For a number of years, there was a confounding coached-by-Belicheck variable. Not even this one helps! It did nothing this year and failed entirely in 2008, and extending it backwards beyond the 20-year window gives us Browns years. (I'm not trying to weigh in on the BvsB "who gets the credit" discussion, but I am saying this variable can be tossed along with, well, all the others.)

 

I had hopes the "curse of the 4-game advantage" vs the Squirrels would stop this madness, but not even the strongest non-team specific curse in the NFL mattered one whit.

 

Very poor form, everyone else in the NFL. Data from the 90s and before isn't really comparable since the game has changed so much, and we now have ... none ... for the entire 21st century.

 

Let's end happy. This preview, like darned near all content on FO, was excellent. Especially in how not only the lede but the whole article was about how the teams surrounding the quarterbacks will make the difference.

 

39 Wash, Rinse, Repeat

I didn't think Brady was washed coming into this season but I did think the steady decline was real and that by late season, he'd really be sputtering. So much for that theory. As last year revealed, Brady is no longer great enough to carry an offense with no receiving talent the way he did earlier in his career (and how much extra retrospective credit should be given Brady for carrying some of those offensively challenged New England teams - Reche Caldwell, anyone?). Yet put Brady on this year's Patriots and what would it have meant? Two more wins? Three?

By headed to Tampa, Brady made a decision based on a clear-headed assessment of his current abilities. You really have to tip your cap to the man. He might be a kook, but not when it comes to football.

23 I'd also add to the chorus…

I'd also add to the chorus somewhat confused by the interpretation of this matchup. I'm not sure how anybody could have watched last week's Packers game against the no.1 defense in the league (where they essentially did whatever they pleased on offense) and the overall trend (which has them rated #1 in weighted offensive DVOA by a large margin), and conclude that they probably won't do something similar this week. 

Tampa has a pretty good defense, sure, and the week 6 matchup isn't entirely irrelevant. But the Packers are playing so well in by far the most important phase of the game (pass offence) right now that I think it overwhelms anything the Bucs can bring.

If Tampa don't produce at least a couple of turnovers again, Brady is going to have to play out of his mind. It's certainly possible, he's been playing great, and it would be a fool to count against him at crunch time. But it's a big ask. I'm particularly concerned that Arians is going to give him a mountain to climb by wasting time establishing the run and taking deep shots early in the game.

25 I think saying the Packers…

I think saying the Packers got beat because their line got beat is too facile. Rodgers had what I thought might have been the worst day of his career. 

Just as that result might be too extreme, so too might be last week's result with the Packers against the Rams. We don't know.

I think the Bucs have more than a good chance considering they have mismatches of their own on offense. GB's defense to me is ok, but its not a net strength. 

Being at home and having the best pass defense should win the day but I dont think its not a runaway. 

26 Yes, I didn't mean to…

Yes, I didn't mean to suggest it was anything like a lost cause for the Bucs. It's a one off game, and the Packers are far from a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. I think one of the more telling aspects of last weeks game was that the Packers, in spite of their offensive dominance, allowed the Rams to hang around for most of the game. An ill-timed turnover could have swung that game (Dillon fumbled and the ball bounced right to Rodgers, remember). The margins are slimmer this week against Brady, one would assume. 

I wouldn't be picking against the best passing offence in the league, at home, however. 

28 Not sure where this…

Not sure where this narrative of they did whatever they wanted on offense against the Rams is coming from. There was a lot of their playbook that never saw the light of day. Things worked but it wasn't whatever they wanted.

They used all three running backs to run inside, but didn't do great running outside. They adjusted their passing game to use a lot more short quick routes. I think they threw towards Ramsey 3 times (all to Adams) and while they worked they were all short gains and I think only 2 of them were considered successful plays when factoring down and distance. 

They had to wait patiently for the continued success with the inside running game to get the secondary out of position so Lazard and MVS had solid separation for the couple of big gains or attempted big gains. 

If LA had been able to stop just 3 or 4 of those inside runs for no gains then suddenly there are a few 3rd and longs that may not get converted and things look different.

They executed really well, and they had a great limited game plan, but they threw away Adams deep routes, they threw away the outside run game. They threw away any passing plays beyond 3 yards to the side of the field Ramsey was covering.

They did NOT do whatever they wanted. They developed a game plan that worked and executed it at around 80% efficiency (Rodgers still had some incompletes, Jones had some 2 yard runs it wasn't perfect). I like to believe that MLF had plans for if the inside run game stopped working but fortunately we never had to find out. It's possible that if LA had figured out how to stop the inside run the whole offense would have come to a halt.

Doing whatever you want is more like the Tennesse game. That game they ran inside and outside, they passed to all sides of the field, they threw deep, they threw short. That was an offense doing whatever it wanted. The LA game was a limited offense executing at a high level and being able to run inside whenever they wanted.

I suspect they will need to have a game plan like the LA game plan where they know certain things are off the table but that if they execute the things they can do, they will be fine. The outside running game is likely not an option, expect possibly late in the game when other plays are getting guys out of position. There will be more deep passing options at times, but there could also be more consistent pressure too. I don't expect them to be able to have one aspect of their offense be essentially unstoppable like against LA which allows them to keep moving the ball. To win they will have to use the flexibility they have and make sure they are executing everything when the opportunity is there.

30 I take your point, but at…

I take your point, but at the end of the day, they averaged 7.2 yards per play (exc. kneeldowns)  with a roughly 50/50 pass:run split . That is wildly efficient against any defense, never mind the supposed best in the league. The fact that they did so whilst leaving stuff off the table makes it an even scarier prospect for future opposing defenses. 

33 The Rams secondary played…

The Rams secondary played well. They got 0 pass rush, got run all over, couldn't cover underneath and surrendered some blown coverages. Other than that, they did very well 

 

I do think this defense is far more dependent on a player like Donald then we realized going in.

31 Not sure where this…

Not sure where this narrative of they did whatever they wanted on offense against the Rams is coming from. There was a lot of their playbook that never saw the light of day. Things worked but it wasn't whatever they wanted

They had 484 yards and 28 first downs. They scored on their first 5 drives. Their shortest drive was 5 plays (scored) and 27 yards. This was with the benefit of zero Rams turnovers.

Their offense just walked all over the Rams defense.

32 "Staying away from plays that are less likely to be successful"

In order to run plays more likely to be (are then are) successful is an odd definition of failure to do whatever you want.

Identifying your plan, and then successfully implementing it to the extent that the plan sees you through the entire game essentially unaltered, seems to be the very definition of doing what you want.

The percentage of the playbook a team thinks could be successful, and the areas it avoids, strikes me as utterly irrelevant.  

42 I freely admit they executed…

I freely admit they executed amazingly. But going 8-12 on third downs is not a typically sustainable rate. 

Perhaps I'm just sensitive to the word whatever.

They did what they wanted, I agree. But doing what you want is different, to me and I thought others, than doing whatever you want. They had to execute at a high level because they had no margin. That's what I'm getting at. I'm extremely impressed by what they did and I applaud them for doing so. What they did does not seem like something you can count on week on and week out. 

A few mistakes and you have the carolina 5-12 on third downs game that people talk about as "got lucky they played that way against such a weak team." 

I'm fine when I hear it was a dominant offensive performance too. Executive at an extremely high level is dominate. So yes, I'll submit to being overly sensitive to a single word that I feel has no room for nuance when I felt their performance required nuance to be appreciated. I agree I look a bit like a semantic nut job. Apologies. 

All that being said, they have scored on their first 3+ drives multiple times this season so maybe my thoughts of what is repeatable there are flawed. This also isn't the first time they've converted on 75% of their 3rd downs. So my thoughts on the predictive value of that stat is probably flawed too.

San Fran dominated the Packers from a limited offensive playbook last year too. But those games also felt like San Fran could have run plays they didn't try, because they didn't need to, and been successful at them, hence doing whatever they wanted, not just what they wanted. I applaud offenses that keep doing something until the other team stops them. I just feel get uneasy with too much praise for what GB did and missing how close they were at times to things being stopped. It may be more impressive to continually get the minimum of what a play is designed to get and no extra, but it feels more fragile. Perhaps I believe too strongly in the hold them to minimum and eventually they will fail to execute and the drive will sputter defense.

 

Anyway, I do think the point I was trying to convey got across, I think I got too wrapped up in semantics. I will be delighted if they play that way again on Sunday my beliefs that it's not sustainable be damned.

50 Besides what other have said…

Besides what other have said, keep in mind that Lazard dropped one deep pass, and Rodgers missed a wide open MVS on another. The Packers hit those shots and they basically accomplish whatever they wanted.

Even with those misses, they still have the deep TD to Lazard at the end, and in the only situation where they actually needed to go downfield, setting up the FG before halftime, they hit shots to Adams and Tonyan.

GB had a great gameplan that attacked the Rams weaknesses, but even when they attacked the strengths they were overall successful.

24 Packers are 2-0

in the playoffs without Bak during his tenure (since 2013). Last week of course and the 2015 season (2016) wild card vs Washington.

Testing my theory of "how important are OL really tho?" aka "did we really need to pay him that much?" 

Results without him have been pleasantly surprising. 

34 I think your question is…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I think your question is about paying individuals rather than how important an o-line is a unit, right? Personally, I think a large portion of the Packers success this year has been due to the high level play they've gotten from their o-line. Numerous examples abound of offenses just getting absolutely torpedoed by poor line play.

Individuals are trickier to assess, especially since poor performers can be schemed around. The value that a player like Bakhtiari adds is that he's capable of erasing a pass rush threat without deploying any of your limited resources in his direction (i.e. no backs/TE chipping, no need to slide a double team to him, etc). That sort of value might not show up in a game where the opposing team doesn't have the ability to exploit it for one reason or another, but it seems like the value is there, strategically. How much is that worth at contract time? NFL execs seem to think it's quite a lot. I'm not sure how one would go about quantifying it.

37 Yes and no

With sacks, and to lesser degree, pressures, being, what appears to be, a QB stat, how good does your OL have to be? The Packers OL was ranked second this year by PFF. And that was with some shuffling due to injuries of Lane Taylor (did you remember him, RIP), Corey Linsley, David Bak, etc. There's ways to scheme things to make life easier on them even if they're not as good as Bak.

I think it's a better value to have you TE/RB chip than hand out a record breaking OL deal. As we've seen this year without Bak, the team is kinda fine. Yeah they'd rather have him but now that they did sign him. They dont have any choice when it comes to King, Linsley, Jones, etc as extending those UFAs. Maybe they weren't thinking of extending them anyways but that's just the upcoming UFAs this season. I thought it'd be better to extend Jaire this offseason before he'd get expensive, but that might not be an option anymore (without doing something reckless). 

41 I think much of the value in…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I think much of the value in having an all-pro LT is that you absolutely know without doubt that they aren’t going to be consistently beaten, and therefore can shift resources to help others or give more options to the QB. A weak link or a bad matchup on the OL can absolutely detonate a game plan. Yes, you can give help with a chip (sometimes) but that means you can’t give help elsewhere, have to constrain play calling to include said help, and honestly with the way teams stunt and move guys around now a chip might not even help or be feasible. With good coaching and good backups a game plan need not be detonated, but a solid pair of OTs is quite rare. Better to pay the guy you know is great (and get a great player!) than risk having an offense killer starting for you.

53 There is an in-between

Outside of GB, the remaining teams don't have any all pros or even pro bowlers. There's definitely a middle ground between all pro and weak link. 

Buffalo I think has found such a ground. Not the best by any means but good enough to win. They don't really have any weak links but no other wordly studs either. Same goes with KCs revolving door of OL too this year. 

Remember not to conflate rarity with usefulness/value. Good long snappers may be hard to find but do they really matter that much? Better players will always be better but at what cost is the question? 

55 Of course there is an in…

Of course there is an in-between. But no matter the matchup, nobody has to be committed to help Bahktiari or other all-pro tackles. That is a big deal. People always talk about guys like Khalil Mack or Nick Bosa or whoever as game-changers, and rightly so. And the other team’s whole defense is probably built around that guy being a game-changer. But against a team with an all pro tackle, that is neutralized or much diminished. A team with all average or above average lineman still gets their game and offensive outlook changed in significant ways by the very good pass rusher, but not the team with Bahktiari. That’s the value.

Now of course the benefit of the difference between the two scenarios is hard to quantify and therefore hard to put in dollar amounts. But I think just the plain scarcity of good tackles in the league means you pay a good OT rather than go on the hunt for the next one. Many teams don’t have one good tackle let alone two. And they get smashed by good DLs as a result.

56 Is the drop off that much?

Between an all pro OT and a non all pro, that teams cant navigate? How did Bak help the Packers last year vs Bosa twice? Eh... How did the Packers handle their second game against Mack this year without Bak? Just fine. And specifically planning for one guy when the DC can just flip him to the other side is...kinda noteworthy? So both have to be decent. But can you have two (five, along the whole line) decent ones when one is on a record breaking contract? Yes, but it's harder. And like I said they seemed to handle the Macks fine without him in the small sample size. 

Again, I think we might be getting caught up in scarcity instead of value. It is indeed hard to find two good OTs. Doesn't mean you need an all pro one with a record breaking contract. Especially when it appears your backup(s) are adequate AND on contract next year (Turner/Wagner/Jenkins). You can be fine with a Dion Dawkins. Donovan Smith aint great, taking up all that cap and trusting a rookie is something, thankfully they have a QB that knows the value of getting rid of the ball quick and making smart decisions. Journeyman Mike Remmers is a starting OT in the playoffs. You can make it work with smart QBs, quick separating receivers and schemes that help everyone get open fast. Still need a certain level of OL but top tier probably isn't necessary compared to other positions (ie QB and, hot take, WR). 

40 TB defense week to week is the big story here

I find it strange the article focuses on the week 6 matchup. This site is all about a metric based on sample size and opponent adjustments. The article focuses on a game versus a season. Even last week TB themselves had a 100% DVOA swing on offense and defense versus the saints in week 9. I think an outlier in DVOA on game basis needs to be downplayed particularly where injuries played a factor in game.

Obviously week 6 has a baring in individual matchups but I think the big takeaway from the charts above is that 3 times this season the TB defense has been amazing and 15 other games its been average-ish. Eyeballing numbers would suggest TB defense was c. 0% DVOA over 15 games. if we end up with the more likely TB defensive performance  so c. 0% DVOA, that's versus a weighted average 52% DVOA for GB offense. I mean that's a big day for Rodgers and a GB win or at least an offensive shootout.

Alternatively, the more unlikely possibility to me is TB defense is its best self and GB definitely lose. I'd pick 15/18 versus 3/18 every time though.

43 The thing about the week 6…

The thing about the week 6 game I remember is that GB was dominant on offense for the first quarter and then awful for the rest of the game. I did not watch the game closely, does anyone remember changes TB made to turn it around or was it just random in game variance?

44 It is not an exaggeration to…

It is not an exaggeration to say Rogers himself was god-awful. He had a number of interceptions that were just air mailed and a couple that were dropped which are outright horrible. The offensive line got beat but he took terrible sacks too. It was just a total meltdown. 

It's also Interesting to contrast this game with the Broncos 2015 game where the offense was similarly thrashed. That one Rodgers was legitimately under siege and the DBS recovering everything, causing him to hold the ball and drift before firing it incomplete. While objectively the results are the same, the reasons why feel have completely different flavor to it.

63 At least when GB had the…

At least when GB had the ball, Tampa Bay did a great job of playing coverage on short throws on 3rd and short or 3rd and medium, and sending an extra guy or two so that Rodgers didn’t have time to wander the pocket looking for his third or fourth read. On Rodgers’ first pick he wasn’t pressured, just made a poor throw and decision. Second pick was a fluky tip ball play. After halftime, Bahktiari got hurt and that was the ballgame because Rick Wagner played really poorly in relief.

On defense, GB didn’t get much pressure and the Bucs relentlessly picked on Josh Jackson in that game. Couple that with some strong runs by Ronald Jones, and you have the makings of a blowout. They actually got Tampa to 3rd down a fair amount of the time but didn’t hold enough. Oh and some key penalties including a 50 yard DPI on Jackson.

45 Lazy

This seemed like a lazily written article where the author seemed to already have an opinion and just stuck to it. To say they can't imagine a different outcome since the rsoaters are basically the same is just baffling and odd.  It can't be imagined how 1 of the best offensivr lines might be able to protect their QB?

Even if the rosters are similar, why would you just automatically expect similar performances the next game? A change in location, temperature, and field conditions couldn't have an impact?

It is also  incredible to not even really mention a borderline historically effective offense/passing offense. 

The closest analogy I could imagine would be if the 85 Bears met the Dolphins in the SB and the writer just wrote "Since their rosters are the same, expect Marino to dissect the Bears again.

47 Wjat i will like in rhis…

Wjat i will like in rhis game is buccaneers white jerseys

.l.like those more rhan pewter or red jerawys

Woupd like more orange, though. Liked 1976-96 uniforms but do like cureent helmet logo better. A flag with skull on it much more cool than effeminate sword handler 

 

Creamsicles as people call them wluld be cool but with current helmet logo. 

49 This is a team that gave up…

This is a team that gave up 23 points to one of the worst offensive teams playing with a QB off the street. They gave up early big leads to the Chargers and Falcons. They only did what they did to the Saints because Brees was playing with a torn rotator cuff for crying out loud. I’m much more concerned with the TB offense shredding the Packers D like what seems to happen every January since 2011. I fully expect Rodgers and Co to put up 3 TD at the bare minimum and 30+ more likely. 

54 I don't necessarily agree…

I don't necessarily agree with the prediction of a Bucs win, but calling the piece lazy or biased or only using part of the evidence is silly. It's a well-argued, well-supported position piece that is roughly 50% likely to be proven wrong. There is nothing wrong with that.

57 I think you just hit on what seems off about this

It is a position piece, which historically is not what these articles have been.  Sure, they may take a position on the team more likely to win, but that’s not usually the primary point of these articles. There more describing the matchup, what each team needs to do to be successful, and then saying who the matchup appears to favor. That’s just isn’t what this article is, which was unexpected and jarring. 
 

To use one example that’s come up in this thread, a position piece might gloss over Davate Adams for a variety of perfectly valid reasons. A genuine preview would not. 

59 Article

How can you say an article is well argued that completely ignores mentioning:

1)The League's leading and borderline historic Offense

2)Their super low turnover rate and Historic Red Zone Offense

3)No mention of Possibly the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year (Adams)

4)The effects of playing in Cold Weather/Sloppy weather at Lambeau rather than 88 degree Tampa.

5)How GB has done vs the blitz this year.

61 They did cover #4 and #5. …

In reply to by Q

They did cover #4 and #5. 
Everything else that you mentioned has been covered in other articles on this site in the very recent past. This is a matchup article, not a full review of the packers. There are similar Bucs related items which were also left out, and they were also covered in other articles on this site. 

58 Evenly Matched Opponents

I'm a die-hard GB fan. I would LOVE to see Rodgers make his 2nd Superbowl. That said, this NFC championship game is basically a coin-toss: Future HoF QBs, plenty of Offensive weapons, and good to above average defenses.

I am hopeful that weather will play a factor; I am hopeful that GB will play better than week 6; and I believe this will be a last possession type of game.  

 

62 I have all the same hopes…

I have all the same hopes. Things snowballed in week 6 after odd self-inflicted wounds. I don’t know that I can put too much predictive power in the game after that point. These are two really good teams, but I’ll be honest that going into the postseason I felt like the Bucs had the highest ceiling out of any team in the NFL. They looked the part last week and many weeks during the regular season. Prove me wrong packers! 

64 Echoing some others

I read the article and the comments and the preview really isn't very good.

 

Lots of writing about AJ Dillon, but little about the stellar play of the GB OL and Davante Adams. 

 

The quality of these previews has really fallen off a cliff. 

 

"The Bucs beat the Packers up at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in Week 6, and nothing has changed with their personnel since then that would make me believe that the rematch would be any different. "

A)See Saints/Bucs.

B)The first game was in Tampa Bay, in October. The rematch is in Green Bay, in January. 

C)Among other things...

66 In hindsight

Maybe not the worst preview.

Laughing away the pain