Quick thoughts on Packers hosting Buccaneers in NFC title game

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Zach Kruse
·4 min read
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The Green Bay Packers will host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The top-seeded Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, while the fifth-seeded Buccaneers knocked off the New Orleans Saints on the road on Sunday.

Here are some quick thoughts on the matchup:

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady never played in a Super Bowl despite the Packers and Patriots being the two dominant forces in the NFC and AFC for more than a decade. This meeting isn’t the Super Bowl, but close enough. Finally, the world gets a chance to see two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live battle under the brightest lights.

– The Packers beat Brady during his last trip to Lambeau Field in 2014.

– The Packers turned it over twice in the first meeting, completely changing the entire outlook of the game. A 10-0 lead turned into a 38-10 blowout. The Bucs delivered four takeaways of the Saints on Sunday. The Packers, who are 11-0 without a turnover this year, can’t have any giveaways.

– The Bucs are loaded with talent on offense. Brady completed passes to eight different receivers on Sunday. This was probably the worst possible matchup in the NFC field for the the Packers defense, who will have their hands full. They’ll need a symbiotic relationship between the pass-rush and secondary.

– Getting Aaron Jones involved will be crucial. The Bucs held him to 15 rushing yards on 10 carries in the first meeting. Matt LaFleur and the Packers offensive line must unlock the Bucs defensive front and find ways to negate the speed at linebacker.

– Keep in mind, Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon both had runs of 20 or more yards in the first meeting. The Saints averaged 4.2 yards per rush against the Bucs on Sunday. Getting production on the ground against this defense is possible.

– Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles gave Rodgers a really hard time back in October. He disguised coverages well and brought some well-timed blitzes. The guess here is that the Packers will be more prepared for what Bowles is going to show on Sunday.

Davante Adams caught six passes for 60 yards and was the target on both Rodgers interceptions in the first meeting. Once again, the guess here is the Packers will do a better job of getting the ball to Adams this time around.

– The Packers’ middle of the field defenders must do a better job on Rob Gronkowski, who caught five passes for 76 yards and a score the first meeting.

– The Bucs got 125 rushing yards from Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones on Sunday in New Orleans. They are a tough tandem. Good thing the Packers’ run defense is trending up.

– Once again, the Packers just need to play their game. Efficient passing game, dominate situationally on offense, win the turnover battle and get opportunistic stops on defense. No team, including the Bucs, can beat the Packers if they play their game and avoid major mistakes.

– The Bucs scored four touchdowns on four red-zone trips in the first meeting. The Packers will probably need a stop or two down there on Sunday.

– The colder the better. Brady is incredible, but the Packers will get more and more of an edge the colder it gets at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Remember, this is a Florida team that hasn’t had to play outdoors in the cold. Some snow wouldn’t hurt either.

– Turnovers are going to decide this game. The Packers are 11-0 without a turnover in 2020, but 3-3 with at least one. The Bucs were 1-4 when turning the ball over at least two times, but now 7-0 without a turnover. The team that wins the turnover battle is probably going to Super Bowl LV.

– This is just an epic matchup. Rodgers and Brady. Stars all over the field. An old NFC Central showdown. Late January at Lambeau Field. Get ready for a fun week and an incredible game to determine who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.

– Early prediction: Packers 31, Buccaneers 27.