The Green Bay Packers (4-0) travel to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium. The Packers are coming off the bye week, while the Buccaneers are looking to expunge the bitter taste of a 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears in week 5.
In the COVID-19 world we all live in, home field advantage is muted in the NFL, but the forecast for Tampa on Sunday calls for a high of 86 with elevated humidity levels. Weather is a thing. As much as Packers fans love warm-weather teams visiting Green Bay in January, Buccaneers fans welcome a visit from a team like the Packers during warm-weather months.
Aside of Mother Nature, below are three things I’ll be watching for on Sunday.
One could argue the Buccaneers possess two top-15 wide receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Godwin (hamstring) is expected to play Sunday and will likely see a heavy dose of Jaire Alexander in coverage. The big question is: who guards the 6’5″ Evans and his league-leading 6 touchdown receptions? In an ideal world, the 6’3″ Kevin King would draw the assignment, but, due to a quad injury, King will not play. Other options, which are less-favorable, include: Josh Jackson, Ka’Dar Hollman or nickel corner Chandon Sullivan. You can bet Tom Brady will test whoever sees the field in place of King.
STRENGTH VS STRENGTH
The Packers are averaging 150.8 yards per game rushing…good for 5th best in the NFL. No team is scoring more points per game than the Packers. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are allowing a stingy 58.4 yards per game on the ground. No worries! Matt LaFleur will aim to win Sunday’s game through the air – what with the return of Davante Adams – right? Not so fast. Let me introduce you to the best CB tandem you know very little about. Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis. Both stand 6’1″ and both played college ball at Auburn. According to Pro Football Focus, Dean has produced an 83.6 coverage grade (4th best among CBs). Together, Dean and Davis have combined to allow a 20.8 passer rating on throws of 10 or more yards downfield. It should be noted that Davis was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday and officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
WILL THE REAL TOM BRADY PLEASE STAND UP?
National headlines will focus on the “match-up” between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. While I certainly appreciate the fact that Sunday’s game could be the final time Rodgers and Brady share the field, Rodgers is outperforming Brady across the board. Two teams (Saints and Chargers) have scored 30+ against the Buccaneers. In both of those games, Brady contributed to the cause with a pick-6. In games Brady has not thrown an interception, the Buccaneers allowed 10 and 19 points respectively. In his first year in a new system, Brady showed signs of progress watching his QB rating steadily improve from weeks 1-4. Then, in a week-5 loss to the Bears, Brady’s QB rating dipped to 86.7, he was sacked three times, and lost track of downs on the Buccaneers final offensive possession. At the age of 43, Brady’s magic is occasional.