By J.T. Olson
Bucs Report Special to Sports Talk Florida
Week three of the NFL season is here and we already have a potential NFC championship preview. This Sunday the Green Bay Packers travel south to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is a highly anticipated rematch of the NFC championship game from two seasons ago.
While the teams are similar to the last time these two played each other, there have been some notable changes. The modern versions will now have to prove their still contenders to win it all. Here’s how they matchup in our game preview.
Packer Wide Receivers vs Buccaneers Secondary
The Packers lost their star receiver Devonte Adams in the offseason. Adams, perhaps the best wide receiver in the NFL, left a large void to fill. To this point Green Bay hasn’t found any adequate way to replace that production.
Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins are two established, although unspectacular, targets. The Packers also have a pair of talented rookies in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Together these men will try to fill Adams’ shoes.
This deep pool may find this to be a more difficult task than anticipated. The Buccaneers secondary has looked great through two games. This seems likely to continue in week three.
So far, three of the four starters in the Bucs secondary have at least one interception. As a unit they are allowing just 190.5 passing yards per game. This week could improve that number with no clear cut number one receiving option.
Buccaneers Offensive Line vs. Packers Defensive Line
I won’t say that this is an advantage for the Bucs offensive line. After all, from the center to the entire left side has two career starts or fewer. However, I will say that this is a battle that the Bucs line can win.
Robert Hainsey and Luke Goedeke have looked better than expected so far. Yes, they have had their ups and downs, but that is to be expected from a pair of first time NFL starters. In large there has been a lot more good than bad and they will only get more consistent with experience.
The Packers present an interesting test for the Bucs young line. While there is certainly talent on this Green Bay defensive front, it isn’t a great group overall.
Kenny Clark is a star nose tackle and one of the best pass rushers at his position. However, Clark and this defensive line overall are a bit undersized. They can be pushed around upfront and that could be an advantage for a Bucs team that wants to run the ball.
Battle Of The Quarterbacks
It has to be mentioned. This game features two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Eight combined Super Bowl wins and seven combined Most Valuable Player awards.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will both have uphill battles against good defenses. They are also light on wide receiver talent for different reasons. The one who can elevate his teammates will likely be the one who walks away with a win this weekend.
These are a pair of teams that are expected to win their divisions and be Super Bowl contenders. It should be a good measuring stick for both in the young season and it is a potential playoff preview.
While I don’t think this will be an easy game, I do believe the Bucs have a clear edge. It is the home opener in Tampa Bay, so it should be an electric environment. Between that and a Buccaneers defense that is currently allowing just 6.5 points per game I expect it to be a long day for Rodgers and the Packer offense.
Packers – 20
Buccaneers – 23
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