Yet another win for Fabian Sommer last week (Bills -2.5) brings his record to 12-4-2 (75%) on the season. This week he’s eyeing up a total play in Lambeau!
Let’s start with some very granular analysis to classify this total.
Last week, the Bucs and Packers both had 50-point games against noodle arm Drew Brees & 9-finger Jared Goff.
Both opponents, the Rams and the Saints were paired with better defenses than both TB & GB have, in my opinion. Goff even played without a major weapon in Cooper Kupp.
Defensive performance matters.
But offensive performance is usually more predictive and stable than defensive performance and, in this matchup, we are getting two top-6 offenses in EPA/play going against each other.
In addition, they are also the two best scoring offenses:
- Green Bay is averaging 31.2 points per game
- Tampa Bay is averaging 30.7 PPG
- The Packers are averaging 3.22 points per drive
- The Bucs are averaging 2.74 points per drive
If both teams only get a below-average number of 9 drives in this game and perform to their season average in terms of points per drive, we are talking about a rough expectation of 53.64 total points
The weather should not be an issue, according to current reports (Wednesday morning US time).
There could be some snow overnight and in the morning, but the two weather forecast apps I use tell me that there’s a slim chance of snow during the game and we are looking at roughly 5 mph of winds.
The precipitation probability is below 25% and we could even be looking at a clear sky. However, the forecast can still change until game time. However, the probability of a change in the wind forecast that could have an impact on the passing game looks close to zero.
In my opinion, this total should rather be in the range of 53-54.
Let’s dive into the matchup
The Packers pretty much destroyed the best defense in the league in the divisional round, so why should the Bucs be able to stop them?
Forget the first meeting of these teams in week six
Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the season, the Bucs were able to anticipate some routes and Todd Bowles dialled up some efficient blitz packages. After the game, Rodgers even admitted that the Bucs knew what was coming and they have to adjust in that area.
Todd Bowles called a masterpiece against the Saints, but he had the advantage of scheming against noodle arm Drew Brees, who wasn’t physically able to push the ball downfield or hit intermediate routes with enough push into tight frames.
There was no margin for error and the Bucs benefited.
In five-wide, Tampa Bay played aggressive man coverage – you won’t do that against Rodgers or you get burned.
I think the Packers will work the quick game to counter Bowles’ blitzes, take what the Bucs give them and look for some deep shots when the Bucs corners sit on routes underneath.
If they let Devante Adams work on an island – on some of those cover-1 blitzes – it’s easy for Green Bay.
Tampa Bay might get DT Vita Vea back from his fractured ankle, but I doubt he plays more than 50% of the snaps. Vea is Tampa Bay’s best run defender among the interior line, so that might even force the Packers a bit more to establish the pass on early downs against a pass defense that has put up average numbers in terms of EPA/dropback during the season and got worse as the season progressed.
The Packers defense has looked good this season, but they were kind of fortunate with their schedule in general.
I am not entirely sold on the Packers D and I think the Bucs should be able to move the ball on them
The Packers’ pass rush should largely get neutralized by the Bucs’ offensive line, as it did in the first game. Tampa Bay should have some success in the run game but also spread the ball around.
The Packers spend a lot of the time in dime formations, but aside from stud Jaire Alexander, they don’t have the cornerbacks to cover two out of Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine will likely put safety Darnell Savage a lot on Rob Gronkowski, who has the athleticism to cover him. The Bucs will probably try to attack cornerbacks Chandon Sullivan and Kevin King with Godwin and Brown, because that’s likely their best matchup to move the ball and create explosive plays.
The Packers are one of the best teams when it comes to scoring early and scripting drives to start a game which might immediately put some pressure on Tompa Bay to open up their passing game more than it did last week at New Orleans.
The Bucs should know that they need to put up points here.
I see this game playing out like a 30-24, 30-27, 33-30 kind of game.
- Bucs/Packers OVER 51 (-108 / 1.93)