The Green Bay Packers are set to welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Lambeau Field this Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Does the Packers offense have what it takes to attack the top-ranked rush defense?
The Green Bay Packers have been on a hot-streak as of late and are riding a seven-game winning streak heading into this weekend’s matchup against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. During their win streak, the Packers’ offense has been applying pressure to opposing defenses through their prolific passing game as well as their steady rushing attack. The team has averaged over 33 points and nearly 400 yards per game through those seven games, with an almost perfect 60/40 split of passing to rushing yards.
While the offense has found consistent footing, the Green Bay Packers’ defense has also been playing considerably better over the past two months, holding opponents to 25 points or less in all seven games, and held their opponents under 20 in five of those seven. What was once thought to be the weakness of this team has seemed to turn things around and are playing like a championship-caliber defense. Last week, the group rose to the occasion and outperformed the Los Angeles Rams and their top-ranked defense.
Once again, the Green Bay Packers are facing a tough defensive opponent this week. Tampa Bay comes to town ranked sixth in total defense and first overall against the run. One of the main reasons the Packers have been so successful during this stretch has been their ability to establish the run and create opportunities through the air with the play-action pass. Though the first matchup between these two teams in Week 6 saw Green Bay set season lows in almost every offensive statistic, there’s plenty of reason to believe that they’ll be able to run the ball more effectively this time around.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have been a dynamic duo in the backfield. The emergence of rookie A.J. Dillon has allowed head coach Matt LaFleur to start getting creative with multi-back looks and allowing Aaron Rodgers to exploit the mismatch. In the two team’s first matchup, the Green Bay Packers were without wide receiver Allen Lazard. While typically missing a receiver doesn’t have a lot of effect on a team’s running attack, Lazard is an excellent blocker and helps create extended running lanes for the backs to get through.
The Green Bay Packers offensive line has also been a massive component of their offensive success, especially in the running game. The group has been hit with injuries throughout the season and has managed to plug and play guys. While Elgton Jenkins and Corey Linsley have been getting a lot of credit as of late, Billy Turner has stepped up his game as well. Those three, along with Lucas Patrick and Rick Wagner, have done a masterful job keeping Aaron Rodgers upright and the Packers rushing attack moving.
Though this Green Bay Packers team’s recent performance has been a thing of beauty, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are riding a six-game winning streak of their own. The Bucs also have a defense full of playmakers, including potentially the best inside linebacker duo in the league. Devin White and Lavonte David have combined for over 250 tackles this season, while White has also tallied nine sacks. These two players’ speed and high football IQ have been a nightmare for many teams this season and forces opponents to focus on running the ball between the tackles, funneling things towards one of the most despised men in Wisconsin, Ndamukong Suh.
While recent memories have caused many Green Bay Packers’ fans to be skeptical of this game, mainly out of emotional self-preservation, it should be noted that the level of play from this group hasn’t been seen in Green Bay in several years. If the Packers can establish the run early against this Buccaneers defense and not turn the ball over, they should have no problem winning by double-digits.