Sunday, September 28, 2008
Green Bay Packers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1 PM ET
Going into this game, the Packers are either going to be high on momentum or utterly out of gas. They could lose two absolutely deflating games to the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys, or they could be 3-0 with oh so much momentum. The Buccaneers are interesting adversary for this pivotal game as well. The former NFC Central rival did win the NFC South last season, but they won it with a record of 9-7 and they struggled down the stretch before losing in the Wild-Card round to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. The Buccaneers are a decent team that the Packers should be able to beat, but there are some matchups that need to be exploited for this to happen.
Packers secondary vs. Buccaneers quarterbacks: The Bucs have a lot of quarterbacks on their roster that could all start this year. Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, and Brian Griese are the favorites while rookie Josh Johnson is hanging around. The lack of a set-in-stone starter takes away from continuity in the offense. Instead of having one starter with the first team every practice, the team cycles through the quarterbacks and the team has to adjust to each individual one. This is detrimental to the development between the offensive line and quarterback, running backs and quarterback, and wide receivers and quarterbacks. Essentially the whole team. The Packers secondary has to take advantage of the different timing between the wide receivers and quarterbacks in this game by searching for routes to jump, playing tight coverage, and looking for every opportunity to make wide receiver and quarterbacks life miserable.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Tampa Bay linebackers: The Bucs have a very good linebacking corps, with Derrick Brooks, Cato June, and Barrett Ruud all manning the second level of the defense. These three playmakers will most likely be licking their chops to get a shot at Rodgers, who will have already faced two tough defenses in three weeks. Rodgers will have to make quick decisions along with not getting fooled by unusual coverages and linebacker blitzes. Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson will also be counted on to pick up a blitzing linebacker, giving Rodgers time to find an open receiver.
Chad Clifton vs. Gaines Adams: This is an unusual pick for an important matchup, but the play of these two players will have a direct impact on the outcome of the game. Adams is a speed rusher coming from Rodgers’ blindside. Clifton protects that blindside. Adams is young and spry. Clifton is aging and feeling the effects of that Warren Sapp cheapshot. Adams will be counted on to put pressure on Rodgers and rush his progressions, while Clifton will need to protect that blindside and keep A-Rod in one piece.
The Verdict: I’m predicting a good old fashioned NFC Central slugfest in this one, with the Packers pulling it out, 17-13.
The Packers are 3-1 after four weeks of the season.
Topics: Barrett Ruud, Brandon Jackson, Brian Griese, Cato June, Chad Clifton, Dallas Cowboys, Derrick Brooks, Gaines Adams, Green Bay Packers, Jeff Garcia, Josh Johnson, Luke McCown, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Ryan Grant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Warren Sapp