Three things to watch in the Green Bay Packers’ Week 13 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
To no surprise, the Green Bay Packers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-28, last week. Shockingly enough, though, the Packers competed and were defeated on a Chris Boswell 53-yard field goal as time expired.
This week, the “playoffs” begin for Green Bay as they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At 5-6, the Packers can’t afford another loss if they want to be playing in January.
Defeat this week may also mean fans will need to wait until next season to see Aaron Rodgers back under center.
Here are my three things to watch.
Wide receiver production
It was obvious once Rodgers went down that the pass attack would take a backseat with Brett Hundley.
Last week, Hundley played his best game since taking over. He completed 17-of-26 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. His 134.3 quarterback rating and three scores were both career highs.
One thing that is clear is Hundley’s favorite target is Davante Adams. Adams has caught 27 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns since Week 7, Hundley’s first start.
Veteran wideouts Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have not had much success. The two have combined for only 30 receptions, 320 yards and one touchdown. It should be noted that the lone score came last week against the Steelers, courtesy of Cobb.
Despite Nelson’s lack of production, he is still ranked 11th in the NFL with six touchdowns.
"“I’m not worried about it,” Nelson said, via ESPN.com. “I don’t think he is or I don’t want him to feel like he needs to try to get me the ball or anything. He just needs to continue doing what he’s doing, go through his read, his progression, do what the coaches are teaching him to do, and we’ll be able to execute.”"
This week against the Buccaneers is a perfect opportunity for Hundley to try and find Nelson and Cobb more. Tampa Bay’s secondary has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL.
Being able to get Nelson and Cobb more involved will make Hundley lass predictable and could open up the offense more.
Lack of pressure
The Packers have struggled all season with applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The more time these quarterbacks have, the more likely they are to carve up Green Bay’s secondary.
As a result, Roethlisberger made the Packers secondary pay, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns.
Linebacker Nick Perry leads the team with seven sacks, but nearly half (3.0) of them came against the Chicago Bears in Week 10. Despite getting paid like a Pro-Bowl linebacker, Perry has been extremely inconsistent.
Another player that can be added on the inconsistent list is defensive tackle Mike Daniels. Daniels has only played in nine games and has recored 24 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
More from Lombardi Ave
- Packers: Picks in NFL.com mock draft would be a home run
- Packers salary cap update following second week of free agency
- Packers’ cornerback depth chart after second week of free agency
- Packers’ edge rusher depth chart after second week of free agency
- Packers’ tackle depth chart after second week of free agency
After 1.5 sacks and five tackles in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, Daniels posted zero sacks and seven tackles in his next five games.
It’s officially safe to say that the best of Clay Matthews is behind us. At 31-years-old, he’s only recored 3.5 sacks, clearly lost a step and isn’t nearly as quick as he once was. Most importantly, he continues to battle through injury.
Tampa Bay will look to expose Green Bay’s secondary and target Mike Evans early and often.
Jameis Winston will return to action after missing the last three games with a shoulder injury, but will be without two starting linemen.
This is a great test for the Packers to see if they can make Winston uncomfortable and take advantage of Tampa’s depleted line.
Jamaal Williams is the latest running back to have an opportunity to prove his worth and he has certainly shined.
Williams compiled 135 total yards and two scores in last week’s loss to the Steelers.
He showcased his tough running style and even silenced critics who questioned his speed, while scoring on a 54-yard screen pass from Hundley.
Williams became the first Packers rookie running back to register a touchdown reception of 50-plus yards since fullback Jessie Clark recorded a 75-yard touchdown reception vs. Tampa Bay on Oct. 2, 1983.
Since Week 10, Williams has 304 yards from scrimmage, third among rookie running backs and sixth among all running backs.
Tampa’s run defense ranks 14th in the NFL allowing 1,220 yards. They are ranked towards the bottom of the league in rushing touchdowns allowed (10). The Bucs have given up at least 120 yards in three of their last six contests.
Aaron Jones returned to practice on Wednesday, but his status is unknown for Sunday. Williams should still be the starting back.
Expect to see more of Williams against the Buccaneers and don’t be shocked if the Packers went back to the screen play a couple of times.