Packers: Breaking down potential NFC title game opponents
The Green Bay Packers will host the NFC Championship Game next week.
Doesn’t it feel great to say that? It’s been a while since Lambeau Field has played host to one of these.
What we don’t yet know is who will be in the visiting locker room. That will be determined this afternoon when the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers clash in the Superdome.
It’s either Tom Brady or Drew Brees.
New Orleans dominated the head-to-head matchup with Tampa Bay this season, winning both games comfortably, but this playoff football. None of that matters.
Let’s take a look at both of the Packers’ potential opponents.
New Orleans Saints
Scoring offense rank: 5th (30.1 points per game)
Scoring defense rank: 5th (21.1 PPG)
It’s hardly been a vintage Drew Brees season. That said, the 13-time Pro Bowler still finished with 2,942 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and just six interceptions, great numbers considering he missed four games.
Star running back Alvin Kamara fell short of 1,000 yards on the ground but did finish with 16 rushing touchdowns while also leading the Saints in receiving with 756 yards and five touchdowns.
This is still an incredibly talented offense, but the Saints have won with their defense.
New Orleans has allowed just over 21 points per game while also making 45 sacks. Only three teams allowed fewer rushing yards.
This is a well-balanced, well-coached team, strong on both sides of the ball.
The Packers defeated the Saints in Week 3 at the Superdome. Both teams are a lot better than they were back in September.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scoring offense rank: 3rd (30.8 PPG)
Scoring defense rank: 8th (22.2 PPG)
The Packers had all sorts of problems against the Buccaneers’ pass rush back in Week 6. Tampa Bay pressured Aaron Rodgers all day long and finished with five sacks, while Green Bay put together by far its worst offensive performance of the season.
And it’s no surprise given the Bucs’ defensive talent. They led the NFL in run defense, allowing just 80.6 yards on the ground per game.
But despite being tied for fourth in sacks with 48, the Buccaneers rank just 21st in passing defense.
If the Buccaneers are drawn into an offensive game, they can keep up. Tom Brady, at 43 years old, threw for 40 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Mike Evans finished the season with 1,006 yards and 13 touchdowns.
With Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown, the Buccaneers have one of the deepest receiving groups in the league.
Like New Orleans, Tampa Bay is well-coached and strong on both offense and defense.
Who would you prefer to see in the NFC title game?
The Packers beat the Saints but lost to the Bucs. However, the Bucs were well-beaten by the Saints twice. New Orleans is the higher seed, but Tampa Bay has Tom Brady, and he knows how to win in the conference championship.
Who’s your pick?