Packers: Five players key to victory in NFC Championship Game

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

2. Offensive line

Green Bay was completely embarrassed in the Week 6 game. Even more so was the offensive line.

The Packers gave up five sacks that game, by far the season-high. Tampa’s blitz scheme and stunts had the line confused and Rodgers paid the price.

Maybe more than anyone, Rick Wagner needs his redemption against the Bucs. He replaced an injured David Bakhtiari and was more a turnstile than a lineman. Wagner was a fish out of water playing the left side but now he is back at his preferred right side with Billy Turner holding down the left side very well.

The bad game wasn’t solely on Wagner. Bakhtiari didn’t leave the game until the third quarter when Tampa already had a huge lead. The entire line played their worst game of the season. Collectively, they must have taken that game very personal because their play has been nothing short of stellar since then.

Unlike last week when Green Bay had one major concern and a few minor concerns along the line, Tampa has playmakers at every level and Todd Bowles loves to use them.

Devin White has developed into one of the best inside linebackers and is paired with a former Pro Bowler Lavonte David, making as good of a middle as the Packers have seen. White’s nine sacks are more than a middle linebacker usually has and his speed has to be dealt with.

Jason Pierre-Paul, while not the player he used to be, is still someone to be reckoned with. As is old nemesis Ndamukong Suh.

Suh and Rodgers have and will go back and forth at each other. Suh has been known to take a cheap shot on the Packers, stomped on Evan Dietrich-Smith’s arm, as well as Rodgers’ leg, and is a penalty waiting to happen.

If last week’s contest is any indication, the play of Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins just might entice Suh into some extracurricular activity. It’s not that Jenkins is a dirty player, he just dominated Aaron Donald into frustration and he decided to take it out on the Packers guard.

The entire line will have to keep this in mind when dealing with Suh and not do anything to hurt their team.

Protecting Rodgers will be priority number one but 1A is opening holes in the ground game. As they have done all season long, they will need to open holes for Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon.