Buccaneers game day is approaching, and it’s time for the PewterReport.com staff to offer up its weekly game predictions. Let us know what you think in the article comments section and add your prediction, too.
When: Sunday, October 18, 2020 Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET Location: Raymond James Stadium TV: FOX/NFL PLAY-BY-PLAY: Joe Buck ANALYST: Troy Aikman SIDELINE: Erin Andrews RADIO: 98ROCK 97.9 FM PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gene Deckerhoff ANALYST: Dave Moore SIDLINE: T.J. Rives Spanish Radio: 96.1 FM PLAY-BY-PLAY: Carlos Bohorquez ANALYST: Martin Gramatica
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The 4-0 Green Bay Packers have played nearly perfect football to start the 2020 season. The Packers offense hasn’t turned the ball over yet, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers has only been sacked three times this year. The Bucs have been far from perfect this year, as the team is still leading the league in penalties in 2020 after earning that dubious distinction a year ago. The Packers play a very disciplined brand of football and don’t beat themselves, while the Bucs are usually undisciplined and are their own worst enemy.
In big games like this against battle-tested, playoff-caliber teams, can the Bucs play error-free football while forcing the Packers into some uncharacteristic mistakes? That’s what has to happen in order for Tampa Bay to prevail. The Bucs are just as talented as the Packers – perhaps slightly more so, but Green Bay is simply playing better football right now I believe the Pack narrowly prevails.
If this game were played later in the year with Tom Brady and the Bucs having more experience playing together I might pick Tampa Bay to come out on top. But the Bucs just aren’t there yet. For more pre-game analysis, be sure to check out my Bucs vs. Packers – 4 Match-ups To Watch segment of this week’s SR’s Fab 5 column.
Mark Cook: Valiant Effort, But Not Quite In Green Bay’s Class
When a visiting team comes in undefeated, following a 13-3 season and an appearance in the NFC Championship game the year before, the odds aren’t in favor of an upset. Yet here we are with a Bucs football team that absolutely can pull off a win and hand Green Bay its first loss of the season. But will they? If they do then the rest of the league needs to take notice. It isn’t like the Bucs are flying under the radar by any means, but with an upset, Tampa Bay will go from a good team that is a playoff contender, to a great team you can pencil in for a deep run into the playoffs – and maybe more.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers – Photo by: Getty Images
We have talked all offseason about how loaded the Buccaneers are on offense. Well, the Packers have every bit of offensive firepower as the Bucs have, and some would argue more. When evaluating the quarterback play, you have to give Aaron Rodgers the nod so far in 2020 based on his 13 touchdown passes without an interception. Regarding the offensive line, the Packers have an edge as they have just don’t give up sacks. The two teams are fairly even at the skill positions with Green Bay with a slight edge at running back, while the Bucs have an edge at wide receiver. Defensively, it is pretty close.
So how can the Bucs win? I’d feel better if there were 65,000 screaming Bucs fans packed into Raymond James Stadium, but that won’t be the case. For Tampa Bay to win it needs to walk off the field on Sunday evening having forced Rodgers into his first interception (or more) of the season, and have the back of his jersey and rear end covered in grass stains. Regardless of the winner it likely will be a close game that comes down to the team who commits the least amount of penalties and turnovers. With that said, I trust the Packers a little more than Tampa Bay.
Jon Ledyard: Bucs Are Wearing Pewter Pants? It’s A Wrap
I could tell you how a now mostly-healthy Bucs offense is going to put up big points on Sunday, finally finding their rhythm against a Packers defense that hasn’t exactly been stellar through the team’s first four games. I could tell you about how Tom Brady is going to have such an easier time keeping the Bucs offense on schedule with Chris Godwin to target over the middle of the field, and I could tell you about how a Packers defense that is 30th in pressures and 30th in blitz rate won’t be able to overcome this Bucs offensive line.
Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski – Photo by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I could tell you how this Bucs’ defense, roundly criticized after last week’s performance against the Bears, will again give up some points and yardage, but will make the plays when it matters most. I could tell you how a Packers offense that hasn’t committed a turnover all season will finally commit one late in the game on Sunday; on a Shaq Barrett strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers early in the fourth quarter.
I could tell you all of that, but do I really need to? The Bucs are wearing white jerseys with pewter pants first the first time on Sunday. PEWTER PANTS. It’s a wrap.
Taylor Jenkins: Bucs Fall Short Again, Move To 3-3
As the undefeated Packers come off of a Week 5 bye week and head to Tampa Bay to face the Bucs – a battle between former NFC Central foes as many long-time Bucs fans remember – Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense has been firing on all cylinders while Tampa Bay hasn’t quite perfected the art of staying out of their own way.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers – Photo by: Getty Images
While the Bucs’ defense has forced nine turnovers, gotten to the quarterback for 17 sacks and allowed just 298.3 yards per game to their opponents through five weeks, its struggles keeping quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Nick Foles off the scoreboard as of late raises concerns. And the Packers’ top-ranked scoring offense (38 points per game) has predicated itself on not giving away opportunities, committing zero turnovers through four games, allowing Rodgers to be sacked just three times and converting 51.11 percent of their third downs, good for the fourth-best mark in the NFL.
On the other side of the coin, a seemingly-healthy Bucs offense should be able to put points on a Green Bay defense that’s allowing 353.2 yards and over 25 points per game to opponents, but avoiding drive-killing penalties on offense and executing an aggressive game plan on both sides of the ball to perfection will be the biggest keys for Tampa Bay if they want to escape Week 6 with a win.
The Bucs are finally getting healthier on the offensive side of the ball at a time they need it the most with the return of wide receiver Chris Godwin and running backs LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette, who only dressed last week in an emergency situation. With a full arsenal, the Bucs offense will need to lead the way in order to win, and they’ll have the ability to score on a Packers defense that has allowed 25 points per game.
Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
If there’s anyone that Tampa Bay has to worry about facing against the defense of the Packers, it’s edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, who has five sacks on the season. Keeping Tom Brady upright will be paramount on Sunday, and if Tampa Bay can do that, Green Bay will have to pick their poison in trying to stop either Mike Evans or Godwin – even with a very good player in Jaire Alexander at cornerback.
While the Bucs are getting healthy on offense, their defense is not. Nose tackle Vita Vea is done for the year, cornerback Carlton Davis III is not 100 percent, and rookie defensive tackle Khalil Davis’ absence will hurt the rotation on the defensive line. The Packers on the other hand are getting star receiver Devante Adams back, not to mention they’ve been averaging 38 points a game without him. It’s going to be very tough to bring down Aaron Rodgers, as he’s been sacked only three times this year. With both offenses in full gear, we should see a high scoring affair in this one.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com