Championship Weekend is here, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are apart of it! After not winning a playoff for 18 years, the Bucs have won two in a row and find themselves one win away from a Super Bowl appearance. Tampa Bay will head north to face the Green Bay Packers in another battle of top tier quarterbacks. The NFC championship game will air on Fox at 3:05 pm EST Sunday afternoon.
Brady vs Rodgers
Championship weekend will be the fourth time these two quarterbacks have met head-to-head. Brady has 3-1 record against Rodgers, going 2-1 in his 20 years as a New England Patriot. His only loss came at Lambeau Field in 2014. Brady threw for 245 yards and 2 TDs and Rodgers threw for 368 yards and 2 TDs. The packers got out to a quick start and although Brady and the Patriots battled their way back into the game, the difference was a scoreless first quarter.
One of those meetings came earlier this year when Tampa Bay handled the Packers 38-10 back in week six. After jumping out to an early 10-0 lead, the Bucs picked off Aaron Rodgers twice and scored 38 unanswered points. This was the first time since 2017 that Rodgers had thrown more than a single interception in a game. It was one of Green Bay’s worst performances of the year. However since then the Packers have gone 8-3 lead by Rodgers who is a candidate for league MVP. Despite only throwing for a 166 yards, Brady would throw two touchdowns. Since then however the Bucs have also improved. They’ve gone 7-3 since and have refined their game. It’s unexpected that this Championship game will follow the same script as the week 6 matchup.
Defensive is Key
Tampa Bay’s defense stole the show in the divisional round against New Orleans. They intercepted Drew Brees three times along with a forced fumble. However, Brees was unable to throw the ball vertically due to numerous injuries. Rodgers on the other hand has no such incapacitations. Green Bay has the top offense in the league and has averaged 33 points a game over their win streak. They are very capable of stretching the field with receivers Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Devante Adams. The Buccaneers young secondary will be tested much more often. In addition to the passing game, shutting down the run will be paramount if the Bucs hope to prevail on championship weekend. When the Packers rush for over a 100 yards, their margin of victory is 13. When they rush for under a 100, that number is cut to 4. The Bucs’ will gain a huge piece in Vita Vea which should not only help stop the run, but free up space free up space for the edge rushers. Nevertheless, Tampa’s Defense will have step up and build upon their stellar performance from last week.
Good offensive start
Brady and Buccaneers are going to have to keep pace with the leagues best offense and they are very capable of doing so. However, starts on the offensive side of the ball have been a problem for the Bucs. At point, they were outscored 57-7 in first quarter scoring. Old habits appeared last week as the Buccaneers went three and out on their first two possessions. In fact all of the Bucs touchdowns came off a short field created by turnovers. The offensive was only able to muster 9 points on its own. If Tampa Bay is to have a chance, they will have to start fast out of the gate. In a game between two high powered offenses, every possession is critical and the Bucs cant afford to waste any. The Buccaneers will also need to continue their run game. The duo of Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette will need to be a big part of Tampa’s gameplan.
Championship weekend weather
It is not surprising at all that it will be cold at Lambeau in January. The forecast has the temperate in the high 20’s and a 40 percent chance of snow flurries. Despite this the Buccaneers have numerous players who are used to playing in cold weather. Although it won’t be a deciding factor, it makes the run game that much more important.
History on the line.
It has been a special season for the Buccaneers. Despite no OTA’s and no training camp, Tampa Bay has been able to bring in a new quarterback into system and succeed. The fact that they are apart of Championship weekend after 13 years of not sniffing the postseason is special. This is especially true for a fanbase starving on-field success. However, if they can pull out a win, the Bucs will be the first team in history to play in a Super Bowl in their home city. Not that a trip to the Super Bowl needs any extra motivation, this is bound to provide some. The Bucs’ are three point underdogs but in reality, this game is likely to be a coinflip. Both teams have the talent and tools to move on, so for trying to predict what will happen would be fruitless. That being said, both the players and the fans should be proud of what they’ve done and enjoy the ride.
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