Then there were four. The NFC Championship game will feature two future Hall of Famers as Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will travel to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3.05pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on FOX).
Who gets through to the Super Bowl? Read on for USA Betting’s Bucs vs Packers predictions and full NFC Championship game preview with picks.
The first of two games on Sunday’s slate is a rematch of the Week 6 domination by the Buccaneers. The Packers jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in Tampa, but surrendered 38 unanswered points to fall 38-10.
This was easily the worst game of the season for Aaron Rodgers and the Pack. The star quarterback threw zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and was sacked four times. This was the only game of the season that Rodgers didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Rodgers had two or more touchdown passes in 14 of his 16 games in the regular season. This was the Packers’ worst loss of the season by far. Their other two losses on the year were both by only one score.
The Buccaneers’ defense took over the game after getting down early and they didn’t look back. They had an interception returned for a touchdown that completely flipped the script of the game. They pressured Rodgers on 18 of his 41 pass plays and are capable of doing that again on Sunday.
During the regular season Tampa was second (only behind the Steelers) in blitz rate. This is their best bet to slowdown and potentially beat Rodgers and the Packers. According to Chris Raybon of the Action Network, Rodgers’ “45.3% completion percentage under pressure ranked 29th of 42 qualifiers during the regular season.” High rates of pressure seem to be Rodgers’ kryptonite. Expect the Buccaneers to blitz at a high rate and try to disrupt Rodgers and the high-flying Packers’ passing attack.
In the regular season the Packers’ offense was first in the NFL in points scored per game, 10th in average passing yards per game, and 8th in average rushing yards per game. Rodgers has this team as one of the best offenses in the league despite not having nearly as many weapons as Brady and the Bucs. Rodgers does have arguably the best wide receiver in Davante Adams, but not all that much in the passing game after him.
Adams led the league in touchdown receptions and was second in receptions in the regular season. He is one of the most skilled route runners and was able to be productive last week against arguably the best shutdown corner in Jalen Ramsey last week. Adams was able to haul in nine receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown. This was certainly not his best day at the office and the Packers were still able to put up 32 points on a dominant Rams’ defense.
I think the Packers will be able to ultimately chip away at a Tampa defense that is statistically the best left in the playoffs and one of the best in the league overall.
I expect the Tampa offense to lean heavily on a strong rushing attack despite having some of the better passing weapons in the NFL. They will want to control the clock on the ground and keep the wily veteran, Rodgers, cold on the sideline.
The Bucs have a strong one-two-punch with Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette. The two backs combined for 125 rushing yards in a ground that the Bucs only had 316 total yards. They were gifted several short fields thanks to Drew Brees and his three interceptions.
The Packers can be exploited on the ground at times. They were ranked 11th in the regular season in rushing yards allowed per game (111.8), but were able to hold the run-heavy Rams to under 100 yards on the ground last week. I do not expect Rodgers to make the same mistakes that Brees did last week and won’t put his defense in impossible situations. I think Rodgers will have revenge on his mind and will want to make up for his worst game of the regular season.
Our NFC Championship Game Preview’s Bucs vs Packers Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
It is near impossible to bet against Aaron Rodgers. He is one of the more dominant quarterbacks against the spread in the history of the league. In his career he is 120-84-5 ATS and he is even more dominant at home. The star quarterback thrives in the cold conditions of Lambeau Field. He is an incredible 62-35-4 ATS at home.
I am not confident that the 43-year-old Tom Brady will be able to keep up in such cold conditions. I know he played his career in frigid New England, but he’s had a full season in sunny Tampa, Florida and is not getting any younger. The high on Sunday is 28 degrees, which may have the immobile Brady even more frozen than normal.
I expect the Packers offense to be able to put up enough to win and cover this game relatively comfortably. Getting Aaron Rodgers at home as a favorite of only a field goal is a gift from the gambling gods that is too good to pass up. So these are USA Betting’s NFC Championship game, Bucs vs Packers, predictions and picks: