Two of the best quarterbacks of all time go head-to-head when Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers travel south to take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4.25pm ET Sunday; TV: live on Fox).
This is not only the best game on paper for this week but one of the best we have seen so far this season. So keep reading for our full Packers vs Bucs predictions and NFL game preview, ending with betting picks. Hopefully it is more competitive than the Chiefs versus the Ravens, which ended up being a Kansas City blowout.
Are GB Packers now No.1 in NFL?
This could be an early preview of this year’s NFC Championship game. The Packers are poised to win their division as they currently sit in first place at 4-0. The Bucs will be battling it out with the Saints all season, but I ultimately think they take the division and if not they will make a playoff push via the Wild Card.
With the Chiefs loss to the Raiders last week one could argue the Packers are now the number one team in the NFL. I would comfortably make that argument and that Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league despite Russell Wilson’s tremendous start. Rodgers looks unbelievable in his second year in Matt LaFleur’s offense. He is third in the NFL in passing touchdowns with 13, first in QBR with a 92.5 rating and is the only starting quarterback with zero interceptions.
The Packers as a team have zero turnovers, which is incredible through four games. They are the only team left who has yet to commit a turnover. Tennessee is second with only one interception. The Packers’ one main flaw is their lack of takeaways. They hold on to the ball well, but they also can’t take it away from their opponents. They only have three takeaways (two interceptions and one fumble) on the season.
Tom Brady and the Bucs have five giveaways thus far. Four of the five have been interceptions thrown by Brady. Expect the Packers to get a takeaway or two this week and to put Rodgers in easy to convert opportunities on offense.
Something has to give
One of the key matchups of the day comes on the ground. The Bucs rank first in the NFL in average rushing yards allowed per game. They only allow an average of 58.4 yards on the ground per game. The Packers gain an average of 150.8 yards per game on the ground and Aaron Jones ranks fifth with 374 yards rushing through four games.
Something has to give. Generally a good run defense can stop or at least drastically slow down a good rushing attack. Expect the Bucs to continue their success on defending the run and make Rodgers beat them through the air, which he is certainly capable of doing.
The Packers rank third in the league and average 294.8 yards per game and are first scoring an average of 38.0 points per game. They should have success even if their ground game is stifled. Tampa is in the middle of the pack in passing yards allowed per game at 239.8 on average. Expect Rodgers and the vaunted passing attack to exploit this weakness.
Star wide receiver Davante Adams will be back after being a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. This will be a huge upgrade for them. One injury to keep an eye on for the Bucs is star wide receiver Mike Evans. He has been dealing with an ankle problem for much for the season. He did not practice on Wednesday, but was a limited participant on Thursday. The offense becomes quite one-dimensional when he is unable to suit up.
Another key injury comes on the defensive side of the ball. Starting linebacker Lavonte David was limited in practice on Thursday. The Packers also have a key defender whose status is uncertain for Sunday. Starting cornerback Kevin King did not practice on Thursday. On a positive note Za’Darius Smith of the Packers practiced in full on Thursday. He leads the team in sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles.
Our NFL Game Preview’s Packers vs Bucs Predictions & Betting Picks’ Advice
We are going with the Packers on the moneyline. The game opened in many USA betting spots with the Packers as slight road favorites at -1.5 points but some sharp money has bet this down to a PK.
This is an easy spot so don’t overthink it. Aaron Rodgers is coming off a bye week, getting his best weapon back against a mediocre secondary. The public seems to agree. In the very early exchanges with the sportsbooks, the Packers were receiving 68% of bets and 75% of money.
Don’t be afraid to side with the public in something that feels so obvious like the Packers winning. The extra week to rest and prepare should do wonders for the veteran unit. I expect the Packers to have a takeaway or two and exploit the Bucs through the air. I don’t think the Bucs will be able to keep up even if the hobbled Mike Evans is able to go. I see this as a comfortable 30-17 win for the Packers. So the one pick and the culmination of this preview’s GB Packers vs Bucs predictions is:
- Bet the Green Bay Packers at PK (ie: no spread, so equivalent of the moneyline) @ -110 with Bookmaker.