Packers offense vs. Bucs defense
Packers offensive line vs. Bucs pass rush
QB Aaron Rodgers had big games against Minnesota and Detroit when he was given time — or able to buy time. The Cowboys, however, piled up five sacks and forced him to scramble countless other times. Rodgers is dangerous out of the pocket, but the Cowboys pressured Rodgers in such a way that he wasn't able to square his shoulders to the line of scrimmage to have a run-pass option. If the Bucs can duplicate that feat, they'll have a great chance to win. Bucs DE Gaines Adams is becoming a force, with two sacks and an interception for a touchdown in three games. The Bucs also have eight sacks in three games, putting them well ahead of last year's pace of 33 sacks. The rush is getting better after a couple of down years.
Packers receivers vs. Bucs cornerbacks
Green Bay's receivers led the NFL in yards after the catch last season. They don't have big names, flashy touchdown dances or outrageous personas, but Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are as good as it gets in turning good plays into big plays. Tampa Bay's defensive backs have to have a good day tackling. As for coverage, between Ronde Barber, Phillip Buchanon and Aqib Talib, the Bucs have enough weapons to keep the Pack's receivers blanketed. And if they go over the middle, safeties Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson are likely to ring their bell. The Bucs have five picks in three games, and they had just 16 all of last season.
Packers defense vs. Buccaneers offense
Packers front seven vs. Buccaneers RBs
Green Bay is last in the league with 5.7 yards allowed per rush. Jon Gruden forgot about the running game against Chicago last week, but he'll no doubt test the Packers' suspect run defense on Sunday. If the Buccaneers can get ahead early, Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn will get the ball again and again. It should be noted that Graham and Dunn are averaging 5.6 yards per carry between the two of them, and Graham has added long runs to his repertoire this season. A healthy RG Davin Joseph would add some muscle to the run game, but rookie Jeremy Zuttah has done well in his place so far.
CB Tramon Williams vs. Buccaneers receivers
Tramon Williams replaces Al Harris (spleen) in the starting lineup. It's safe to assume Gruden and Brian Griese will attack Williams, not Charles Woodson. Williams held up nicely when matched up against Terrell Owens on Sunday night, but he gave up a back-breaking touchdown pass to Austin Miles in the fourth quarter. The Bucs could be short a receiver if Joey Galloway is unable to play for a second straight week. Antonio Bryant – who didn't play in the NFL last year – and Ike Hilliard have picked up the slack. Williams could draw Bryant plenty in downfield coverage.
The Packers will win if ... their run defense shapes up. Even without Harris, the Packers have to like their chances if they can put the game in Griese's hands. Offensively, the Packers will have their preferred offensive line together for the first time with center Scott Wells allegedly over his back problems. They'll have to play well because the Bucs have an impressive eight sacks.
The Packers will lose if ... Graham and Dunn run wild like Marion Barber and Felix Jones. A strong running game will wear down a Packers defensive line that lacks depth and will set up play action for Griese to go deep against Williams.
The Bucs will win if …Graham and Dunn average at least 4.5 yards per carry and the Bucs frustrate QB Aaron Rodgers with solid pass coverage. The Bucs have enough corners to play Cover 2 or even Cover 4 and blanket Rodgers' receivers. The Bucs secondary may be more talented that Dallas', though Rodgers found himself under plenty of pressure against the Cowboys. Tampa Bay will want to give him few options.
The Bucs will lose if …Griese throws 60 or more passes again and the pass rush doesn't produce. I don't see the Bucs getting a win if Griese has to throw that many times again (people are forgetting that he threw three interceptions. Trust me, Gruden has not). The Bucs are brining a pretty fierce pass rush, but if the Packers can block the front four effectively and force Tampa Bay to bring blitz packages, that opens up coverage for Green Bay's receivers.
Bill Huber: Fact is, Graham and Dunn aren't Barber and Jones, nor are they Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. There's a lot of pride, and after getting run over the powerful Cowboys last week, the Packers' defense will make a bit of a statement. ... Packers 23, Buccaneers 16
Matthew Postins: The Packers aren't quite as good as advertised, but then again neither are the Bucs. Green Bay strikes me as the best team the Bucs have faced so far and the Bucs are coming off an emotional win. Hello letdown. ... Packers 17, Buccaneers 13
Bill Huber covers the Packers for Packerreport.com
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com