Skeleton Keys To Victory: Buccaneers vs Packers


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers playoff chances are alive and well. Even at a 6-7 record, they currently lead the NFC South and hold the 4th seed in the playoff picture. This week they will likely have to move their winning streak to three in a row to keep a hold of that lead.

This will be no easy task as they travel to the frozen tundra to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are currently in the thick of the wild card hunt with a 6-7 record as well. This game is vital to both teams playoff hopes and should be looked at as a playoff game by both teams.

The Bucs will have to play one of their best games of the year to walk away with the victory this weekend. There will be several key matchups to watch in this one that will be pivotal. Here are my skeleton key matchups to watch in this game. 

Love Lost

Over the last few games, first year starting quarterback Jordan Love has started to figure things out after a very rocky start to the season. However, let’s not forget that he is still a first year starter. Todd Bowles needs to be able to present different looks and blitz to try to confuse the young quarterback.

The Bucs are mostly health up front. With the versatility of defensive tackle Calijah Kancey and the return of Devin White, who is a very good blitzer, there should be no reason that Bowles can’t put Love through the ringer. A creative approach to pressuring Love should rattle him enough to throw off his timing.

It could even force him into turnovers. Jordan Love is currently tied for 5th in the NFL in most interceptions thrown. Granted, he has only thrown one in the last four games, but that is why it is so critical to give him different looks that he isn’t comfortable with. 

White Continues to Emerge

It took a while, but Rachaad White is finally starting to emerge as a true lead back for the Buccaneers. He has over 100 total yards in the last three games and he shows no sign of slowing down. This is great timing as they play a Packers defense who has allowed the 7th most rushing yards in the NFL. 

Part of this recent success is due to the continued development of the offensive line. Let’s not forget that the right tackle is a first year starter at the position and the right guard is a rookie. Furthermore, the starting center and left guard are guys who were expected to be backups this season. Improvement and continuity have come with more reps and those are starting to pay off.

Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales has said that he won’t abandon the run and this seems like running the ball is a critical part of who the Buccaneers want to be. With this emerging element of the Bucs offense and the Packers weakness in defending it, I expect a lot of action from White this weekend.

Big Mike Evans Day

This is a matchup that could always apply. However, with different opponents and up and down quarterback play, some weeks it needs to be a focal point more than others. This is one of those weeks.

In a vacuum, the Packers defense is actually pretty good. However, it’s worth noting that while they have talented corners such as Jaire Alexander, they do have a distinct disadvantage against a guy like Mike Evans. That is that that are all smaller defensive backs.

The Packers don’t have a corner who is over six feet tall. Against a guy like Evans who is 6’5, this is a size advantage that can’t really be schemed around. The Bucs should go to him early and often, especially in the red zone where he can go up and pull in touchdown passes.

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