Packers Periscope: Week 13 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Green Bay Packers return home to Lambeau Field to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.  Following a last-second loss in Pittsburgh and in a game the Packers weren't expected to compete in at all, Green Bay now has to find a way to bounce back as they can't really afford to lose any more games this season.

Tampa Bay and Green Bay, once dubbed "The Bay of Pigs" by former ESPN analyst Chris Berman,  haven't faced each other in nearly three seasons or much in the last decade.  On to the history and current state of this week's match up.

The Past

This series started in 1977 and these teams were division rivals until 2001, facing each other twice each season.  Green Bay leads the series 32-21-1 and has won the last two meetings.

Both teams lived in infamy during many of the early years of this rivalry with the Packers winning most of the 1980's.  I particularly remember the December 1989 game that ended in a game-winning field goal by Packers kicker Chris Jacke that hooked back inside the left upright a la Mason Crosby in Dallas last season.  This writer was then seen running around his yard, screaming like a maniac.

Shortly after, the Brett Favre - Warren Sapp years were ushered in.  The two often traded barbs amidst their mutual respect for each other.  

During the Bucs 2002 Super Bowl season, Sapp would lay an infamous hit on Packers offensive lineman Chad Clifton during an interception return.  Clifton missed the rest of that season and there was some question about his ability to continue playing at all.  Packers head coach at the time, Mike Sherman, had some choice words for Sapp as the teams left the field post game.  

Since that meeting, the teams have met just six times.  During Aaron Rodgers' first year as a starter in 2008, he suffered a shoulder injury during a game in Tampa but was able to finish out.  Tampa won that game as well as the following season, when a winless Bucs team found a way to best the Pack.  Rodgers threw a pick-six in the loss and the only of his career until earlier this season.

The Packers won the next two meetings, one during the 2011 season and the other in 2014.  Rodgers suffered his famous calf injury during the 2014 game and would deal with the complications of it through the postseason.

The Present

Both teams are dealing with several injuries coming into this game, as is common as we enter the last month of the season.

The 4-7 Buccaneers should be getting quarterback Jameis Winston back for this game.  Winston has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury.  Tampa Bay won the first two and lost to the Atlanta Falcons last week.  

The Packers are coming off of the tough loss at Pittsburgh, their second in a row.  The loss dropped the Packers to 5-6 and facing the reality of having to win their remaining games to have legitimate hopes for a postseason berth.

Both teams have struggled due to quarterback issues.  Winston's inconsistent play and subsequent injury led to his having to miss time to heal while the Packers lost Rodgers in week six and have had to rely on a maturing Brett Hundley.

Winston has thrown 10 touchdown passes to six interceptions this year.  On three occasions, Winston didn't throw for a single touchdown and unsurprisingly, Tampa lost all three of those games.  He has no fewer than 15 interceptions in a season and there's a good chance he'll throw a few up for grabs this Sunday.

Hundley turned in one of his better games of the season last week, finishing with a quarterback rating over 100 and no interceptions.  His rough outing against the Baltimore Ravens in between the Chicago Bears game and last week leaves questions about which Hundley shows up this week.

Tampa has the worst defense in the league in terms of total yards per game allowed, but what does that stat really say about a defense?  The Packers have been that team in the past and still won 15 games.  To me, scoring defense says more and these teams are deadlocked in that area, allowing 23.7 points per game each.

The Bucs allow 49 percent conversion on third down but have allowed just one in seven tries on fourth down.  The Packers are giving up 42 percent on third down and a staggering 80 percent on fourth down (eight conversions on 10 attempts).

Both defenses have nine interceptions this season but Tampa has just 15 sacks which might tell us something about why they allow so many passing yards.  When given time, Hundley has come up big over the last three games.

On offense, Tampa is third in the league in passing yards per game with just under 265 but average just 81 yards per game on the ground.  The Packers are just over 100 yards rushing and just over 200 yards passing. 

With cornerback Kevin King not practicing yet this week, the Packers could be shorthanded again against the Buccaneers receiver tandem of DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans.  Jackson has been limited in practice this week with a foot injury.  Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves hasn't practiced this week due to a hamstring issue.

While Tampa Bay looks forward to Winston's return, Green Bay defensive lineman Kenny Clark also has a chance to return after practicing in limited fashion.

The Future

Despite losing last week, the Packers seem to be carrying forward the confidence of going toe-to-toe with the Steelers on the road.  A home game in what is virtually a must-win game, the scenario seems to set up well for the Packers to get back on track.

It's Winston's first game against the Packers and first in nearly a month.  Will rust be a factor?  This could become a game that is decided by turnovers and both quarterbacks have had some rough games in that area this year.

It won't be quite Tampa-like in Green Bay on Sunday, but it's expected to be near 50 degrees and cloudy.  Not quite the sub-freezing temperatures the Packers hope for late in the season and when warm weather teams come to visit.

Tampa's season is over and they have nothing to play for but pride.  Those teams can often be the most dangerous, playing with a "nothing to lose" attitude. 

The Packers, on the other hand, are playing not only for mathematical contention but to keep the hope that Rodgers will return when he's eligible and healed enough.  A loss on Sunday might make that decision for the Packers and it won't be one that the team or fans like.

There hasn't been any type of "run the table" declaration, but Packers head coach Mike McCarthy's teams have historically performed well when their backs are against the wall.  The Packers are slim two-point favorites at home and I think they make good on keeping their season alive. 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (9)

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HankScorpio's picture

December 01, 2017 at 07:45 am

Winning beats losing any day. This is a game they probably should win. But really, since I think the playoff ship has sailed, all I'm watching for is to see player development.

Can Damarious Randall continue his upward trend (if he plays)? How does Jason Spriggs hold up at RT? Do any of the group of younger players like Josh Jones, Vince Biegel, Dean Lowery, etc show something to justify some optimism they can handle a bigger role in 2018? What does Hundley do to follow up an encouraging game in Pitts? Does HHCD arrest his downward trend? Those are the kinds of questions that interests me from here on out.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 01, 2017 at 07:54 am

1 game at a time.

If Hundley plays like he did last week, I think the Packers win.
If he plays like the Ravens game, they will lose.

Which Hundley will show up?

If they can get Jones back this week that would definitely give the offense a boost. Williams is proving himself, but Jones has already proven himself. Adding Jones would give the offense 2 RB's that McCarthy trusts. It opens the play book more. Allows them to do different things.

I'm not predicting a win or loss, but I think they should be able to get a win. But it depends on how well Hundley plays, IMO.

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dobber's picture

December 01, 2017 at 08:32 am

Pound the rock.
Don't ask too much of #7.
Force a TO or two.
Don't make Jameis Winston look like Ben Roethlisberger.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 01, 2017 at 09:21 am

They already look alike.

In their mug shots.

Theyre both Rapists.

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Finwiz's picture

December 01, 2017 at 01:53 pm

Cold blooded - whoa

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Since'61's picture

December 01, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Deleted

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flackcatcher's picture

December 01, 2017 at 03:22 pm

Double Deleted

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cheesycowboy's picture

December 01, 2017 at 02:42 pm

Al. See above post. Blood needs to go.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 01, 2017 at 08:01 pm

dont you ever read the news?

Cant take the truth about your demigod heros?

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