The defense of the Green Bay Packers has a massive task awaiting on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterbacked by Tom Brady and loaded with playmakers, finished third in the NFL in points in 2020 and scored at least 30 points in each playoff game.
– The Buccaneers have passed the ball 22 times but run 40 times on first down in two playoff games. The offense is averaging nearly five yards per rush on first down in the postseason. The Packers have to be good against the run on early downs.
– The playaction passing game has been effective for the Bucs. Three of Tom Brady’s four touchdown passes in the postseason have included some kind of run action. The Packers really have to be disciplined on Sunday.
– Don’t forget about tight end Cameron Brate. He actually leads the Buccaneers in receiving yards in the playoffs. Of his eight catches, four have gained 19 or more yards. Rob Gronkowski burned the Packers in the first meeting, but the defense can’t sleep on Brate either.
– Getting off the field on third down in the red zone will be crucial. Brady threw two touchdown passes on third down in the first meeting, and he tossed critical touchdown passes on third down in wins over both Washington and New Orleans.
– Chris Godwin is the most dangerous slot weapon for the Bucs. He is a strong intermediate route-runner. Chandon Sullivan will have his hands full. Keep in mind, however, that Godwin has really struggled catching the football consistently in the postseason.
– Tackling the Bucs running backs will be a challenge. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are both big backs who could thrive in cold weather. They’ve picked up a lot of yards after contact in the postseason.
– Fournette has been a factor as a receiver too. His nine catches in the playoffs are tied for the most on the Bucs. Of his nine catches, six gained first downs or touchdowns. He’s capable as a checkdown receiver.
– The Bucs are starting a new right guard. Winning matchups against Aaron Stinnie could really help the Packers get the necessary pressure on Brady. The Saints beat him a couple of times last week.
– The offensive tackles look great. Both Donovan Smith and rookie Tristan Wirfs have been excellent. The inside of the Bucs line is the vulnerable part of the group. Keep an eye on Za’Darius Smith rushing inside on passing downs.
– Brady leads all playoff quarterbacks in attempts and completions on passes thrown over 20 yards, per Pro Football Focus. He’s going to take his shots. Mike Evans and Godwin are the preferred targets (nine total in the playoffs). Jaire Alexander on Evans is going to be a great matchup.
– Scotty Miller is a capable secondary weapon, and he’ll be playing more with Antonio Brown out. Don’t be surprised if Brady gives him a shot or two down the field. He has speed and tracks the ball well on vertical routes.
– From a clean pocket, Brady has a 110.4 passer rating and an adjusted completion percentage of almost 75. It’s been said all week, but pressuring Brady is crucial.
How the Packers can beat the Buccaneers and get to Super Bowl LV