With kickoff approaching, here are five things to watch for as the Green Bay Packers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 4-0 Green Bay Packers travel to Tampa Bay to face the 3-2 Buccaneers this afternoon. But before kickoff arrives, here are five things in particular that I’ll have my eyes on today.
As I’ve already discussed this week, I am pleasantly surprised by how well Billy Turner has played at right tackle. In 75 pass-blocking attempts this season, Turner is yet to be called for a penalty and hasn’t allowed a sack or a quarterback hit. He’s also been ranked very highly by ESPN’s pass-block win rate metric, which measures how often an offensive lineman can hold their block for at least 2.5 seconds.
This week, however, Turner will face his toughest test in Shaquil Barrett, one of the league’s premier pass rushers. Last season, Barrett led the NFL in sacks with 19.5, and this year he has already totaled 27 pressures along with two sacks, according to Pro Football Focus ($). This will be an important matchup to watch.
Green Bay Packers’ pass rush
After ranking top-5 in the NFL last season in terms of pressure rate, the Green Bay Packers currently rank 25th. Now, the good news is that Za’Darius Smith is coming off a monster game, and Kenny Clark returns as well, which should help free up The Smiths.
When Tom Brady is under pressure, his passer rating plummets from 109.8 to just 47.7. If the Green Bay defensive front can consistently get after Brady, it is going to make things much more difficult for this Bucs’ offense.
Green Bay Packers’ CB2
The Green Bay Packers’ secondary will have to do their best to contain Mike Evans and Chris Godwin today, and they may have to do so without Kevin King, who is a game-time decision with a quad injury. If he can’t go, the Packers will either have to move Chandon Sullivan out wide or rely on Josh Jackson or Ka’dar Hollman. And as you can imagine, that could pose an issue for this Packers’ defense.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams
Led by the dynamic duo that is Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, the Packers are averaging 150.8 rushing yards per game this season, which is the fifth-most in the NFL. But this week, they will up against the league’s stingiest run defense. The Bucs are allowing just 58.4 rushing yards per game this season and only 2.48 yards per carry. This is an excellent Packers’ offensive line and a fantastic Bucs’ defensive front; let’s see who can get the bigger push.
Through five games, this has been a very undisciplined Buccaneers team. They lead the NFL in total penalties and are second in penalty yards. Between false starts and holding calls, the offensive line unit has been the biggest offender. Against Chicago, we saw careless penalties stall drives for this Tampa offense and extend drives for the Bears. It’ll be interesting to see if that continues this week.