Two of the NFL’s highest-scoring teams will meet on Sunday, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl 55. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to Green Bay to battle Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship. The Packers are currently a 3.5-point favorite over the Bucs, with an over/under of 51.5 during this battle between two of the league’s most-dangerous passing offenses.
The Bucs hosted the Packers in Week 5 and spanked them 38-10.
The winner of the NFC title game will advance to the Super Bowl for a shot at potentially thwarting Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs from winning back-to-back Super Bowls.
Super Bowl 55 will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, which means that the Bucs are one more victory away from playing the Super Bowl on their home turf.
|#5 Tampa Bay Bucs (11-5) at #1 Green Bay Packers (13-3)
- Kickoff: 1/24/21 12:05 pm ET
- Location: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
- Point Spread: GB -3.5
- Total: 51 o/u
- Moneyline: TB +155 / GB -175
Road to NFC Championship: Bucs at Packers
It doesn’t take a room of Hollywood writers to pen a narrative like the NFC Championship game. You have two elite quarterbacks squaring off, with Aaron Rodgers seeking his first championship in a decade against an aging gunslinger in Tom Brady and his new posse, who will be riding into town to stop him.
The Bucs went 11-5 during the regular season, but finished in second place in the NFC South. The New Orleans Saints beat the Bucs twice during the season to secure the NFC South division crown. The Bucs got their revenge in the postseason.
The Bucs were awarded the #5 seed on the NFC side of the NFL postseason bracket. They won back-to-back road games to advance to the NFC Championship. During the wild-card round, the Bucs defeated the stubborn Washington Football Team 31-23. In the NFC divisional round, the Bucs defeated the New Orleans Saints 30-20 at the Superdome. The game was Drew Brees’ last before he retired.
The Packers posted a 13-3 record this season, which tied them for the second-best record in the league. The Packers had the best record in the NFC and locked up the #1 seed. They had the benefit of bye during the wild-card round. In the divisional round last week, the Packers knocked out the #5 LA Rams with a 32-18 victory. The Rams came in with a banged-up quarterback and a wounded Aaron Donald. The Rams had the best defense in the NFL, but couldn’t slow down Rodgers and the high-scoring Packers.
Brady and Rodgers have never met in the postseason, though they’ve played each other three times in New England/Green Bay matchups. Brady leads the series 2-1.
Green Bay’s High-Octane Offense
Rodgers has three healthy wide receivers led by Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and MVS. Tight end Robert Tonyan is the secret weapon with 11 touchdowns this season.
Last weekend against the Rams, the Packers weren’t slowed down by the top-rated defense in the league. Davante Adams caught nine passes for 66 yards and a touchdown against Jalen Ramsey, one of the best shutdown CBs in the league. Allen Lazard stepped up with four receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. The Packers also poked holes in the Rams’ defense. Aaron Jones rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Rodgers leads a high-volume offense. He tossed 48 touchdowns and only five interceptions this season, but two of them came against the Bucs.
Green Bay’s O-Line allowed only 21 sacks this season, ranking #2 overall. They will be missing left tackle David Bakhtiari, who blew out his knee during practice before the final game of the season.
Green Bay’s defense (ranked #14 in DVOA) is their weak point, especially their run D. But hey, who needs a defense when you have Rodgers and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense?
Tampa Bay Offense: Brady Loaded with Weapons
Brady will play in his ninth conference championship game in the last decade. One of the reasons he signed with Tampa Bay was because of their highly skilled receiving corps.
Everyone thought Brady was washed up during his last season in New England, but it looks like he may have found the fountain of youth in Florida. He tossed 40 touchdowns and 4,626 yards for second-best in the league behind Mahomes and KC. Tampa Bay averaged 30.8 points per game, making them third-best in the NFL behind the Packers and Buffalo Bills.
Brady is loaded with offensive weapons, including three dangerous wide receivers. Mike Evans (70 catches, 13 TD, and 1,006 receiving yards), Chris Godwin (65 catches, seven TD, 840 yards), Antonio Brown (45 catches, four TD 483 yards) in just half a season. Oh and don’t forget about Scotty Miller. Tampa’s fourth wideout recorded 33 receptions for 501 yards and three touchdowns.
Tight ends Cameron Brate and Rob Gronkowski combined for 73 catches, 905 yards, and nine touchdowns during the regular season.
In the postseason, Brady and Brate hooked up for eight catches and 130 yards.
Tampa’s running game is the weakest aspect of their offense, but Ronald Jones returning to the lineup gives them a dual-back threat along with Leonard Fournette. The two combined for 13 touchdowns and 1,345 rushing yards. Fournette tallied 100+ yards from scrimmage last week, plus a touchdown.
Tampa Bay Defense: Stone Wall Run D
Tampa’s D held Rodgers to his lowest passing rating of the season with 160 yards and two interceptions in the Week 5 beatdown. The secondary also secured a rare pick-6 against Rodgers. Tampa’s defense also limited Adams to only six catches and 60+ yards.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is the mastermind behind the NFL’s toughest run defense. The Bucs stonewall opposing running backs, allowing only 80.6 yards per game. They also allow only 3.6 yards per carry on the ground. Bowles loves to blitz too. The Bucs were ranked #6 in blitz rate, with blitzes on 38% of all snaps.
The Bucs’ pass rush recorded 48 sacks this season, the fourth-highest in the NFL. They sacked Rodgers four times in Week 5, and that was with LT Bakhtiari in the lineup. Without Bakhtiari, the Packers’ O-line will have its hands full.
TB’s secondary ranked #6 with 15 interceptions, including two against Rodgers in Week 5.
Special Teams: Old Man Crosby Gives GB Edge
In the playoffs, it’s the little things that can determine the difference in the postseason. Punting and kicking become even more vital than they are during the regular season.
Which team in the NFC Championship has a better kicker? The edge goes to Green Bay and veteran Mason Crosby, who spent all 14 seasons of his career with the Packers.
Tampa’s Ryan Succop is ranked #9 in kicking with 28 field goals. He went 28-for-31 on the season for a 90.3 percentage. He went 1-for-2 on 50-plus kicks.
Crosby had a perfect season (16-for-16), but didn’t get many chances because the Packers were able to score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. Crosby was a perfect 4-for-4 from 50-plus yards and 9-for-9 from 40-plus. He went 59-for-63 in extra points, with only four misses. Last week, Crosby connected on 1-for-2 in field goals, yet made all of his XPs.