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Three Reasons The Green Bay Packers Should Be Extremely Worried About The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into Lambeau Field Sunday for the NFC Championship Game. GETTY IMAGES

Tampa Bay went into New Orleans Sunday night and knocked off the Saints, 30-20, in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

Green Bay (14-3) will now host the Buccaneers (13-5) in the NFC Championship Game Sunday at 2 p.m.

The teams met in Week 6 and Tampa Bay routed Green Bay, 38-10. The Packers are an early 3.5-point favorite.

Here are three reasons why the Packers should be leery of the Buccaneers pulling off the upset.

1. Tom Brady

Most historians consider Brady the greatest player in NFL history.

Brady spent his first 20 seasons in New England where he won six Super Bowl championships, went to the big game nine times and won three NFL MVP awards.

Brady became an unrestricted free agent last March and signed with Tampa Bay, where he had a terrific season. Brady threw for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and had a passer rating of 102.2.

Brady has a remarkable 32-11 record in the postseason, including a 2-0 mark this year with Tampa Bay. To understand just how impressive that is, Joe Montana ranks second all-time among quarterbacks with 16 playoff wins.

Brady will be playing in a conference championship for the 14th time in his career (13 in New England, one in Tampa Bay). Montana also ranks second in that category with seven.

And Brady is trying to add to his remarkable legacy by winning a Super Bowl with a second team.

“He is one of the greatest of all time for a reason and he does everything the right way,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Brady. “Obviously, his career speaks for itself in terms of just his ability to produce no matter really who’s out on the field with him. It’s been pretty impressive to watch, you know, and still playing at this age, he’s still playing at a high level.”

2. Weapons, weapons, weapons

Brady is playing with one of the most talented supporting casts of his magnificent career.

Wideout Mike Evans has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards all seven of his NFL seasons and has reached three Pro Bowls. Chris Godwin has more than 3,000 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns the last three seasons. And Antonio Brown had six straight seasons with at least 100 receptions between 2013-18.

The 1-2 running back punch of Ronald Jones (978 yards) and Leonard Fournette — the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft — rivals any in football.

And tight ends Rob Gronkowski (45-623-7) and Cameron Brate (28-282-2) are an incredibly dangerous duo.

“They’re very athletic and a very fast team, and offensively they’re capable of some big-time plays,” LaFleur said of Tampa Bay’s offense. “They’ve got great skill positions. There’s a lot to like about the talent that they have. Their runners, they’ve got two extraordinary runners. They’ve just got a lot of good pieces.”

3. Dominant defense

Tampa Bay ranked first in rushing defense (80.6), sixth in total defense (327.1), eighth in points allowed (22.2) and fourth in sacks (48). If there’s a weak link, it’s that the Buccaneers ranked just 21st in passing defense (246.6).

The Buccaneers have the best inside linebacking duo in football with Devin White (140 tackles, nine sacks) and Lavonte David (117 tackles). Outside linebackers Jason Pierre Paul (9.5 sacks) and Shaq Barrett (8.0 sacks) are outstanding.

Veteran nose tackle Ndamukong Suh anchors the defensive line. The secondary is packed with young, gifted players led by corners Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting, and rookie safety Antonio Winfield.

“I think they’re a very talented group,” Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said of the Buccaneers.

During Tampa Bay’s rout of Green Bay in October, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished with a miserable quarterback rating of 35.4. Rodgers completed just 16-of-35 passes for 160 yards with no touchdown passes and two interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown.

Tampa Bay had five sacks against Green Bay, the most the Packers allowed this season. Green Bay also finished with a season-low 201 yards and averaged a pedestrian 3.3 yards per play.

“I don’t think you want to totally flush something like this,” Rodgers said after the Tampa Bay loss. “I think you have to be as critical as you are during the wins as you are during the stinkers. I think it’s important for us to realize the whys, and it was more than – obviously the turnovers didn’t help but like I said I don’t think we were very efficient the entire night. So we’ve got to do a better job in certain areas moving forward.

“When you’re playing a really good defense like that … we’ve got to be able to move the ball efficiently, to get the ball out of my hand, to get open on time. And obviously I have to take care of the ball better.”

Source: Forbes

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