Tampa took on their NFC South rivals the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 and were easily beaten 34-20. While they kept the Falcons out of the endzone in the first quarter it didn’t take long for them to break through. Julio Jones crushed the secondary for 253 yards, and while Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to keep up he just couldn’t.
Green Bay went to Pittsburgh in the Sunday prime time game and were huge underdogs, but they found some fight and were narrowly beaten 31-28. Brett Hundley was able to take advantage of several coverage miscues by the Steelers, throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns, but in the end the inability to cover Antonio Brown and keep Le’Veon Bell in check was telling.
Will the real Packers please stand up
Who are the Packers without Aaron Rodgers? Are they the team that went toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh, or the one that was shutout by Baltimore? Brett Hundley has been very tricky to get a read on so far, with moments of brilliance and moments of utter madness.
Jordy Nelson has disappeared since Rodgers got hurt, but Davante Adams has emerged, while rookie running back Jamaal Williams is finding his feet. It would be nice if these Packers could find some consistency.
Jameis Winston hasn’t played in 3.5 games after aggravating a shoulder injury against the Saints in Week 9. He is tentatively slated to be available for Sunday, and there isn’t a reason not to plug him back into the lineup if he is healthy.
This was meant to be the year that Winston took a step forward, but instead his play has been extremely inconsistent. Maybe a stint in the trainer’s room was what he needed, but the Bucs will be looking for improvements from him should he take the field again.
Tampa have been horribly disappointing, and the Packers are all-but out of the wildcard race now. So, with nothing to play for will these teams be able to put up a good show? I’m not so sure, both Dirk Koetter and Mike McCarthy have come under fire from some sections of the media recently for the falling short of expectations. We will find out if these teams are still with their coaches this week, because effort is the first thing to go if the players are disenfranchised.
Matchup to Watch: Vernon Hargreaves vs Davante Adams/Jordy Nelson
It has been a rocky year for the Bucs corner, who can’t hide in this game. Hargreaves has been inconsistent this year after an impressive rookie year in 2016, and he has struggled in particular with route running technicians. Brett Hundley has been looking more toward Adams than Nelson, but if he slips up whoever he is covering will be in for a big day.
Fantasy Tip: Packers RB Jamaal Williams
Tampa are a fairly average rushing defense, and Brett Hundley isn’t going to be allowed to throw the ball around the field unless the Packers have absolutely no other choice. Look for 20+ carries from Williams again this week.
Betting Tip: Stay away
The Packers are two-point favorites, which isn’t enough to be confident in taking the points in what is really a toss-up game. Steer clear of this one.
Prediction: Packers 23 – 20 Buccaneers
A tight one that Green Bay just pull out. The Packers defense is the most consistent unit in this game so I feel better picking them than the Bucs, but this game could really go either way. If Tampa can block the Green Bay front and give Winston time to find his guys then Tampa could easily take this one.
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