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The NFL playoffs have given us some of the best quarterback matchups we’ve seen in quite some time. The NFC side will produce one of the most historic battles of signal callers we’ve ever seen, a mere week after already pulling that off.
Tom Brady versus Aaron Rodgers will be the NFL’s version of Captain America versus Iron man. You can’t identify who’s the good guy to root for, you only have your own preference.
Rodgers is looking to solidify his great legacy with a (very elusive) second championship. Brady can add another notch to his already stellar career, by winning a Super Bowl in both conferences. Both come in with talented teammates ready to fight it out for NFL supremacy.
Keys To The Game:
The Buccaneers should establish their run game early. They’ve averaged 134.5 rushing yards per game during the postseason. Running the football early keeps the defense second guessing with their rush and it also gives Tom Brady play action opportunities.
When passing, Brady needs to spread the ball around. Get as many players as he can involved in in the passing game. If he can get five or six different targets going, the Packers will have a hard time defending the whole field and the run game.
Tampa Bay did a great job of pressuring Aaron Rodgers in their week six matchup and they should continue that trend in this one. Rodgers is great when passing on the run, but when you force him to his left he has a hard time squaring up his shoulders to throw accurate passes. The rush right up the middle is always effective, but it has to alter his throwing lanes or else Rodgers will pick the defense apart.
The Packers need to take more shots down the field. In the week six matchup there was a ton of underneath stuff and missed opportunities. Rodgers has to make the Buccaneers pay when they make mistake.
Green Bay can’t afford to turn the ball over. The Buccaneers scored 14 points off two Rodgers’ turnovers in their regular season contest. Giving Brady and the Buccaneers a short field to work with is never a good idea.
Green Bay has been very good against the pass, not letting any opponent go over 300 yards in any game all season. They need to continue the trend of halting big plays and stopping teams from converting on third downs. Quicker drives for the Tampa Bay offense means their defense has to play more, keeping them tired and more susceptible to mistakes.
Players To Watch:
Tampa Bay – Rob Gronkowski; Tight End: Rob Gronkowski will be vital for the Buccaneers in this game. There’s nobody Tom Brady trusts more. His ability to make clutch plays and his experience this time of year should prove vital to Tampa Bay’s success.
Green Bay – Za’Darius Smith; Outside Linebacker: Packers’ edge defender Za’Darius Smith needs to get to Brady a few times in this game. If not for a sack, at least for a few knockdowns and hurries. If he can create some pressure by himself, that can shift a double team towards him and free up his teammates on defense.
In what should be a very fun, close game, I’ll take the Packers, 27-24.