It feels like forever since the Green Bay Packers last took the field. Partially because it has been quite some time, but also because the anticipation for this matchup has been high ever since the schedule was released. Rodgers vs. Brady with potential NFC Playoff implications. The Packers are looking a little bit more than ‘just a little bit’ better than the Buccaneers this season so that might not be the case, but the Packers are in hot pursuit of the top overall seed in the NFC which this season is the only team that will receive a bye in the playoffs, as well as home field advantage throughout.
There was some buzz on Twitter over the last week about what the spread was for this game. Some folks had apparently discovered the Bucs were early favorites. And they may have been according to some online sports books, but with the packers opening this week as two-point favorites, I don’t think the early lines were legitimate.
Right now, as I type this sentence, the Packers are only favored by one, which doesn’t really help us distinguish the spread from the game’s final score. If the Packers win, they cover. If they lose, they don’t cover. A tie results in a loss against the spread as well, but ties are obviously quite rare in the NFL.
So, do we think the Packers will win? Right now the odds for taking the Packers are -115 rather than -110, meaning there is a slight push from the book for you to not take the Packers against the spread. The Bucs +1 is only -105. That means a bet of $10 for the Bucs (if they win) nets you slightly more profit. And that’s intentional, at least until enough of a wager comes in on the Packers -1, in which case the line will be moved to packers -1.5 or Packers -2. I would not be surprised to see this line fall closer to Packers -3 come kickoff than the current Packers -1.
In a vacuum, I think most people would agree the Packers are the better team. In today’s league, without fans (at least not enough to make a difference) the game being on the road for the Packers doesn’t change much opinion on what the likely outcome is: The Packers should win. And with the spread being so close to zero, the obvious choice is to take the Packers to cover here.
I was hoping by this time the spread would be a little bigger so it would be a slightly tougher choice to still take the Packers, but I don’t foresee the game being within a field goal either way. Yes, the Buccaneers defense is really good, but the Packers offense is even better. And only one side had an entire extra week to prepare for this game, even though the Bucs had a longer week than normal after playing on Thursday Night Football in week five.
When the Packers defense is on the field is usually when doubt begins to creep into the minds of fans. Fortunately that’s easily wiped out as soon as #12 trots back out. The Tampa offense is still a bit of a wild card. Tom Brady can be anything between the greatest quarterback of all time or a guy who forgets what down it is. What he will be on Sunday is anybody’s guess. And that can be said about what weapons he’ll be throwing to too. It’ll be fun to watch the Packers pass rush and secondary cover what should be an elite passing attack.
But what about the biggest question mark concerning the Packers D, the running game? Well, Kenny Clark will be back this week. He was a full participant on practice each day this week and carries no injury designation for the game Sunday. He may be a bit slow to get back to full speed, but the run defense will be undoubtedly better with him on field.
I don’t see much of an opportunity for Tampa to come away with a win in this one unless we see something we haven’t yet seen from the offense. Will the Packers suddenly become turnover prone? Will the Bucs be able to get to Rodgers consistently with a rush? These are the best paths to victory for the home team Sunday, but still quite unlikley.
The packers are 4-0 this year and we are 4-0 taking them against the spread. And do you know what’s better than 4-0? 5-0.