The idea of two future hall-of-fame QBs matching up in the regular season is enough to make any media person as giddy as Christmas morning. But in reality, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady will never actually be on the field at the same time, so are they really matching up? No. While it still makes for a good story (and good clickbait) the real matchup is not Tom vs. Aaron, but Green Bay’s top scoring offense (38 PPG) vs Tampa Bay’s resurgent defense.
The Packers offense has been on a torrid pace through the first four games of the 2020 season. But coming off a week five bye, the Packers face their biggest test yet.
Tampa Bay’s defense has been their calling card in 2020, specifically their run defense. The Bucs have surrender 2.7 yards per carry and 58.4 yards per game — both good for best in the NFL. Even more impressive is the group of RBs they held to these merger statistics: Alvin Kamara, Christian Mccaffrey, Melvin Gordon, Austin Eckler (injured during game) and David Montgomery.
Tampa Bay’s stout run defense is not a fluke. In 2019, the Bucs’ run defense finished first in total yards yielded (1,181) and yards per carry (3.3). This was overshadowed due to their horrendous pass defense. The Bucs gave up 4,322 yards and 30 TDs through the air in 2019. For reference, only two QBs threw for over 4,200 yards and 30 TDs in 2019: Jameis Winston and Dak Prescott.
Tampa Bay’s pass defense has still given up yards at an average rate in 2020, but unlike 2019, they are forcing turnovers (6 INT, 5th most in NFL) and sacking the QB (17 sacks, 4th most in NFL) — two major keys to defensive success.
Tampa Bay will relish the opportunity of disrupting a top offense led by one of the best QBs of all time.
Easier said than done, Mr. White.
Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s offensive strengths play directly into the strengths of Tampa Bay’s defense.
Tampa Bay relies on turnovers to keep points off the board, but the Packers have yet to turn the ball over in 2020, and according to PFF, Rodgers has not even had a play that COULD have been a turnover.
Tampa Bay’s pass rush has seven different players with multiple sacks on the season. However, the Packers have only allowed three sacks all year, and while it has been a collective effort from the entire offensive line, Corey Linsley has been utterly fantastic.
Lastly, the key to Tampa Bay’s defense is their ability to stop the run — even the best runners in the game. Aaron Jones will have his work cut out for him, but he is no slouch (5.8 yards per carry, 4 TDs) and is just as talented as any of the RBs the Bucs have faced so far. Also, the last time these two teams played each other Brett Hundley was Green Bay’s QB, and Aaron Jones ended the game on 25-yard TD run in OT.
Sunday’s matchup will be a battle of strengths and may be a postseason preview.
Note: HOW IS THIS NOT A PRIMETIME MATCHUP?!?!——————
Kirien is a big fan of the Packers, Beer, and Battlestar Galactica. You can follow him on twitter at @KirienSprecher.