Since Aaron Rodgers became the Packers Starter in 2008, he has only played the Buccaneers one time at Lambeau Field, a 35-26 win in 2011. The Buccaneers are the only team in the NFC Rodgers has played just one time in Green Bay. That will no longer be the case come tomorrow afternoon.
The Buccaneers (13-5) will battle the Packers (14-3) at 2:05pm CST on Sunday afternoon to decide the NFC representative for the Super Bowl on February 7th in Tampa. The Packers are 3.5 point favorites and will have the opportunity to advance to the Super Bowl in front of their home fans in Green Bay, playing the NFC Championship at Lambeau for the first time since 2007.
As we count down the hours, minutes and seconds until kickoff on Sunday, here are 5 reasons why I believe the Packers will beat the Bucs.
1) Lambeau Field Advantage
Unsurprisingly, I believe the Packers playing this game at Lambeau Field gives them a big advantage due to a number of reasons. First off, I believe it helps the team’s confidence, playing the NFC Title game in front of their hometown fans. Additionally, I believe it benefits the Packers because they don’t have to travel. No plane trips or foreign hotels for Green Bay, they simply get to go about their every day routines. Finally, I believe the cold weather is advantageous for the Packers. A warm-weather team like Tampa Bay plays at least 8 games a year in Florida and another 2 in the Atlanta and New Orleans dome environments.
Talent always wins out and if a team is clearly better than another team, weather isn’t a factor in deciding the winner of a game. However, when two teams are closely matched, variables like the weather increase in importance and I envision the mid 20’s climate with possible snow only helping the Packers.
2) Rodgers Speaks it into Existence
.@AaronRodgers12 spoke it into existence.
— NFL (@NFL) January 21, 2021
As you probably saw last night, the NFL is likely headed to 14 playoff teams, which would mean only one first-round bye.
— Bill Huber (@BillHuberSI) February 20, 2020
The video of Rodgers talking to Jordy Nelson on the sideline was in the 2016 NFC Championship against the Falcons. After the Packers loss in the NFC Title game last season to the 49ers, Rodgers said the same thing in his postgame press conference.
4 years of manifestation has finally become a reality. Rodgers, the team, the organization and the fans realize the heightened magnitude of Sunday’s game and the specialness that it’s finally in Green Bay, Rodgers’ first NFC Championship Game at Home in his career.
3) Defense is Good Enough
Through out the course of Aaron Rodgers’ career, the defense has often been the unit to blame in postseason failures. In 2009, it was the Packers defense that let the team down in a 51-45 loss to the Cardinals. In 2012, it was the defense that allowed Colin Kaepernick to run for 181 yards in a 45-31 defeat. In 2016 and 2019, the defense saw the wheels fall off in the NFC Championship Game, resulting in losses of 44-21 and 37-20.
This season, the defense is good enough. Although I believe Sunday will be high-scoring, a credit to both the Buccaneers and Packers offenses’, the Packers have enough on defense to get the job done. I’m not sure how it will play out, whether it be a timely sack, creating a key turnover or making a big stop but this defensive unit has it in them.
The Packers are on a 7 game winning streak (including postseason) that started in Week 12 against the Bears. During this winning streak, the defense is allowing an impressive 18 points per game, creating 1.3 turnovers per game and averaging 3.4 sacks per game.
4) Packers have learned what “not to do”
Abandoning the run in regular season games against Tampa Bay and Carolina were costly. The decision to abandon the run while the game was still competitive against the Buccaneers in Week 6 contributed to a train wreck of a performance on offense in a 38-10 loss. In Week 15 against Carolina, with the Packers having a 21-3 lead at halftime, their decision to stop running the ball nearly led a ferocious Panthers comeback in a 24-16 Packers win.
Aaron Rodgers mentioned this very sentiment earlier this week on the Pat McAfee show. I couldn’t find the video clip but in so many words, he basically said that the Panthers were inviting the Packers to run and they really hadn’t been able to stop the run all game, yet the Packers continued to be pass-heavy in the 2nd half.
In last weekend’s Divisional Playoff game against the Rams, the Packers were consistent in their actions of being balanced and running the football. The Packers ran for 188 yards as a team, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns. If the Packers can get close to duplicating their rushing performance from last week, they will win tomorrow. I believe they will.
5) Second Super Bowl for Rodgers
I know this last reason can be construed as a bit of a reach on my end but nonetheless, I believe in this kind of stuff. Aaron Rodgers is too good of a Quarterback to have only won, let alone played in, one Super Bowl. Tom Brady has been to 9 Super Bowls. The forces of the universe balance the scales tomorrow and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers play in this years Super Bowl on February 7th.
Prediction: Packers 34 Buccaneers 27
Go Pack Go and GET LOUD LAMBEAU!——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.