This NFC Championship matchup has everything a football fan could want out of a game. Two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Two of the three highest-scoring offenses in the NFL. Two top ten defenses in terms of yards per game allowed. Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handed the Green Bay Packers their first loss on the season. A lot has changed since then. In order to avoid defeat at home, here are three things the Packers need to do in order to reach the Super Bowl.
Establish the Run
One of the reasons why the Buccaneers were able to win against the Packers in October was because they stopped the Packers’ run game. The Bucs ended the season with the best rushing defense in the entire league, so establishing the run against them is no small task.
In order to establish the run, the Packers’ running backs must be able to win battles at the edges, not just up the middle. The defensive front of the Bucs is incredibly tough, so outside runs will be imperative to the Packers’ success.
Additionally, the Packers’ use of three running backs may help in this matter. Aaron Jones is a very explosive, quick, cutting back who is very tough to bring down. Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon are bruisers. In the cold weather of Lambeau Field, their style may just help establish that much-needed run game.
Protect the Ball
This seems like a given. However, last week the Buccaneers showed just how badly they need their defense to force turnovers. The three touchdown-scoring drives the Bucs had all came off of turnovers. All their other possessions ended in field goals or punts.
In the loss to Tampa Bay, Aaron Rodgers uncharacteristically tried to force throws to Davante Adams who was not always open. Additionally, he three two interceptions, one of which went for a touchdown. Given Rodgers’ history of taking care of the ball, do not count on that happening again. If the Packers do not get careless, they will win the game.
Hit Tom Brady
Tom Brady may be the most accomplished quarterback of all time, but this year he has shown an inability to deal with pressure from pass rushers. Oftentimes, Brady is seen screaming at teammates and coaches on the sidelines following a sack, or hit, or bad play.
The Packers’ pass rush should look to make Tom Brady very uncomfortable. Rashan Gary, especially, has been on the rise and could make a huge impact on this game. He is coming off of a 1.5 sack performance against the Rams in the Divisional Round.
Forcing Brady to rush throws will also lead to turnovers. If the Packers can get home to Brady, he will attempt throws he should not take. These will likely land in the hands of Darnell Savage or Adrian Amos. That could spell disaster for the Buccaneers and victory for the Packers.