Steffen: Last week’s loss against the Minnesota Vikings hurt. Honestly, it hurt as much as any loss I can remember. I’d rank it up there with the Super Bowl loss to the Broncos, 2008’s NFC championship game and the 4th-and-26th game against the Eagles in 2004. Still hurts. What made it worse is that the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff seemingly learned nothing from nearly a half season of football or from their previous loss to the Vikings. Again, they were in a position to win the game, but ultimately lost because of blind stubbornness on the part of the coaching staff and this nagging lack of discipline on the part of the players.
It is that same stubbornness and lack of discipline that has plagued this team all season long, preventing them from living up to the preseason hype. And it is that same stubbornness and lack of discipline that will gradually undo this team.
While many in the media are blowing off this game against the lowly Buccaneers, I think it will be a test of Mike McCarthy and his staff. The team is reeling right now and there is growing unrest in the locker room. Can the Packers coaching staff pull it together and get their team to play a flawless game?
They have not improved in any facet of the game and it doesn’t seem like they care. The penalties are getting worse. Aaron Rodgers is starting to feel the effects of being sacked more than 30 times this season – a season that has been notable for most teams’ inability to get to the quarterback.
The Packers will again roll up big numbers on offense, but will sputter in the red zone. Dom Capers will install a “play it safe” defensive gameplan which will give first time starter Josh Freeman plenty of time to throw – when the Packers should actually throw an array of blitzes at the young QB. Emboldened by their hideous throwbacks and St. Louis’ victory last week, Tampa Bay will pull one out of their ass.
This is the upset of the week. This is the game where the wheels fall off.
Tampa Bay 19, Green Bay 17
Brett: Boy, the Pack sure picked a good time to face the NFL’s last winless team. With possible must-wins looming against the Cowboys and 49ers, the Packers should knock the Bucs back to the Stone Age in this one. Say what you will about Green Bay’s lack of consistency on both sides of the ball; this team has shown it has the ability to blow out sub-par competition. Tampa ranks near the bottom of the league in every major offensive and defensive category, making this less of a game and more of a glorified scrimmage.
Expect a one-sided affair guided by the arm of the league’s top-rated passer, Aaron Rodgers. Can’t believe he’s the league’s top-rated passer? Well, keep in mind that doesn’t factor in holding the ball too long or collapsing in the red zone.
Packers 31, Bucs 10