Hello Wisconsin: Taking Down Tampa First Step to Defeating Status Quo

This past spring I produced High School Musical with my high school theatre group, and I feel like ever since then I cannot escape its cheesy melodies and on-the-nose Disneyfied life lessons.

At one point in the middle of the production (as in the movie), there is a big lunchroom number in which the ensemble sings:

“No no no,

Stick to the stuff you know

If you wanna be cool, follow one simple rule

Don’t mess with the flow, oh no

Stick to the status quo!”

Ultimately the themes and action of the show prove the opposite–defeating the status quo leads to character growth and higher achievement. The jocks become theater stars, skaters become friends with popular kids, who start supporting the academic decathlon team, and on and on.

For the Green Bay Packers, the theme this season is going to be defeating the status quo. No more listless blowouts, no more playoff disappointments, no more “boogeyman” teams that they simply can’t get past. If they’re going to finally live up to preseason expectations and internal hype, if they’re finally going to have their Troy Bolton “Breaking Free” moment, then they’re going to need to defeat the status quo. 

That starts this weekend in Tampa.

When you talk about boogeyman teams for the Matt LaFleur Packers, the Buccaneers are one of the two or three that come to mind. The Packers got absolutely smacked by the Bucs in the regular season of 2020, then had one of their all-time most crushing playoff defeats by the same team in the playoffs that year as the Bucs cruised to a championship. 

The two teams have not played since that NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field, and there is certain to be a lot of hoopla surrounding the game this weekend.

The Packers already failed their first early test to prove this year would be “different” when they came out flat in week one against the Minnesota Vikings. But this test might be even more telling. How will the team perform against a club that has undeniably had its number in the not-too-distant past? How will Aaron Rodgers perform in a stadium that has seen some of his worst games as a professional footballer?

This is a major test in the Packers’ season-long quest to defeat the status quo. Failure here would not just drop the Packers to 1-2, but would offer plenty of legitimate doubt as to the team’s legitimacy as a title contender.

The stakes in this one are big. The Packers have already notched a divisional and conference loss, both of which could prove huge in tiebreakers. The Bucs figure to contend in the NFC, so the Packers must earn this early tiebreaker over them.

Time for this team to start proving it’s different than what we’ve seen the last couple years.

Wisconsin Beer of the Week

Every now and then you gotta bust out a bottle of a really great high-alcohol stout that you’ve had sitting in the cellar for a bit. One recent example is the Butter Pecan Maple Stout from Central Waters Brewing Company.

This baby boasts a whopping 4.54 (out of 5) average on Untappd with more than 3,000 check-ins. At 10.5 percent ABV it certainly packs a punch, though not necessarily quite to the same extent as some of the brewery’s other barrel-aged stouts (which it specializes in). 

This one is balanced by a smooth, luscious butter pecan flavor with some maple on the finish. Dessert in a glass, but not overpowering in its sweetness like some pastry stouts can become. 

Central Waters is outstanding at creating really delicious imperial stouts (both with and without adjuncts), and if you ever have the chance to go on the tour at its Amherst facility, do it. The barrel aging warehouse is immensely impressive. When I was there I compared it to that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark where they’re taking the ark of the covenant into that massive warehouse filled with boxes of military secrets. Basically, it’s like that, but with barrels upon barrels of barrel-aging beer.

I do not believe this one is currently available for purchase, but you can always find some delicious Central Waters stouts at your local liquor store. One of Wisconsin’s best breweries!

Featuring RBs gets you offense. Imagine that!

In week one, for whatever reason, the Packers declined to make their running backs a significant part of the game plan. Aaron Jones in particular had just eight touches–inexcusable for your offense’s best skill position player, and a guy being paid a whole lot of money to be there.

This week, the offense flowed through Jones and his counterpart, AJ Dillon, and, surprise surprise, the Packers played significantly better on offense. 

Aaron Jones was unstoppable. He picked up yardage in large chunks both on the ground and through the air. There was a clear, concerted effort to get the ball to Jones early and often, and it paid off in a big way. There was much less pressure on Aaron Rodgers to make something happen, and as a result he ended up playing significantly better as well. When the Packers finally made the choice to stretch the field on a deep pass, Sammy Watkins was wide open, blowing past Eddie Jackson for the biggest gain of the night.

There is no reason for Aaron Jones not to be the featured player on the Packers’ offense every single week. With Davante Adams gone, he is far and away the team’s best offensive weapon. The game plan must revolve around him. 

We’ve seen over and over again the last few years how much better the Packers play when they focus on accomplishing that. Let this serve as just the latest reminder.

Elgton Jenkins’ return a big boost

Elgton Jenkins finally returned to the football field on Sunday, and boy was it ever good to see him in the green and gold again.

Jenkins had some rust to shake off initially. But as the game went on, he steadily improved to the point where he was making a clear difference on the right side of the line, especially in pass protection.

Hopefully David Bakhtiari, whenever he returns, will be able to shake the rust off even half as quickly. 

Bakhtiari did not practice on Wednesday, which is, obviously, once again a concerning sign for his availability on Sunday. When will he be back? Who knows. Certainly not Matt LaFleur, who said he had “no idea” if Bakhtiari would be available to play Sunday in Tampa.

But at this point, with Yosh Nijman playing pretty darn well in relief, there’s no reason to rush Bakhtiari back if he’s not ready. The return of Jenkins gives the Packers quite a bit more breathing room on the line. Nijman certainly is not Bakhtiari, but he’s a better option at left tackle than what many other teams in the NFL have available, so things could absolutely be much worse.

For now, the Packers have Jenkins back, and boy did they ever need him.

Packers lean on veterans in the passing game

There was a very clear pattern with how the Packers deployed their wide receivers on Sunday night: the veterans ran most out of the vertical stuff, the rookies stayed close to the line of scrimmage.

Christian Watson ran a lot of motion and had a couple tap passes designed for him to help take advantage of his speed. Romeo Doubs also was used in the flat and on a bubble screen. 

But when it came to more vertical routes, Aaron Rodgers looked toward Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb.

Clearly Rodgers trusts those three the most so far, but at the same time, the Packers clearly like Watson and Doubs enough where they’re trying to use them and get them confidence-building plays. There was at least one play on which Watson ran a deep route and burned the man in coverage, but the ball was already out or Rodgers was looking elsewhere in his progression.

I have a feeling that sooner than later we’re going to see Christian Watson break his first big play. He’s just so explosive and athletic; he’s getting open, and it’s only a matter of time before he can capitalize.

But for now, expect a lot of what we saw on Sunday night: Rodgers going to Lazard and Cobb in the clutch, and making Watkins his primary target on the broadest variety of throws. 

So far, Robert Tonyan and the tight ends have been an afterthought in the offense, so it will see how that evolves in the coming weeks.

Around the NFC North

Once again we’ll take a quick look around the NFC North at what the Packers’ rivals are doing.

  • The CHICAGO BEARS have problems. One, their quarterback who was proclaimed to be the next big star of the division is, well, bad. He’s got time to figure it out, but the fact that he’s a Chicago Bear pretty significantly works against him. Two, the only person they have on offense to help Fields is David Montgomery. They have no receivers and no offensive line, and their offensive coordinator is in his first year in the role. Three, their defense is nowhere near capable of carrying them, and Eddie Jackson in particular is cooked. They got their weird win in the downpour in week one, but now things are looking very bad for the Bears.
  • The DETROIT LIONS might actually be a problem. They fared pretty well against a good Eagles squad in week one, then came out and took care of business in impressive fashion against the Commanders. This team seems to have a lot of belief and faith in Dan Campbell, and they’re fighting hard every week, despite the significant talent deficit they’ll face against many teams. Amon Ra St. Brown is the real deal, and it’ll be fascinating to see what he can accomplish when Jameson Williams becomes available.
  • The MINNESOTA VIKINGS had a pretty massive Super Bowl hangover against the Eagles on Monday Night, and Kirk Cousins proved once again that if you keep him out past his 7 PM curfew he’s going to spew garbage all over the field. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts absolutely demolished the Vikings’ aging defense with both his arms and his legs. It really felt like the Vikings gave everything they had in the Packers game and just arrived to Philadelphia completely out of steam. It’ll be interesting to see which version of the Vikings is closer to reality moving forward.

Homecoming football

I haven’t been to a high school football game since I was in high school, and truly have not had any real desire to go. But now as a teacher I have students constantly asking me to come to their games and performances, and so I agreed that I’d go to the Homecoming football game next week. 

Even now, many years after my own high school experience, there’s always something special and exciting about the homecoming season. The spirit days, the assemblies, the pep rallies, the bonfires, the parade, the football game, the dance, all in the crisp early days of fall and the smell of the leaves on the air; it all brings back fond memories. 

What’s funny is I also have the opportunity to go to my college’s homecoming football game this fall, when Wisconsin takes on Purdue. I haven’t been to a Badger football game in 10 years, so it’s going to really be a true homecoming for me. There’s nothing like a fall Saturday in Madison, the best college town in America. 

Anyway, I’ll certainly be enjoying a bit of nostalgia on both occasions. For those of you who have kids experiencing it all themselves, I hope you are all able to enjoy it yourselves!

Final look: Packers at Bucs and Week Three Picks

Call me a fool, but it feels like this is finally the time for the Packers to get the W against Tampa.

Mike Evans is suspended. The Bucs’ o-line is in shambles. There’s no Antonio Brown. Chris Godwin and Julio Jones are questionable. Tom Brady looks like he doesn’t want to be there. 

The Bucs’ defense is off to a great start so far in 2022, but the offense has been bad. This one could well be a low-scoring affair, and after two games the Packers’ offense has looked better, even considering that week one shellacking in Minnesota.

So yes, the Packers defeat the status quo in week three as part of their season-long goal to do the same on a much larger scale.

Yet another rough week for me picks wise in week two. It’s been a bit of a wild start to the year, as tends to be the case, but once we get a few weeks as things start to get a bit more predictable. 

Here are my picks for week three. I’m picking a whole lot of away teams:

STEELERS over Browns

BILLS over Dolphins

BENGALS over Jets

RAIDERS over Titans

SAINTS over Panthers

RAVENS over Patriots

VIKINGS over Lions

EAGLES over Commanders

CHIEFS over Colts

TEXANS over Bears

CHARGERS over Jaguars

RAMS over Cardinals

PACKERS over Bucs

SEAHAWKS over Falcons

49ERS over Broncos

COWBOYS over Giants
 

Last week: 8-8

Season:16-16

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (43)

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croatpackfan's picture

September 22, 2022 at 06:30 am

STEELERS over Browns - Mitch Trubitsky over Brisset? Browns - 1:0 me vs Tim!

BILLS over Dolphins - so far Dolphins are nice surprise

BENGALS over Jets - sure

RAIDERS over Titans - sure

SAINTS over Panthers - sure, Saints D is much better than Mayfield

RAVENS over Patriots - hmmmmm game

VIKINGS over Lions - not sure Captain Kirk will be comfortable behind his OL

EAGLES over Commanders - sure

CHIEFS over Colts - sure, or grand lull

TEXANS over Bears - not sure, but agree

CHARGERS over Jaguars - no doubt?

RAMS over Cardinals - will see

PACKERS over Bucs - hope so

SEAHAWKS over Falcons - not sure

49ERS over Broncos - very tricky

COWBOYS over Giants - no way

Thanks for the article professor

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NickPerry's picture

September 22, 2022 at 06:51 am

Getting Jenkins and Lazard back last week did wonders for the running game. This week I'd imagine both Jenkins and Lazard will be a little bit healthier, a bit less rusty, and a bit better at their assignments. That will be needed against the Bucs. IF they can get Vita Vea blocked, both Lazard and Watson will be big in the running game blocking the ILBs, David and White. Just STICK with Dillon and Jones this week...No matter what!

This sucks but I'm really wondering if David Bakhtiari ever plays football again. I REALLY, really hope I'm wrong but damn, it just doesn't look good. Thank God for Yosh...He's been solid which is all you can ask for as a backup LT.

"So yes, the Packers defeat the status quo in week three as part of their season-long goal to do the same on a much larger scale."

Absolutely Tim...I can't agree more. I call them the Packers Bug-a-boo teams. Boogyman, Bug-a-boo, whatever you want to call it the Packers seem to have one. In the mid-90s it was Dallas. Just after winning SB45, it was SF, and then the Seahawks, and now with Brady in Tampa it's the Bucs. I DON'T care if every friggen Bucs WR is injured or suspended.

IF the Packers win because of it I'll take it. If there was ever a time when we felt the "Football Gods" were smiling down on the Green Bay Packers it may be this week. Weakened WR group and a trashed O-Line (Deal with it, the Packers have) now may just be the time the Packers deal this Bug-a-boo team.

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dobber's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:30 am

"Getting Jenkins and Lazard back last week did wonders for the running game. "

Consistently giving one of your best playmakers the ball did wonders for the run game, because I'll point out that Dillon didn't do much. Jenkins and Lazard weren't a panacaea broadly for the run game, Jones just went off.

"This sucks but I'm really wondering if David Bakhtiari ever plays football again."

Whatever the case, I don't see him being with the Packers in 2023. You can only play ball with the guys you have available. Make it work.

"I DON'T care if every friggen Bucs WR is injured or suspended. IF the Packers win because of it I'll take it. "

All you can do is play the team in front of you and give it your best shot. Unless the Packers completely blow TB out of the water on Sunday, the press next week will not likely be positive--whether they lose (where it's obviously going to be negative) or win (in which case it will be because TB was decimated by suspensions, injuries, and angry wives). The standings only care about the final result. Just win, baby.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 22, 2022 at 12:03 pm

"This sucks but I'm really wondering if David Bakhtiari ever plays football again."

Whatever the case, I don't see him being with the Packers in 2023. You can only play ball with the guys you have available. Make it work.

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I wonder how good he'll be after all this time off, and the surgeries, and the age. Is he really going to be a big upgrade over Nijman?

I don't know about next year either, but if we can bring back a line of Nijman, Runyan, Myers, Newman and Jenkins.....that's an inexpensive group, except for Jenkins. Add in bargains like Tom and Rhyan and Walker and Mt. Caleb and it's going to be a low cost unit for us.....at least until we factor in Bakhtiari's dead money.

Bakhtiari is going to have like $23 million in dead money, and it would only cost $6 million in salary to have him on the roster next year. If he's actually healthy enough to play, $6 million is not that much.

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Guam's picture

September 22, 2022 at 08:24 am

Sadly I think many of us are starting to wonder if Bakhtiari will ever play football again. His knee just doesn't seem to be recovering after three surgeries and nearly two years out of football. Very unfortunate.

Even if he does return this year, will he be better than Nijman? Nijman is playing at a very high level according to PFF and certainly also passes the eye test, at least for me. This isn't Jenkins replacing Newman at RT, Bahk will need to be at 100% to outplay Nijman.

Given Bakh's pricey contract, he will need to return as the starter and soon or the Packers will have no choice but to move on from him for the 2023 season. You can' t have that much cap money tied up in a player than isn't playing.

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Coldworld's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:41 am

Even if he is back and elite, you have to think about ongoing durability at that age and the respective difference in talent in light of the cost. His contract was heavily front loaded. If he’s released post June 1, it’s a huge saving i think. It’s still a saving before that. The only y difference I see resulting fro. Him playing really well, is that we might be able to trade him if he does. If not, I think it’s release or retirement. Him being a Packer this time next year seems very unlikely.

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dobber's picture

September 22, 2022 at 11:44 am

The best thing for the Packers in 2022 and beyond is for Bakh to come back and play at a high level. It opens so many doors as to how they proceed with roster management in the future.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:32 pm

"Even if he does return this year, will he be better than Nijman?"

Probably what Washington thought when they traded Williams to the 49ers. Counting out greatness can bite you on the ass.

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Coldworld's picture

September 23, 2022 at 09:18 am

Greatness is not guaranteed to survive after really bad injuries. It maybe a reduction of strength or bend or other attribute that just reduces performance, or it may be simply an inability to be on the field consistently.

It can go both ways. Bakh plays a position where the knee is particularly critical and stressed in a big guy but it’s also one where players can be elite through their mid 30s. Who knows? I think though that the roster and cap dynamics here militate for the cost and risk calculation leading to him not being here next year. Whether he’s replaced by Nijman or Jenkins next season, we have good options. The drop off may be non existent at that point but it’s not looking to be huge anyway.

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:27 am

Bad. That’s how I think Aaron Rodgers will play on Sunday. He’s never done well in Florida. It won’t matter, though, because the Buccaneers only have five fully healthy starters on offense (Brady, their OGs, their RT, and Brate). Simply put, I think the Bucs are too injured.
The Packers front 7, especially Smith, Gary, and Clark, should all have a field day against the Bucs’ crippled Oline (they’re starting a 3rd string LT). Their secondary should do well covering the Bucs’ backup receivers (just contain Scotty Miller this time). For the run D, the stats of last week don’t tell the whole story. The Packers actually did a great job of containing the run except for 2 ABSURD drives when they gave up an average of about 15+ yards per carry. Fournette is not fully healthy, so if he plays, he won’t be in top form. That should also help the Packers
The offense should be powered by Jones and Dillon, and the Bucs are giving up 5+ yards per carry. They’re also missing Akiem Hicks, too, and Carlton Davis is questionable.
When I was predicting the Packers’ record, this was the one sure-fire loss I had for the Packers, but with all the injuries the Bucs are dealing with, I honestly think that, even if Rodgers plays terribly, the Packers can win it. They’ll have to maintain the good play-calling from last week and lean on the run game and defense (and contain Scotty Miller!) but I think they can do it I predict a Packers win, 7-3.

Edit: Bold prediction for the game: Both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady throw an interception.

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mrtundra's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:41 am

Picking our division games: Detroit can beat the vikings in Mpls. I think they will. I want the Lions to beat Minnesota just so the vikings HC can reflect on whether or not he should have taken the job, there.Texans should beat the Bears, but this one will be close. Packers need to "Buc" up and pull together as a team to beat the Bucs. The Bucs Defense will be the best one the Packers have faced, so far, and they will need to click on all cylinders to beat them in Tampa, but they can do it. Look for a low scoring game. The 17-14 type of low scoring game. Our run game will be stuffed early on, but they must keep running the ball, which will pay dividends, late in the game. Our Defense must come to play. Especially our run defense.GO PACK, GO!!!

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:53 am

I think even lower scoring — like 7-3 type of low scoring game. Defense will come and play and do well, mainly because the Bucs are so beat up, espectially on the o-line. The run D stats don’t tell the whole story. It was actually pretty good last week except for 2 drives when they gave up an average of like 15+ yards per carry.

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Coldworld's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:44 am

If Cook runs this week it could upset that apple cart. The Vikings have the offensive weapons if Cousins has time. It seems the Vikings copied LaFleur from week one in terms of how to undermine their strengths and magnify your weaknesses.

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dobber's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:44 am

Around the NFC North--

The Bears are a bad football team, and a long ways from not being a bad football team. They're the game every other bad team will be circling on their schedule this season as a 'barometer' game.

First off: the Lions got it handed to them by Philly and added two fourth quarter TDs to make it look good. Give them credit for sticking that one out, but Philly closed up shop a little early in that game. Washington is not a good team, and the Lions let them back into that game. The Lions are better than we're used to seeing--especially in the trenches-- but they struggle to stop the run and now their OL is beat up. They're down two very capable starters (Vitai and Ragnow) from their best unit. The OL makes them go. They get beat in MN this weekend, and I suspect it will be ugly.

MIN was MIN. They're better in their building than anywhere else. They need to play 8 games outside that building. Cousins had a Cousins game last week. That said, this week's game against the Lions looks like a big-game week for Dalvin Cook, and I think the MIN front 7 goes off on the Lions beat up OL. Jared Goff will show why he's just keeping the QB seat warm for the next high QB pick in DET.

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:57 am

I think that the Bears will be able to be reasonable competitive — next year. Likely with a high draft pick and with nearly 100m of cap space next year, they will be able to make some improvements.

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Coldworld's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:49 am

The bears are in tear down mode. Sloughing off players and contracts. They are much like the lions two years ago: playing to get years of mismanagement off the cap and roster. That was obviously essential for both teams. The next really big question is when they emerge, how well will they handle the rebuild? I’ve not seen the Lions this year, and it’s still too early in the year to really judge how well they are doing. The Bears are bad and know it. They needed to be to have any hope of recovery without draft picks as well. It looks like a last ditch attempt to retool Fields while that plays out.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 23, 2022 at 08:38 am

I was watching some of Lions games. They are average team. If you let them play they might be dangerous, but if you put the "pedal to the metal" they do not have chances vs above average team. It will be dangerous to underestimate them and it will be necessary to pressure their "Soul stiller".

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Coldworld's picture

September 23, 2022 at 09:28 am

The Lions have a few pieces I think could be the beginnings of a core, but I agree. They look like the kind of team that others take a few games to figure out and then get humbled. The Vikings implosion was self inflicted, which makes that game really hard to draw much from, though the Lions tried quite hard to give the Vikings chances to get it together, which suggests problems ahead. It’s too early to really judge any team at this point. Not enough sample size and teams coming out if the gate unevenly.

If we had persisted with the long ball against the Vikings, to Doubs, Watson, Watkins and run consistently, we would have taken on their weak secondary and prevented the D that gave us fits. As a result we never tested them as teams should. Does that make them good and us bad as a team? On the day we stunk thanks to LaFleur, but no, I don’t think it says too much in terms of actual potential over a season.

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:51 am

Here are my week 3 predictions:

Overall record: 17-14-1 (2-0 in predicting Packers [and Vikings] games, 6-2 in the NFC North)

Browns over Steelers, 23-20. 2 words, Nick Chubb
Bills over Dolphins, 34-28
Bengals over Jets, 24-22
Titans over Raiders, 24-20. The Titans are the more complete team. Their front 7 should still dominate the Raiders o line even without Landry.
Saints over Panthers, 26-16
Ravens over Patriots 28-23
Vikings over Lions, 31-23
Eagles over Commanders, 14-26. Yes, the Eagles are the real deal
Colts over Chiefs, 28-24. My upset of the week. It’s the Colts’ home opener, and I think Reich will finally hand the keys to Jonathan Taylor instead of Matt Ryan. Chiefs LB Willie Gay was suspended, too. I think the Colts’ defense also has a bounce-back game.
Texans over Bears, 16-13
Charges over Jags, 24-17
Rams over Cardinals, 27-20
Packers over Bucs, 7-3
Seahawks over Falcons, 31-27
Broncos over 49ers, 24-21. Wilson has a big game and Hackett takes a step closer to figuring it out.
Giants over Cowboys, 14-16. Kayvon Thibodeaux gets 1+ sacks in his NFL debut.

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murf7777's picture

September 22, 2022 at 07:55 am

“Tom Brady looks like he doesn’t want to be there.” I find that hard to believe as he is one of the most competitive person in all of sports. He looks frustrated. He wants another ring and that’s it. He can than go home to Gisselle.

Stop Fournette and you stop the Bucs offense. Even with their receivers in game one, their offense didn’t look sharp against Dallas. The defense is another story, the Bucs might have the best D in the NFC. This sure is looking like a defensive battle and Vegas over/under line has gone from 47 to 41.

This is a big game for a couple of reasons. Playoff seeding is one of them and the other is get the monkey off Rodgers back about playing bad in Florida and Tampa. Brady showed a lot of frustration during the game last week and if we can INTs and SACKs, he will be even more so come Sunday.

Going 1-2 isn’t the biggest concern because when I looked at the schedule I felt that was a likely scenario. Having Rodgers veteran leadership in not getting to down about early season record is important in that. He will help keep the team focused on the next game up.

It goes without saying, if Packers take care of the ball and run successfully they should win this game.

Kick some Bucs ass…..please!

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 22, 2022 at 08:04 am

Back a few months ago, this was the one sure-fire loss I had for the Packers. However, the Bucs are so injured that I actually think the Packers have the advantage. The Bucs are very beat up on the o-line (they’re starting a 3rd string LT) and at WR (Evans is suspended, Godwin will be out for a few weeks, Julio and Russel Gage are questionable). Fournette is also not fully healthy, so that should make stopping him easier. I think the defense will carry the day because I do not expect A-Rod to play well in Florida in September, and the Bucs are very beat up on offense. The Packers will score by leaning on the run game, and Aiken Hicks is out too, which should help. Carlton Davis is also questionable. That being said. I wouldn’t be super disappointed if the Packers don’t win, as, I agree, 1-2 isn’t the biggest concern. However, I think they have a very good shot to win.

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beerandbrats's picture

September 22, 2022 at 08:17 am

It's hot in southern Florida and I believe that the summer heat is a great neutralizer, just like the winter cold in Wisconsin. But Tampa has a banged up OL and broken receivers. Add in the Akiem Hicks injury on defense and the Packers should be able to hang with the Bucs in the Florida heat. GPG!

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 22, 2022 at 08:20 am

Featuring RBs gets you offense. Imagine that! -
This should be the game plan each and every week. That being said, they will have to find ways to be productive when the running game isn't working. And they have to still find ways to get the RB's the ball when the running game isn't working.

Elgton Jenkins’ return a big boost -
You could definitely see the rust early in the game. But he wore that off pretty quickly. Each game he should get more confident and better.
Bakhtiari when he comes back I expect rust as well. It may take him a bit longer since he really hasn't played in 2 years. But if both of these guys can be at the top of their games towards the playoffs that is what we need. Yosh has been playing really good. Most teams would love to have Yosh as their starting OT.

Packers lean on veterans in the passing game -
I noticed a pattern in the game. A lot of run plays they had Doubs and Watson in. A lot of passing plays they had Watkins, Cobb, and Lazard in. Maybe a lot of the plays called were passing plays and Rodgers checked them to runs. BUt either way its a pattern they will have to monitor. Teams will figure that out really quick.

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T7Steve's picture

September 22, 2022 at 10:34 am

I hope they don't start being predictable. Last year towards the end and the playoff game, it was easy to guess what play they were going to run by their personnel and formation. I think I could guess at better than a 75% rate. Figure a pro D is smarter than I (setting myself up for insults here). I haven't been able to this year, even just run or pass is a guess at this stage.

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Starrbrite's picture

September 22, 2022 at 08:34 am

IMO, winning this game is huge litmus test for our team moving forward.
The Packers have no excuses to lose this game, although playing in the Florida heat is a tough obstacle and far more difficult than playing in severe cold.
In addition, there are an enormous host of packer fans in Florida and I predict there will be more packer fans in the stadium than Bucs—that could help.
Beating the Bears and Lions are one thing, but whipping a mortal enemy and constant thorn in our side on their turf is quite another—do it!!
Tim, I’ll be in Green Bay to watch the Packers/Cowboys, and I’ll be looking for that beer of the week—it looks excellent.

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Razer's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:02 am

As a fan, I want the Packers to capitalize on the current state of the Tampa team. As a realist, the Bucs defense will bottle up the run and Rodgers will try to do what he always does against Tampa 2. Rodgers is like the scorpion who can't help being a scorpion. Todd Bowles has Rodgers figured out.

If our team was better in the trenches, we could win this game handily. On defense, we are not stout enough against the run and our O-line is average at best so the run game will be ignored when the going gets tough. We are a finesse team playing against a hardnosed defense. Let's hope their injuries handicap them enough.

Sorry - still smarting from the Vikings thrashing.

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Spock's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:45 am

"Rodgers is like the scorpion who can't help being a scorpion." This is my fear for this game. The Packers SHOULD lean on their RBs (and maybe will - in passing). Rodgers always wants to 'prove' he's a better QB then Brady when he's against him by playing "hero ball" with his passing arm. Hopefully, MLF can get him to lean on the run, but I have my doubts. Hopefully, I'm wrong and last week's game gave QB1 some confidence to actually run with the run. GPG!

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Coldworld's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:57 am

If they don’t lean on the run to blunt that D and they rely on Lazard, Watkins and Cobb, then I expect our O to be putrid, our time if possession to suck and our D to be exhausted by half time. Goodness knows we’ve tried slow WRS, no run commitment and a condensed field before against Bowles and been hammered. If we try that again then the coach should stay in Florida.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 22, 2022 at 09:21 am

The Bucs enjoyed very good fortune with regards to injuries during Brady's first 2 years at their helm. The law of averages have finally come around and now they have the most injuries. So I have absolutely no sympathy for them. In the NFCCG game 2 years back, would the Bucs have defeated the Packers if Bakh was not injured? I remember Rodgers running for his life... (I forget who else was injured for the Packers at that time)

So this Sunday let us see Brady run for his life! Hope the Packers DL and LBs are in his face. I was watching replays of the Bucs game the last 2 weeks, and Brady was not very mobile (maybe because he did not have to be?).

The Bucs defense is mostly healthy, so the Packers offense still has that to contend with, but maybe our defense evens out the field against the Bucs depleted offense. I expect the Packers offense to struggle against their defense, but as long as the ST does not give away points, I expect the Packers to narrowly win.

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Starrbrite's picture

September 22, 2022 at 03:30 pm

Good post PK.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see our defense rise to the occasion and dump the Golden Calf on his tech equipment throwing a$$.

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T7Steve's picture

September 22, 2022 at 10:43 am

A Jones has some ghosts too. I remember my heart breaking as the Bucks punched the ball out of his hands. I think he'll remember too and will make someone pay for trying to punch instead of lock up the tackle.

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jont's picture

September 22, 2022 at 10:45 am

Has Aaron Rodgers ever had two bad games in a row? I guess it's probable, but I don't remember it happening. He said he was off last week, and I expect he'll do much better this week. The problem is the limited supporting cast, and the injury report now shows Lazard and Watson as 'limited'.

Over there, Brady has always been known for an unreal focus on winning. This must be terribly difficult to achieve week after week, but this year it seems like he is fighting to reach his usual levels of concentration and commitment. And he doesn't have any receivers either.

I expect low passing numbers from both QBs. I also expect to see brilliant play by two of the best QBs ever to play the game. Adjustments, reads, decision making. It won't excite most viewers; it'll be more of chess match.

Prediction: the defenses will focus on stopping the run, and a big play by one of these defenses will turn the tide in the 3rd quarter to give one team a two score lead which will seem huge and make for a tense 4th quarter.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 22, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Has Aaron Rodgers ever had two bad games in a row?

The playoff loss last year and the opener this year is the closest I could come to that.

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Booner's picture

September 22, 2022 at 11:11 am

Packers OL needs to protect Rodgers on the left side. They will be attacking the weakest link! Have two back sets and have Dillion chip block. Run the damn ball!

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dobber's picture

September 22, 2022 at 11:53 am

If past history is any indicator, TB will use their ILB and S to overload the inside gaps. Vea might not be a high-sack pass rusher (for an NT, he already has 1.5 in 2 games), but he demands attention or he'll walk most OL back into the pocket. That opens up those interior gaps for David or others to push the QB off his spot.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 23, 2022 at 01:27 pm

I agree with that. These guys like Vea don't block themselves.

The best way to protect our QB this weekend is to do what we're good at.

1) Don't turn it over
2) Give it to Dillon/Jones, via pass or run, 50% of the time or more.
3) Get guys blocked. That's why these guys like Lewis and Lazard thrive in this offense, because they get their guy blocked.
4) Get the ball out of Rodgers hands quickly. Those quick hitches and bubble screens, jet sweeps, shovel pass stuff....perfect.

IMO, this is one of our most difficult games of the season. It's a road game against a good opponent, just like Buffalo, Miami, and even Minnesota in the opener. Except Tampa is also a probable conference playoff team, so I'd rank this as a more important game than the Buffalo and Miami games.

Add in our history in Florida.......I don't know. I remember when I moved from Wisconsin to Texas the heat really beat me down at first, although now I hardly feel it. Maybe that has something to do with it, I don't know. But we have had some weak efforts in the Sunshine State.

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Coldworld's picture

September 23, 2022 at 09:32 am

In what way has our left side been our weakest link?

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ImaPayne's picture

September 22, 2022 at 11:51 am

This is not the same Tampa team we played way back when. They looked god awful - including goat face against NO. If it wasnt for Jamais being Jamies and tossing three picks, one a pick six, they wouldnt have won that game.
I was big on Brady over the years being an M fan too, but his coming back was a bad idea. He doesnt seem to have the spark, more like he was bored sitting at home and needed a hobby. Now I'm down on the guy.
Packers have a chance here at Tampa as long as the goat doesnt eat our horrid zone package alive.

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HarryHodag's picture

September 22, 2022 at 02:22 pm

...but the Bucs still have Brady and that's like the Packers have Rodgers. They will be competitive as long as they are around.
Don't underestimate the impact of the heat/humidity this Sunday. If the game is close going into the 4th quarter, advantage Bucs. You can always put more clothes on in the cold, but you can't do the opposite in the heat. We forget the Packers blow out loss to the Saints last year was in Jacksonville where it was hotter than a pistol.

Beating up the Bears is one thing, but Tampa is well-coached with a HOF QB. Rodgers must be spot on for this to remain competitive. It will turn into a passing game because Tampa knows full well the Packers will be trying to run the ball. Time for the rookie receivers to put on their big boy pants.

Update: the Packers top four receivers were all missing from practice on Thursday and might not play Sunday.

I'm leaning toward the Bucs.

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Starrbrite's picture

September 22, 2022 at 03:34 pm

Exactly what I said and believe.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 22, 2022 at 05:58 pm

If not for the update I would have given us an even chance. Fulgrim will probably not win the game for us. And even Crosby is ill.

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Coldworld's picture

September 23, 2022 at 09:43 am

Fulgham will block well. He’s a back up X, which suggests that they think Watkins is a genuine doubt. Of the others, Lazard would be the biggest loss. The problem is will Rodgers throw to Doubs, Toure, Fulgham. If he doesn’t then it’s probably not going to be a contest. If he does, will LaFleur put them in positions to take advantage of their quickness and speed? If we try to play dink and dunk with the rookies I think it’s not going to be pretty.

Hopefully some will be back, though Watkins history with hamstring issues should be a concern. This may just be the game where we give a rookie a chance out of necessity. If we can’t stretch that D it’s not going to be pretty absent the RBs taking over.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 23, 2022 at 01:17 pm

"There was a very clear pattern with how the Packers deployed their wide receivers on Sunday night: the veterans ran most out of the vertical stuff, the rookies stayed close to the line of scrimmage."

Veterans who have done it before are more reliable than rookies who haven't, but you still have to feed the rookies so that they'll grow. These bubble screens and short routes are a perfect way to develop their confidence. The next time Watson gets behind everybody....and there will be a next time......we should get a better result.

I've never expected Cobb to be active for most of the season, but I think he's useful now. Lazard makes a big difference when we're running the ball, we've all seen that now. I could easily see Lazard-Watson-Doubs as the core of a unit that you could win games with.

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