Sunday, December 21, 2014

NFL Week 16: Packers vs. Buccaneers Preview and Prediction

After last week's stumble in Buffalo, some Packers fans are a bit leery of another letdown in Tampa today. Let's just make this clear: the 10-4 Green Bay Packers will not lose to the 2-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not. Going. To. Happen. Period.

Yes, we know: on any given day blah blah blah. Today, however, is not that day.

How do we know? For starters, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has never had two bad games back to back. And, yes, the Buffalo game was a bad one for Rodgers, admittedly. But his history is that he follows up a performance like that with a good one. So, we expect a good one.

Secondly, as this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, "Rodgers is 8-2 for his career against Lovie-coached teams, and in his last six against Frazier, he's 5-1 with 18 touchdowns and one interception." The Lovie being referred to is, of course, formers Bears head coach Lovie Smith, now Tampa's head coach; Frazier is Leslie Frazier, formerly the ViQueens head coach and now the Buc's defensive coordinator. They have lots of experience in Chicago and Minnesota against the Pack...losing more often than not regardless of locale. Expect that trend to continue today, despite what will likely be a very good effort from a team that just doesn't have the talent that fills the Packers' roster.

As we know, the Packers have had trouble against some of the better defenses in the league; in fact, three of their four losses have come against Top 5 defenses. Good news, Packers fans! The Buccaneers' defense ranks 25th.

The Josh McCown-led Bucs offense ranks 30th in the league. They have capable running backs and a very good, big, strong rookie receiver in Mike Evans. So the Packers defense will have to show up, as they did big time in Buffalo (recall that it wasn't the defense that was at fault last week, holding the Bills to just 4 field goals).

With Washington's improbable win over the Eagles last evening, with a Packers win today the team will secure a spot in the playoffs, regardless of what the train-wreck Chicago Bears do or don't do in their game against Detroit today. We would expect the battle in Lambeau next week to be for the NFC North title.

But first, the Packers have to take care of business in Florida. They will. The Packers are favored by 12 points.

We're calling it 38-17 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

So long, Fuzzy
We can't let this week go by without remembering Packers Hall of Famer and Glory Years left guard, Fuzzy Thurston. He passed away recently, and a memorial service was held for him at Lambeau Field on Friday. I had the pleasure of meeting Fuzzy a few times briefly. He always had a smile, a handshake, and a sparkle in his eye. His life wasn't always easy. He had both business ups and downs and health problems over the years, including throat cancer which left him with a lasting rasp from surgical procedures. But none of that diminished his great spirit. You''ll see that spirit on full display in this video of Fuzzy singing. Fellow great, Jerry Kramer, is also in the video, posted by his daughter Alicia. Enjoy this great memory of the one and only Fuzzy Thurston. Thanks, Fuzzy. Rest in Peace.