Sunday, December 03, 2017

2017 NFL Week 13: Packers vs. Buccaneers

So, Packers fans, we got a better Brett Hundley at quarterback last week vs. the Steelers. But still not good enough in other areas of the game, particularly on defense -- and, some may say, coaching -- to win the game. The Steelers are 9-2 for a reason, just as the Packers are now 5-6 overall and 1-5 since losing QB Aaron Rodgers at Minnesota.

The good news, looking ahead, is that Rodgers actually -- officially -- practiced yesterday...although he still can't come off injured reserve for the next two weeks...if he's ready. And, more good news, the Packers are still technically alive at 5-6 for a playoff spot. Technically. Win today at home against Tampa Bay and next week at Cleveland -- two winnable games (but wasn't Baltimore???) -- and it's likely the Pack will reactivate Rodgers for that stretch run, if his collarbone passes X-ray examination, of course. If the Pack loses today, that likelihood starts to narrow. But that's looking ahead, as we said. Let's stay focused on today, shall we?

The Packers need backup QB Brett Hundley to play like he did against the Steelers
for the team to have a chance to keep pace in the NFC Wildcard
playoff hunt before Aaron Rodgers returns.
(Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Probably like most fans and pundits, we don't quite know what Packers team will show up: the one that played the Steelers nose-to-nose for 59 minutes and 56 seconds of the game last week, or the one that laid down and scored nothing against a mediocre Baltimore team...both losses. If Hundley actually progressed to the degree we saw against the Steelers, the Packers have a chance for a win. If he plays as he did vs. the Ravens, probably not.

It's not all on Hundley, of course, Aside from LB Blake Martinez and a few others on defense, tackling has generally been abysmal, the pass rush non-existent and the secondary a sieve. Is it the players or the coordinator and scheme (here we go again on that annual conversation, right?)? Whatever the situation, the Packers need to win every game from here on out. Likely? No. But you can't win 'em all before you win the first one. And that's today.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 3.5 points at the time of this writing. With Buccaneers' QB Jameis Winston in his first game today after a 3-game hiatus, there will have to be some rust. Still, he's a dangerous runner and could give the Pack's defense fits if they don't get to him early and often. The Bucs will be missing 2 starters from their offensive line, which should benefit the Packers pass least, theoretically. On defense, the Bucs should give Hundley opportunities in the secondary. And if Packers RB Jamaal Williams can reprise his effort of last week, that will also help open things up for Hundley and the receivers.

This game was once referred to as the "Bay of Pigs' game when it was a twice-per-season division meeting. Neither team was good back in those days, as the name implies. While it's not a return to those times, the game could devolve to poor play if players don't play like the season is the line, which it is for the Packers. Weather will not be a factor today, as it will be a positively balmy December 3 game at Lambeau Field.

After it's all said and done, we believe the Pack will do enough to win.

We're calling it Packers 24 - Buccaneers 20.

Go Pack Go!!!