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How to Watch Packers Vs. Buccaneers: Kickoff time, TV channel, live stream, important NFC Championship matchups

Welcome to the Conference Championship on Sunday! Our first matchup is one with two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers hosting Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are, of course, other stars all over the field, from Davante Adams and Aaron Jones to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and from Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith to Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. There are even incredibly exciting matchups along the offensive and defensive fronts, as this game also includes some of the best linemen in the league.

This should be a fascinating game, so let̵

7;s break things down.

This is how you look

Date: Sunday 24 January | Time: 15:05 ET
Location: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
TV: Fox | Power: fuboTV (Try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports app

When the Buccaneers have the ball

Let’s cut a few sections from last week’s Rams-Packers preview, which are just as relevant here:

Green Bay checked in a pretty solid 18th in rush defense DVOA this season, but one more regarding the 23rd in Adjusted Line Yards, indicating that the Packers more often than not lost the game in the trenches …

In their three losses this season, the Packers handed out 158, 173 and 140 rushing yards to opponents averaging 4.5, 5.1 and 3.8 yards per carry. Attempt. The Colts arranged a comeback from the second half by running into field goals and tightening up on defense. Tampa’s early lead came via a pick-six, and another interception returned to the 2-yard line, so it was only Minnesota that really came out and just ran the ball straight down Green Bay’s neck from the jump. But even the Vikings did not take the lead for good until the third quarter and did not put things away until Dalvin Cook took a 50-yard pass to the house.

Can the Bucs jump out to an early lead again this time if they simply run Leonard Fournette and / or Aaron Jones down the Packers neck? The Rams tried to do that with Cam Akers, but they fell behind because their defense allowed two touchdowns and a field goal on Green Bay’s first three drives of the game. They were able to keep Akers involved the rest of the way, but when you go down with two goals, your entire offensive rhythm is thrown out of the whack.

The Bucs tried to run early and often against the Saints last week and it didn’t really work for them. Only when they switched to a more pass-centered attack did they start hanging skewed numbers on the scoreboard – but even that required a lot of help from the defense and set them up with short squares. Tom Brady did not exactly rip things up and threw only 199 yards on 33 attempts.

But the Green Bay passport defense is nowhere near as solid as the Saints. The Packers have Jaire Alexander to potentially overshadow Mike Evans and the combination of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark up front, but there are more places to take advantage of Green Bay’s coverage than there are New Orleans’. If Alexander overshadows Evans, it puts Kevin King on Antonio Brown on the opposite side and Chandon Sullivan on Chris Godwin in the castle. They look like the most likely matchups. Godwin at Sullivan would be a strong advantage for the Buccaneers, as would Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate against any of the linebackers that the Bucs can get them matched on. (It is less a clear advantage if the packages use their security in the coverage.)

Taking advantage of any of these benefits, however, requires winning the battle along the line. Tampa has one of the best pass-protective offensive lines in the NFL this season, which pretty much keeps the rush out of Brady’s face and allows him to throw from a clean pocket. If they give him time against this secondary Packers, he will find openings. But if Smiths and / or Gary start forcing Brady out of his seat and he has to buy time or reset himself after maneuvering in his pocket, this is where the Packers might have the advantage. Tampa can keep the pass rushing off balance with play-action passing, but the Packers would probably be just fine when the Bucs decided to run instead of throwing. They have been beaten by Fournette and Jones rather than by Brady, one would think.

When the packs have the ball

The Buccaneers finished this season, just like last season, with one of the NFL’s best defenses. Tampa ranked sixth in allowed yards, eighth in points allowed and fifth in defensive efficiency per Football Outsiders’ DVOA. But like last year, the Bucs’ defensive success was built on their ability to stop the race: they have ranked first in the running defense DVOA in each of the last two seasons. For that reason, it seems unlikely that this will be a game controlled by Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon – even though Alvin Kamara came loose a few times on the ground last week.

Due to this focus on the run, however, the Bucs can be beaten through the air. In fact, they seemingly encourage opposing offenses to cast based on their adaptation. According to Pro Football Focus and Tru Media, the Buccaneers spent at least seven defenders in the field on 59 percent of their defensive snaps, about 5 percent more often than the league average (54.2 percent). The same goes for their use of eight-man boxes: Tampa adjusted that way 31.6 percent of the time compared to a league average of 25.5 percent.

The more defenders there are in the field, the more advantageous it is for the opponent to pass instead of run. That was true against the Bucs, with opponents sending their best EPA per. Playing speed against Tampa’s eight man boxes per. Tru Media.

Well, will the Bucs really play a defense that encourages the Packers to put the ball in the hands of Aaron Rodgers, rather than Jones, Williams and Dillon? I certainly would not. But that has been Tampa’s philosophy for the better part of the last two years. They have been able to find success with it because they do such a good job of closing opposite driving games and to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Bucs put pressure on QB at 36.3 percent of dropbacks this season, a rate that far exceeded the league average of 30.7 percent.

Can they keep up the pressure on the Packers? Typically, it is easier said than done. Rodgers was the league’s second-largest quarterback this season, with rushers only coming into his face 23.8 percent of the time. And it’s not like he got rid of the ball too fast for it to ever get there. His average throw time of 2.78 seconds per. PFF was just around the league average of 2.76 seconds. He just got an incredible pass protection. Of course, the best pass protector on the team was left tackle David Bakhtiari, who is now out of season after tearing his ACL. The Packers stayed pretty much fine without him last week, but A. the strength of the Rams’ pass rush is on the inside, not on the edge; and B. Aaron Donald was wounded and clearly not himself. This week can pose a bigger challenge for the guys up front, with Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and more flying from the edge.

The Packers must also have some significant matchup advantages in the fitting game. Davante Adams can hardly be uncovered, as he showed last week against Jalen Ramsey. Bucs may not use Carlton Davis to overshadow him, but it seems unlikely to matter. Adams will beat the one that Tampa puts in front of him. But Green Bay should also have advantages with Robert Tonyan over the middle (Bucs ranked 25th in DVOA against throws to tight ends) as well as Jones and Williams out of the backfield (only two teams allowed more passes for rebounds). With so many options for Rodgers, the Packers need to be able to move the ball.

Of course, the answer to this is that every word about this was also true when the Packers and Bucs played earlier this season and the Bucs steamed themselves to a 38-10 victory. However, a repetition seems somewhat unlikely. The Packers actually led this game 10-0 and looked to be on a bit, only for Rodgers to be uncharacteristically picked-sixed by Sean Murphy-Bunting and then nearly pick-sixed by Jamel Dean in the next possession. He continued to throw only three more interceptions throughout the year. The sure bet is that he takes care of the ball and carves things out.

Latest odds:

Green Bay Packers -3.5

Prediction: Packers 27, Buccaneers 21

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