Matchups Week 3: Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aaron Jones Aaron Rodgers Packers vs. Buccaneers

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)

Opening Spread: Buccaneers -3.

Opening Total: 44.

Team Totals: Buccaneers (23.5), Packers (20.5).

Weather: Outdoors, no current concerns outside of near 90-degree highs.

The Line Report

  • This line opened as Buccaneers -3.
  • This line has moved down to Buccaneers -1.5 as of Thursday evening.
  • DraftKings Pick’Em has the Buccaneers -1.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest has the Buccaneers as a Pick’Em.
  • This total opened at 44 points.
  • This total has moved all the way down to 41.5 points as of Thursday evening.

Notable Injuries

Buccaneers: WR Mike Evans (Suspended), WR Chris Godwin (Out), DT Akiem Hicks (Out), LT Donovan Smith (Doubtful), RB Leonard Fournette (Questionable), WR Julio Jones (Questionable), WR Russell Gage (Questionable), WR Breshad Perriman (Questionable).

Packers: WR Sammy Watkins (Out), WR Allen Lazard (Questionable), WR Randall Cobb (Questionable), WR Christian Watson (Questionable), LT David Bakhtiari (Questionable).

The Buccaneers Offense vs. the Packers Defense

The right side of the Buccaneers offensive line is elite. With LT Donovan Smith listed as doubtful again, Tampa Bay is vulnerable at center, left guard, and left tackle. That gives the Packers top-ten front an edge in the trenches in this matchup. 

Green Bay’s secondary would have been well-equipped to match up with the Buccaneers wide receivers if they were at full strength. As things currently stand with Evans and Godwin out, the Packers secondary gives Green Bay an edge in this contest.

Notes and Observations

  • The Buccaneers are 2-0 against the spread this season.
  • The Buccaneers are 0-2 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Tom Brady is 23rd in the league in passing yards and 25th in yards per attempt.
  • Leonard Fournette is fifth in rushing yards among running backs. But he only has four catches on six targets for 19 yards in the air this season.
  • This season, the Packers have allowed the second most rushing yards to running backs.
  • The Buccaneers will be without both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin against Green Bay. Russell Gage, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, and perhaps Julio Jones will be Tom Brady’s passing game options this week. Miller is the only player with no injury designation as of Friday.
  • The Packers have allowed the seventh-fewest receiving yards on the fourth fewest receptions to wide receivers this year. That figure is skewed some as Green Bay played the ultra-conservative Bears offense last week.
  • Green Bay has shut down opposing tight ends this season, allowing the fifth-fewest yards on the fourth fewest receptions to the position.
  • Cameron Brate has caught two of his five targets for 16 yards this season.

The Packers Offense vs. the Buccaneers Defense

We should prepare for Packers LT David Bakhtiari to sit this contest out. However, both RT Elgton Jenkins and LG Jon Runyan are now off the injury report. Factor in Aaron Rodgers’ historic play-extending abilities, and I’m treating this trench matchup as a relative draw.

Green Bay entered the season with a bottom-tier wide receiver group. This week Sammy Watkins is out, while three of their other four relevant wide receivers are on the injury report. Tampa Bay’s pass defense has played very well to start this season. Therefore, they have an edge against Green Bay in this phase.

Notes and Observations

  • The Packers are 1-1 against the spread this season.
  • The Packers are 0-2 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Aaron Rodgers is 20th in the league in passing yards and tenth in yards per attempt.
  • Rodgers has struggled in Florida, going 3-5 in road games there throughout his career.
  • Among running backs, Aaron Jones is sixth in rushing yards and tenth in receiving yards. Teammate A.J. Dillon is 19th in rushing yards and 15th in receiving yards.
  • The Packers offense runs through their running backs.
  • The Buccaneers have been a top-shelf run defense for years. Through the first two games, Tampa has allowed the 11th fewest rushing yards and the fifth-fewest receiving yards to running backs this season.
  • Tampa Bay has allowed the 16th most receiving yards on the 13th most receptions this season.
  • No Green Bay wide receiver has emerged through the first two weeks. This season, five wide receivers have a target share between 10% and 13.3%.
  • Last week, Saints rookie wide receiver Chris Olave saw 361 air yards against Tampa. Generally speaking, you have to throw against the Bucs to beat them. Christian Watson isn’t safe in any fantasy format. But he’s in an interesting position for a usage spike in this matchup.
  • Tampa Bay has surrendered the 13th most receiving yards to tight ends this season. Packers tight end Robert Tonyan’s usage has been right in line with Green Bay’s cluster of wide receivers that see significant playing time.

This is What You’re Betting On in Packers vs. Buccaneers

When Tom Brady has faced Aaron Rodgers over the last decade or more, those matchups have been billed as potential shootouts. That isn’t the case here. The Packers and Buccaneers defenses are both talented and playing well this season. Both teams’ wide receiver groups are significantly more limited right now than they were when these two teams last faced each other in the 2020 playoffs. Tampa Bay’s offensive line is significantly worse off than when these teams last met each other. 

Line Movement

The first line I checked this week was the game total for this contest. I was hoping it would be in the high-40s so I could hit the under early in the week. No such luck, as the total opened at 44 points and has been driven all the way down to 41.5 points. We don’t bet bad numbers after they’ve been steamed. But this game looks like an under on multiple fronts if you got in early on this one.

A bet on the Buccaneers is a bet on Tom Brady playing well behind the worst offensive line he’s had in years, if not in his entire career, if Donovan Smith sits out again. He’ll be doing that without his two difference-making pass catchers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, against a very talented Green Bay defense. A bet on the Bucs here is also a bet on their defense. Tampa has only allowed 13-points through the first two games this season. Tampa Bay’s run defense and elite linebacker duo match up well with the strength of Aaron Rodgers’ supporting cast: their running backs.

A bet on the Packers is a bet on Aaron Rodgers playing well with a limited supporting cast against a high-performing Buccaneers defense. It’s also a bet on Green Bay’s young, talented defense taking care of business against a Tampa Bay offense that injuries have absolutely ravaged. Given all the injuries on the Tampa Bay side, Green Bay has a better roster than the Bucs in this matchup. One of my biggest concerns on the Green Bay end is that I treat hot weather games in Florida as a genuine edge for the home team. Rodgers has struggled in Florida, most recently against the Saints on opening day last year (the venue was moved to Jacksonville due to a hurricane in New Orleans).

Packers vs. Buccaneers Pool Picks

Awards Market Ramifications: Both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are fading MVP candidates.

Winner/ Confidence Pool: I expect that I will take Green Bay as a slightly less popular pick than Tampa Bay here. In general, we should treat this as a coin flip game that we rank towards the bottom in our confidence pools.

Spread Pool: Given all the injuries in Tampa Bay, I’m going to consider taking the Packers in at least one tournament entry this weekend.

Survivor: This game should be avoided for survivor purposes.


WATCH MORE: Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer break down the Tampa Bay defense.


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