NFC Championship Preview – Battle Of The Bays Renewed

The 2020-2021 NFC Championship game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) and the Green Bay Packers (13-3) will feature two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.The contest will undoubtedly be an offensive showdown that will come down to which defense can simply slow the other more efficiently.

Both of these teams field offenses that rank among the top in most categories: passing yards per game, rushing yards per game and points scored per game. However, the only statistic one team lacks is rushing yards per game, where Tampa Bay falls to No. 28 in the league.

The Packers have an all-around strong offense with Aaron Jones in the backfield, Robert Tonyan at tight end and Allen Lazard receiving passes, just to name a few weapons.

While all of the aforementioned names are worthy of praise, a large shadow is cast over them by the connection shared between Rodgers and his favorite wide receiver Davante Adams.

Adams, who likely holds claim to the title of ‘league’s best receiver’ in the eyes of any sensible NFL viewer, has had a career season in 2020. Though it is his seventh year in the NFL, all with Green Bay, Adams has posted the highest numbers of his career. He tallied 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns on 115 receptions.

Rodgers is right alongside his receiver in having one of the best years of his 16-year career as he’s thrown for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns and only five interceptions on 70.7% completion.

The Packers offense is strong, but they will meet a defense that has shown up big in the postseason. 

Defensive tackle Vita Vea is designated to return to a strong defensive line that allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL, and it may make it difficult for Green Bay to run the ball.

Surely, forcing Rodgers to pass may seem like a death sentence to most teams, but not the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay’s secondary has reeled in 15 interceptions in 2020, and held Drew Brees to 134 yards and a touchdown, while only completing 55.8% of his passes and three interceptions in the NFC Divisional round.

Rodgers, himself, had issues against the Buccaneers defense when the two teams faced off in October during the regular season. He only managed to complete 16 of 35 passes for 160 yards, never passing for a touchdown and throwing two interceptions.

On the other side of the coin lies 43-year old Tom Brady, who has proven his abilities outside of the New England Patriots system in his first season removed from the team.

In the regular season, Brady ranked third in the NFL in yards per game with 289.6, sat in second, only behind Rodgers, for total passing touchdowns with 40 and threw for the second-most amount of completions with 401.

He may be older, but his age should not be viewed as a weakness to the Packers.

The Green Bay defense is not the best in the league, and it showed in their loss on the road to the Buccaneers in the regular season. They gave up 166 yards and two touchdowns to Brady, but also allowed 158 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, with 113 yards and both touchdowns belonging to Ronald Jones.

An injured Jones will now likely play backup to Leonard Fournette, who the team acquired early in the 2020 season. 

Many hope to see an offensive shootout between two of the game’s greatest active quarterbacks, and while it might be just that, both teams will enter the contest with very different gameplans. Don’t be surprised to see a strong run game presence from Tampa Bay, and a heavy pass-first approach from Green Bay.

Written by A.J. Spurr

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