This is one of those games that's been gnawing at me all week. Both sides will be without numerous key personnel, but the absences are more significant for the Bucs with three top receivers all out. While Leonard Fournette is playing well, Tampa Bay's offensive line has also been decimated and seems to get worse by the week. Meanwhile, the Packers are getting David Bakhtiari, and while he does not move the line, he'll certainly help Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones. While Green Bay is my choice to win outright, getting the hook here gives us value on a close loss. It's also worth considering a half-bet on the over as 42 is notably low in a game with quarterbacks of this caliber no matter their available pass catchers.
OK, now this I have absolutely confirmed: The Bucs will be without receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, left tackle Donovan Smith and defensive tackle Akiem HIcks. Some of those we knew, some are news today. The Packers will welcome Pro Bowl offensive tackle David Bakhtiari back to action.
The injury concerns appear to be a push, but the Bucs still have an edge in available weapons and have a history under Tom Brady of maximizing what they have. A blowout over the Bears won't be a cure-all for the Packers, who are going to struggle to move the ball without a consistent go-to receiver. Tampa Bay has dominated this series with a 5-2 ATs mark in the last seven and should get there again Sunday.
After beginning the season with two road games, the Buccaneers finally will host a contest in Week 3. It will be against a Packers team against which they have had success with a blowout regular-season win and NFC Championship Game upset two seasons ago. Even though the Buccaneers are 2-0, they have had issues scoring touchdowns while in the red zone. Look for Green Bay to match their level of intensity and get the road win.
The Bears' David Montgomery gashed the Packers for 122 yards on 15 carries (8.1 ypc) on Sunday Night Football, and Green Bay wasn't exactly playing light boxes to protect against Justin Fields' throws. Leonard Fournette is going to have a big game, especially if left tackle Donovan Smith returns from the elbow injury he suffered in Week 1. Aaron Rodgers has thrown more INTs (9) than TDs (8) vs. the Bucs, the only team to carry that distinction. Tampa Bay is allowing 4.2 yards per play, third-best in the NFL. Green Bay has failed to cover four straight road games while Tampa Bay has covered 11 of its last 14 at home. Lay the small number.
This total has crashed down to 41 with Tampa Bay's wide receiver issues, but the biggest factor in this game is the Bucs' elite pass D, which ranks third in yards per play and sack rate and is tied for second in third-down success rate. Green Bay's defense is also tied for second on third downs but is 26th in yards per play, and it had particular trouble slowing down the Bears run game last week (process that statement for a minute). This could be a Lombardi Lenny game with Tampa's WR room in flux, but I expect it to be another banner day for the Bucs defense. The Bucs offense hasn't looked its best yet, but it's opened with two road games in tough environments and come away with wins. I think this line deserves to be -3.
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