Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the final game before a string of three straight prime time contests, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to do something no team has yet this season — beat the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay will make its way to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday with a record of 4-0. Led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay has scored at least 30 points in each game. For the season, Rodgers ranks second in the NFL in passer rating and has 13 touchdown passes without an interception.
The Packers have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and running back Aaron Jones is benefiting from it. Jones ranks in the top five among running backs in both rushing yards and yards per carry. Green Bay will get its best receiver back this week with the return of Davante Adams, who missed the last three weeks. Tight end Robert Tonyan leads the team with five touchdown catches.
Tampa Bay is likely the best defense that Green Bay has faced this season. The Buccaneers rank eighth in the NFL in scoring defense and only the Indianapolis Colts are yielding fewer yards per game. Tampa Bay ranks fourth in the NFL with 17 sacks with Shaquil Barrett leading the way.
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Levonte David and Devin White are the top tacklers for Tampa Bay. Carlton Davis is tied for the NFL lead with three intercetpions.
The Buccaneers will come in with a 3-2 record after a heartbreaking 20-19 loss on the road to the Chicago Bears last week. Quarterback Tom Brady headlines the Tampa Bay offense. Despite being 43 years old, Brady still ranks in the top 10 in the NFL with 1,375 yards passing and 12 touchdown tosses.
Brady is surrounded by outstanding skill players. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette make for a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield, but the biggest threat for the Green Bay defense is likely wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans has a team-high 271 yards receiving and leads the NFL with six touchdown catches.
Tampa Bay will be facing a Green Bay defense in the middle of the pack in most areas. Christian Kirksey is the leading tackler for the Packers. Za’Darius Smith finished with three sacks and four tackles for loss in last week’s 30-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Sunday’s contest will be just the third-ever meeting between Rodgers and Brady. The two future Hall of Famers split the previous two. Green Bay and Tampa Bay have not met since 2017 when Jones scored the winning touchdown in overtime to lift the Packers to a 26-20 victory. This week’s game begins at 4:25 p.m. ET and airs on FOX.
Prediction: Green Bay 31, Tampa Bay 27
Other Games Across the State
Pittsburgh (3-2) at No. 13 Miami (3-1)
Saturday, Oct. 17 at 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
Once ranked, Pittsburgh will look to avenge consecutive losses. Miami aims to bounce back from a blowout loss at Clemson. Miami has won four of the last five in the series.
Prediction: Miami 34, Pittsburgh 20
South Florida (1-3) at Temple (0-1)
Saturday, Oct. 17 at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
East Carolina earned its first American Athletic Conference win last week against South Florida. Temple will look to do likewise. The Owls lost their opener to Navy 31-29 last week. None of the previous six meetings have been decided by fewer than nine points.
Prediction: Temple 31, South Florida 19
UCF (2-1) at Memphis (1-1)
Saturday, Oct. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Teams that have combined to win the last three American Athletic Conference titles will each look to bounce back from disappointing losses. Memphis hasn’t beat UCF since the first meeting back in 1990. The Knights have won 13 straight in the series.
Prediction: UCF 39, Memphis 31
No. 5 North Carolina (3-0) at Florida State (1-3)
Saturday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Mack Brown and North Carolina eye a first 4-0 start since 1997. Florida State looks to avoid its worst 5-game start since 1975. North Carolina has won the last two in the series. Both were in Tallahassee by identical 37-35 scores.
Prediction: North Carolina 45, Florida State 30
Florida International (0-2) at Charlotte (1-2)
Saturday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
It’s been a rough start for Florida International with two losses by a combined five points. Charlotte will play its first home game. The 49ers are 0-5 all-time against FIU.
Prediction: Charlotte 34, Florida International 29
Detroit Lions (1-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
Sunday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Since beating the Indianapolis Colts in the opener, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been in a free fall. Their last three opponents earned their first win of the season against Jacksonville. Three of Detroit’s previous four games have been decided by six points or less.
Prediction: Detroit 31, Jacksonville 24
New York Jets (0-5) at Miami Dolphins (2-3)
Sunday, Oct. 18 at 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
After a 43-17 beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins will look to get back to .500 on Sunday against the winless New York Jets. The Dolphins were originally set to visit the Denver Broncos this week, but COVID-19 positives changed the NFL schedule. Joe Flacco will make the start at quarterback for the Jets.
Prediction: Miami 31, Jets 20