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Countdown to Kickoff: Buccaneers-Packers, Week 15 2023

The Buccaneers will travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers at Lambeau Field … Key stats, lineup notes and more


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will head to Green Bay riding a two-game win streak to take on the Packers at historic Lambeau Field in Week 15. "Singular focus" and "playoff mentality" have become the vocalized theme for the Bucs as they make a late-season push for a third-straight NFC South crown. Tampa Bay beat the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, thrusting the club into a three-way record-tie with the Falcons and New Orleans Saints for first place in the division. The Bucs command the driver's seat due to tiebreakers and they will look to build momentum against a Packers' team coming off a 24-22 loss to the Giants. Green Bay's recent upsets over the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions sparked confidence as they pursue a Wild Card spot. After a week of preparation, here is what the Week 15 matchup comes down to:

4 Stats That Matter

  • The Packers are the only team in the NFL with three receivers with five-plus receiving touchdowns in 2023 including Doubs (7), Watson (5) and Reed (5).
  • The Packers are tied for 17th in points per game (21.5) and 18th in yards per game (329.3) in 2023.
  • Tampa Bay has allowed a touchdown on 41.9 percent of opponents' red zone drives in 2023 (fourth-lowest in the NFL). Green Bay has scored a touchdown on 51.1 percent of their red zone drives in 2023 (21st in the NFL).
  • Green Bay has allowed 141.8 rush yards per game in 2023 (second-most in the NFL trailing only Denver, 144.0). The Packers' defense has allowed 140-plus rush yards in five-straight games. Conversely, the Bucs have rushed for 125-plus yards in three straight games. Rachaad White has 440 rush yards since Week Nine (one of five players with 400-plus rush yards during that span).

3 Lineup Notes

  • The Buccaneers had six defensive starters, wide receiver Chris Godwin and long-snapper Zach Triner on their Week 15 injury report. Two of the eight were ruled out for Sunday's game in Green Bay including cornerback Carlton Davis III (groin) and defensive lineman William Gholston (knee/ankle).
  • Following practice on Friday, Todd Bowles indicated that nose tackle Vita Vea, the Bucs' sack leader, will be a game day decision. He was listed as doubtful on the injury report, along with safety Ryan Neal. Vea missed the Bucs' Week 14 game in Atlanta due to a toe injury. Inside linebacker Devin White (foot) will also be a game day decision. He was listed as questionable after missing the matchup against Atlanta. Receiver Chris Godwin (knee) and cornerback Jamel Dean (ankle/foot), who practiced in a full capacity on Friday, were listed as questionable.
  • The Packers listed receiver Christian Watson as doubtful and running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, receiver Dontayvion Wicks, cornerback Jaire Alexander, linebacker Quay Walker, safety Darnell Savage and cornerback Eric Stokes as questionable on the final injury report ahead of the Week 15 matchup with the Bucs. Watson missed last week and did not practice throughout the week. The offense will rely on Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Malik Heath to get the job done without deep threat, Watson.

2 Challenges Presented by the Packers

Packers' fourth-year quarterback Jordan Love has hit peaks and valleys during his debut season in the starting role, after spending three seasons behind future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers on the depth chart. Love has experienced the expected growing pains that come with added reps. Over the last month, Love's decision-making has improved, spurring the team to wins over the Chiefs and Lions. Love has thrown 23 touchdown passes (tied for fifth in the NFL) and has shown the ability to deliver the ball from a variety of angles off-platform and he possesses mobility to extend plays outside of the pocket using his legs. For the Buccaneers, being disciplined in run fits and angles will be crucial. The Packers' offensive line has allowed the fifth-fewest sacks (26.0) on Love in 2023, even with David Bakhtiari on injured reserve. The Bucs will strive to collapse the pocket and force errant throws come Sunday. Love will have a dynamic cast of characters and route-running technicians to get the ball to. 

Defensively, Green Bay ranks 11th in the league in points allowed and has been effective against the pass, ranking eighth (200.2). Edge rusher Rashan Gary and interior disruptor Kenny Clark spearhead a defense that is ranked 10th in red zone touchdown percentage allowed. Gary leads the team in sacks with 9.0 and has accumulated 19 quarterback hits. He is explosive out of blocks and at getting to the quarterback with an elite speed-to-power conversion. Gary plays with a relentless motor and helps set the tone with Clark. As an every-down nose tackle, Clark is a multifaceted interior defender with a rare ability to gain leverage at the point of attack. He has posted 4.5 sacks and has a good feel for how to overcome double teams. For Tampa Bay, winning the battle in the trenches and matching the Packers' physicality will likely be a key to victory.

"They present different fronts, and they have the personnel to do it," said Baker Mayfield. "It starts up front with Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark – two really good players. Then, their linebackers are really aggressive, physical guys. Bigger linebackers that know how to fit the run. In the back end, they have smart guys who know how to disguise coverages. They all play really well together. That's a big difference. We have to know certain looks they're going to give us and be able to handle the battle and physicality up front."

1 Key Quote from Head Coach Todd Bowles

On Packers' receiving room:

"The biggest thing about this week – these guys are young, but they're route runners. Normally you either face speed guys or big guys that can catch. They've got size, speed, and they've got precision. They're very good route runners, they have very good hands, and they compete. At any point in time, any one of them can beat you. That's what makes it hard about these guys – they're all pretty much on the same level. They're very good football players. You might not have heard the name, but if you watch them play, those guys can play."

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