NFL fans get to rejoice this weekend as they will finally get to see Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady face each other as the Green Bay Packers will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game on Sunday. As much as the build up for this game will be quarterback versus quarterback, Rodgers and Brady will not be on the field at the same time. Just like their first matchup this season, this game will come down to defense.
A Bad Day for Rodgers
In week 6, the Bucs defense dominated the Packers offense on their way to a 38-10 win. Rodgers had his worst game of the season completing only 16-of-35 passes for only 160 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions, including one interception getting returned for a touchdown by Jamel Dean.
“I think the Week 6 game matters just about as much as when the Saints went to Tamps and beat them 38-3,” Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee Show. “It obviously didn’t affect them last week at all. We lost by 28 at their place, they lost by 35 at home. They just beat the Saints by 10. This is a funny game. Things change, teams change and evolve, and either get better or worse. Not much staying the same.”
It was the only game for Rodgers this season where he completed under 50 percent of his passes, threw for less than 200 yards and did not throw for a touchdown. A big reason for that was the Bucs defense found success when blitzing Rodgers.
According to Next Gen Stats, Rodgers went 3-for-12 to go along with two interceptions, and a 0.0 passer rating against the Bucs defense in week 6. Against every other team Rodgers faced including in the playoffs, Rodgers went a combined 99-for-148 passing (66.9 completion percentage), 15 touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 123.5.
The week 6 game can be considered an outlier for Rodgers, but also because Bucs defense has struggled blitzing the second half of the season.
Rodgers’ Strength Against the Bucs Weakness
Since week 9 (including the playoffs), the Bucs have allowed a passer rating of 120.3 on blitzes, the third-highest in the NFL according to Next Gen Stats. They have a pressure rate of 24.2, allow a 68.1 completion percentage and given up 13 touchdown passes, the most touchdowns allowed on blitzes in the NFL.
Besides struggling when blitzing, the Bucs defense has struggled also defending the deep ball. It does not bold well for them as Rodgers is one of the best deep passers in the NFL.
On deep passes this season, Rodgers has the best touchdown-to-interception ratio throwing 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a 127.3 passer rating when throwing deep, the third-highest rating in the NFL.
When defending the big plays, including the playoffs, the Bucs allow a 119.5 passer rating, the fifth-highest in the NFL. They also have given up eight touchdowns on deep passes
Obviously the Bucs defense got the best of the Packers offense in their first matchup. It is very unlikely for Rodgers to play that horribly again. The Bucs cannot depend on their same game plan to work against Rodgers in this matchup if they want to advance to Super Bowl LV.