The Buccaneers (4-7) are back in action on Sunday afternoon, taking on the Packers (5-6) in Green Bay. Here, we preview the game and tell you where to watch and listen to it.
While the Buccaneers aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the final five games of this season will be more about evaluating for the future. On Sunday, Tampa Bay is taking on the Packers in Green Bay for the first time since 2011. Prior to the season, this game looked like a heavyweight match-up between two playoff-bound teams. Instead, both teams are on the outside looking in, thanks in large part to injuries to their quarterbacks.
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The Bucs are coming off a 34-20 loss against the Falcons last Sunday, which snapped a two-game winning streak. The defense struggled with Julio Jones, who caught 12 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith seemed to have no legitimate answer for Jones, which led to a rough day his unit. The offense didn’t do much to help either, as Ryan Fitzpatrick failed to get any momentum going with his receivers. The run game continued to struggle, especially once Doug Martin left early with a concussion.
The big story for this week’s game, though, is that Jameis Winston appears to be coming back after missing time with a shoulder injury. Fans and analysts are debating whether or not it’s a smart move to start Winston with nothing to play for, including us here at The Pewter Plank. Tampa Bay placed its two best offensive linemen, Ali Marpet and Demar Dotson, on injured reserve this week. So now, the Bucs are sending their franchise quarterback- who may or may not be 100 percent- out behind a line that isn’t at full strength. Regardless, it should be nice to see No. 3 back on the field for the first time in a few weeks.
Green Bay is struggling with its own injuries right now, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. Aaron Rodgers has been out since Oct. 15 with a broken collarbone, and he is just now approaching a return to practice. In his absence, Brett Hundley has been hit-or-miss, though he did throw for 245 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Steelers. At 5-6, the Packers are no longer a likely playoff team, which takes a lot of intrigue out of Sunday’s matchup.
Both teams are having mediocre years on both sides of the ball. The Bucs are 14th in total offense, while the Packers are 25th. On the other side, Tampa Bay ranks dead last in total defense. Green Bay is 23rd.
The Bucs are more banged up than they have been all season. While Winston is returning, there are plenty of guys ruled out. On defense, Tampa Bay will be without Robert Ayers (concussion), Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring), Clinton McDonald (back) and T.J. Ward (concussion). Offensively, Martin (concussion) will be out. Special teams captain Josh Robinson (hamstring) is also out. Cameron Brate (hip) and DeSean Jackson (foot) are questionable.
Last time these two teams met, the Packers came away with a 20-3 win at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs managed to put up just 109 yards and six first downs in the game. Overall, Green Bay leads the all-time regular season series 30-21-1, including an 18-7 advantage at home.
Where to Watch
Sunday’s game has a 1:00 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by FOX. Tim Brando (play-by-play), Greg Jennings (color commentary) and Jennifer Hale (sideline) will have the call.
Where to Listen
As usual, fans in the Tampa Bay area can listen to the game on 98Rock (97.9 FM). Gene Deckerhoff, Dave Moore and T.J. Rives will bring the action. For other radio options around Florida, check here. Fans can also listen to the game on buccaneers.com or the Buccaneers mobile app.
Satellite radio subscribers can hear the Tampa Bay broadcast on XM Internet 829. The Green Bay broadcast will be on XM 83.
For in-game and postgame coverage of Sunday’s game, follow @ThePewterPlank on Twitter.
"Locked on Bucs previewed today’s action in Green Bay! Give it a listen as you prepare for the action!"