Buccaneers vs Packers preview: Can Tampa Bay keep the winning streak, and playoff hopes, alive?

Tampa Bay has to notch their first three-game win streak on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
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After enduring a serious midseason slump with losses in six of seven games after the bye week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Week 12 with their playoff chances looking slim.

Then, just like that, the Bucs won back-to-back divisional games and seem to have recaptured the magic they had at the beginning of the season. As a result of wins over Atlanta and Carolina, Tampa Bay is now 6-7 and back first in the NFC South with just four games remaining.

Due to both the Saints and Falcons entering the Week 15 matchups as favorites, the Bucs will need to win their third straight to stay atop the division. It won't be easy, though, as Tampa Bay has the hardest matchup of the group with a road game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in a high-stakes conference game for a pair of playoff hopefuls.

Although the Bucs and the Packers each have the same record at 6-7, Green Bay is currently the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, as opposed to Tampa Bay's No. 4 seed. This can be attributed to Detroit's resurgent season, which pins the Lions at 9-4 and the likely NFC North division winners.

Regardless, Green Bay is still one of the NFC's hottest teams with wins in four of their past six games. Jordan Love has taken over the Packers' offense after the departure of Aaron Rodgers and the young gun hasn't disappointed.

Jordan Love might be a problem for the Bucs defense

Despite a shaky start to the season, Love has completed 61 percent of his pass attempts for 3,084 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a 118.8 passer rating this season. During the Packers' last six games, however, Love has completed 140-213 (65.7%) for 1,592 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 102.8 passer rating.

Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones suffered a sprained MCL in Week 11, and A.J. Dillion has served as Green Bay's workhorse for the majority of the season. In all 13 games, Dillion has recorded 164 carries for 574 rushing yards one touchdown, and 3.5 YPC, while catching 22 passes for 223 receiving yards.

Even without a superstar wide receiver like Davante Adams, Love has still thrown to a solid receiving corps, led by standout rookie Jayden Reed. So far this season he has caught 48 passes for a team-high 540 receiving yards and five touchdowns, along with 11 carries for 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Alongside Reed, Romeo Doubs and Christain Watson have both also had solid seasons. Doubs, the No. 132 pick in the 2022 draft, has notched 49 receptions for 537 receiving yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, Watson, the No. 34 pick in the 2022 draft, has caught 28 passes for 422 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Can Bucs stifle the Packers so-so defense?

Compared to last year, Green Bay's defense continued to be all over the place. Last season, the Packers allowed just 336.5 YPG (17th in NFL), 197.0 PYPG (6th in NFL), 139.5 RYPG (25th in NFL), and 21.8 PPG (17th in NFL). This year, Green Bay has posted marks of 342.1 YPG (19th in NFL), 200.2 PYPG (8th in NFL), 141.8 RYPG (31st in NFL), and 20.5 PPG (11th in NFL).

For the last two seasons, Green Bay has struggled to contain the run, and without linebackers De'Vondre Campbell and Krys Barnes, that issue has worsened this year. Fortunately, the breakout of MLB Quay Walker has helped offset that: Walker has recorded 92 total tackles, five tackles for loss, three passes defended, and one interception that was returned 37 yards for the 2022 No. 22 pick's first career touchdown.

Overall, Green Bay's pass rush has remained solid, in large part to the pass-rushing trio of superstar Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, and star Kenny Clark: Gary has recorded 36 tackles, a team-high nine sacks, and six tackles for loss; Smith has notched 41 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and three tackles for loss; Clark has totaled 36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and six tackles for loss.

With their second straight season ranking inside the top-ten of opponent pass yards, there have been multiple players that have been solid this season. Take Rudy Ford for example, who has posted 60 total tackles, five passes defended, and a team-best two interceptions as the Packers' starting FS. In addition, CBs Rasul Douglas and Keisean Nixon have each had one interception, along with six and five passes defended, respectively.

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