GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Packers look for redemption a week after a brutal last-minute loss in Pittsburgh. Here’s what you need to know before Sunday’s noon kickoff against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from Lambeau Field.
Storylines to watch
Which Hundley will we see?: Hundley registered 110-plus passer ratings in two of the last three games (110.8 at Chicago and 134.3 at Pittsburgh), and he’s the only NFL QB to have three touchdown passes of 35-plus yards in a game this season. Those figures lie in stark contrast to the abysmal, shutout performance against the Ravens (43.6 QBR, 3 INT, 1 fumble, 6 sacks). But the Buccaneers rank last in the NFL in total defense and pass defense, so on paper, Hundley is primed to have another huge day against one of the league’s worst defenses. The question is whether Hundley indeed did turn a corner in Pittsburgh and if he can hang enough points on the board against the Bucs defense’ that ranks No. 30 in yards, No. 21 in points allowed and No. 27 in defensive passer rating.
Game of catch: Both Bucs top receiver Mike Evans and Packers WR Davante Adams have notched 702 yards so far this season. On the Packers side, 13 different players have catches, including eight Packers with 10-plus receptions and 140-plus yards; Adams being the leader of that corps with 55 catches for 702 yards and seven touchdowns. The Packers, however, rank just 25th in overall pass defense, while Bucs receivers average 13.8 yards per reception, so this could be a week for Evans, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard to exploit a secondary that has shown it can’t cover top receivers effectively. The passing game figures to be even more important for Tampa, as top Bucs back Doug Martin has a concussion and QB Jameis Winston returns from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the last three games. The trick for Green Bay is mixing effective coverage with pressure on Winston, forcing him to make poor decisions on the move.
Pounding the rock: The Packers held opponents to less than 65 rushing yards in three straight games since Week 9. Bucs back Doug Martin has not been particularly effective this season, rushing for a total 376 yards through 11 games. For reference, Aaron Jones put up 370 yards while only starting four games. And speaking of Jones, he should be back on the field Sunday. Green Bay moved Ty Montgomery to injured reserve, so the load is fully on Jamaal Williams and Jones’ shoulders moving forward, which the two rookie backs have shown isn’t a bad thing.
#Packers RB Aaron Jones (knee) is expected to return to the field today vs. #Bucs for the first time since Nov. 12, source said. He'll tag-team the backfield with Jamaal Williams.
Turn it on over: The Packers have a takeaway in 10 of 11 games this season, including each of their last nine contests, tying for tops in the league with at least one per game. Green Bay has recorded a turnover margin of +7 in the last eight games, winning the turnover battle in six of those last eight. Damarious Randall alone is tied for third in the league with his four interceptions on the season. Overall, the Packers are +5 in turnover margin, which is tied for fifth in the NFL, but the Buccaneers are tied sixth at +6.
5+5=10: Mike McCarthy said this week the Packers are aware of the opportunity at hand: Win out or face no postseason. That being said, the Packers must be dialed in to each game and not become distracted by bigger-picture implications. Meanwhile, the 4-7 Bucs have been all but eliminated from the playoffs, so those players at this point are playing for their futures within the organization. The Packers have a chance to start a run to, err, run the table, with all reports indicating Aaron Rodgers’ return is right on track for Week 14.
Last meeting: Green Bay won 20-3 at Raymond James Stadium in 2014
Last time in Lambeau: Packers won 35-26 in 2011
Packers lead the regular-season series 31-21-1
.833: Green Bay’s winning percentage (10 of 12) going back to 2014, including four in a row.
4: The Packers, Patriots and Steelers were the only teams to go 4-0 in December last season
3rd: Bucs’ NFL rank in total passing yards this season (264.5)
67.7%: Packers’ red-zone offense efficiency, the second-best mark in the NFL
4: Packers who have played in the league prior to the 2009 season
7: Nick Perry’s sack total, most on the team -- just under half of the sacks Tampa Bay has as a team and about one-third of Green Bay’s total