Packers vs. Buccaneers Odds & Picks: Back Brady and Tampa Bay Against Rodgers and Green Bay
Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady
Packers vs. Buccaneers Odds
What more could you ask for as an NFL fan?
In a rare matchup between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers head to Raymond James Stadium to take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. With interconference teams playing each other once every four years, Sunday’s meeting marks just the third time that Brady and Rodgers will meet head-to-head.
This time, Brady plays the unfamiliar role of home underdog, with the Packers having a slight edge on most books.
So where is the betting value in this matchup?
Green Bay Packers
What a difference a year makes.
Do a quick google search for “Aaron Rodgers” and the word “elite.” Odds are you’ll find numerous articles from 2019 questioning his status as a top-tier NFL quarterback.
Through the first four games of this season, Rodgers has sent those takes to the dumpster. He’s thrown for 303.3 yards per game (third), 13 touchdowns (third) and is first in ESPN’s Total QBR, Football Outsiders’ DVOA and Expected Points Added Per Play with zero interceptions. His stellar play has him as one of the front-runners for MVP and has the 4-0 Packers looking like Super Bowl contenders with the NFL’s top-ranked offense.
Green Bay is No. 1 in offensive success rate and No. 2 in explosive play rate (per Sharp Football Stats), with 14% of their plays going for 20 or more yards.
Green Bay’s offense is elite and was unstoppable even without star receiver Davante Adams, averaging 33.5 points in the two games without him. Adams is set to return this week in Tampa Bay, although Allen Lazard will miss his second straight game after undergoing core surgery.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams head a rushing attack that’s averaging 150 rushing yards per game on 5.1 yards per carry and is fourth in explosive play rate. Stopping the run isn’t enough if you want to slow down this offense, as the running back duo is also catching nine catches a game for 63.5 yards.
That said, the Packers have been blessed with an easy schedule to start the season and Buccaneers will be the best team they’ve faced in 2020.
The Vikings, Lions, Saints and Falcons have a combined record of 5-14 with a point differential of -84. Ranking these teams in terms of DVOA, you can see that the Buccaneers are step up in class compared to the rest of their opponents.
- Vikings: 13th
- Lions: 24th
- Saints: Eighth
- Falcons: 25th
- Buccaneers: Second
These teams also represent the eighth-easiest schedule of opposing passing offenses and the second-easiest schedule of opposing explosive passing offenses. The Packers have also been fortunate enough to play three of their opponents without their No. 1 wide receiver as they faced the Lions without Kenny Golladay, the Saints without Michael Thomas and the Falcons with Julio Jones playing just 15 snaps.
Given the circumstances, the Packers ranking 16th in scoring defense allowing 25.5 points per game is a tad misleading.
The Packers are far worse than their points allowed numbers indicate as they’re 29th in defensive DVOA. Despite holding a lead in every game, they’re 31st in pressure rate (17.6%), which is disappointing considering it’s easier for teams to get after the quarterback playing from in front. Green Bay’s defense is allowing 4.8 yards per carry, which ranks 25th in the league. They’re also allowing 58% of run plays to be successful and 52% of pass plays to be successful, which ranks 25th and 23rd among all NFL teams.
The Packers have particularly struggled against two-tight end sets, allowing 69% of runs to be successful and 67% of passes to be successful.
Cornerback Kevin King is a game-time decision for the Packers, so they could be down a key piece in matching up with the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans. The return of defensive tackle Kenny Clark should provide some relief to stop the run, but it’s important to recognize this defense struggled with him on the field last year as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As if Tom Brady’s fourth-down blunder to seal a Week 5 loss to the Bears wasn’t enough motivation, this will be just the fourth time in his career in which he’ll open as a home underdog. Brady is currently 2-1 (66.7%) in the unfamiliar role as home underdog and 21-9-2 (68.8%) as an underdog overall according to our BetLabs database.
Brady’s teams have been especially resilient as he’s 31-12 (72.1%) against the spread after a loss.
Trends aside, there’s a number of key factors that put the Bucs in prime position for a bounce-back performance: Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller and Leonard Fournette all missed that game against the Bears, while Evans has been dealing with nagging injuries of his own. The additional rest gained from having a Thursday night game 10 days before this one should give Tampa Bay enough time to play a full offensive unit.
Although the Buccaneers have lost O.J. Howard for the season, they should find some success using 12 personnel with both Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate as they’ve been successful on 53% of their runs and 56% of their passes in that formation. Ronald Jones and Fournette should be in for a big game against a struggling Packers run defense as the Buccaneers are eighth in rushing success rate rushing for just 4.1 yards per carry in the first five games of this season.
Under Todd Bowles, the defense has been the best run defense in the league over the past two seasons. This year they’re first in rushing yards and explosive run rate allowing just 2.7 yards per carry. The Buccaneers are also fourth in sacks (17) and fifth in pressure rate (27.75).
Unfortunately, they’ll be without the services of nose tackle Vita Vea, who is out for the season with a broken ankle. Vea was ranked first in pass rush win rate and fifth in pressure rank among all Buccaneers. Six-year pro Rakeem Nunez-Roches will be his replacement and appears to be a suitable replacement. However this will put more pressure on Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh to step up.
Carlton Davis has been questionable with an abdomen injury but appears to be on track to play Sunday. He should be a key in defending Davante Adams and hopes to build on his strong start to the season as he leads the league in interceptions.
This is a classic sharps vs. squares matchup.
Oddsmakers opened this line at the start of the week at Packers -1.5 and despite the majority of the money on the road favorite, we’re seeing the line move the other direction.
I think the wrong team is favored, and you have to wonder what this line would be if Tampa Bay didn’t have several blunders in their Thursday Night matchup against the Chicago Bears. I think Tampa Bay would be closer to -2 than the +2s that popped up in the market earlier this week.
The Packers have played a below-average schedule and will step up in class for the first time this season. On the other hand, this will be the worst defense the Buccaneers will have faced all season. I expect a bounce back game and one of the best performances of the season from Brady and a Bucs offense that is the healthiest they’ve been in a few weeks.
Although I like Tampa Bay to win this game, Green Bay will get their points as well, so this figures to be a high-scoring game. There’s a reason this total was steamed from 51.5 to the current line of 55. All value is gone at this price, but should number creep below the key number of 54, you’d have the best of it playing the over.
PICK: Buccaneers +1.5