Aaron Rodgers: Are the Tampa Bay Bucs His Kryptonite?
As the surging 9-0 Green Bay Packers get ready to face the stumbling 4-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, the question has to be asked. Can Aaron Rodgers continue his MVP-type play this week against the Bucs?
Now...why would I ask a question like that? I mean...the Bucs have lost three games in a row and their loss last Sunday vs. the Houston Texans at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa was embarrassing.
Meanwhile, the Packers have won 15 games in a row, which started in 2010, when Green Bay went on to win Super Bowl XLV— a Super Bowl in which Aaron Rodgers was the MVP.
Rodgers has also put together perhaps the best campaign a quarterback has ever had nine games into a season. Currently, Rodgers has thrown 28 TD passes to just three interceptions for 2,869 yards and also has a 130.7 QB rating. Rodgers has also completed 72.9 percent of his passes.
Add to that, Rodgers has not had a QB rating below 111.4 all season. For nine straight games. If Rodgers has a QB rating of over 100 vs. the Bucs, he will have set a new NFL record.
Speaking of records, right now Rodgers is on pace to perhaps break every major single-season record in terms of QB play.
Rodgers is on a pace to at least tie Tom Brady's 50 TD passes that he threw in 2007.Rodgers is also on pace to break Dan Marino's record of 5,084 yards passing in 1984.
Rodgers is also on pace to beat Peyton Manning's QB rating record of 121.1 in 2004.
Finally, Rodgers is already the highest-rated passer in the history of the NFL with a QB rating of 103.4. No other QB in history has a QB rating above 100. Rodgers is also the highest-rated QB in NFL history in the postseason, with 112.6 rating.
So...why worry about the Buccaneers? For one thing, Rodgers is 0-2 lifetime vs. the Bucs. For another, Rodgers has completed only 31 of 62 passes for 431 yards and has only four TD passes compared to six interceptions.
Also, Rodgers has a career QB rating of only 54.6 against the Bucs, which is Rodgers' worst against any team since he has become a starting QB.
In addition to that, the Packers will be playing the Bucs on Sunday in a classic sandwich game. The Packers just whipped the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night and have to play the Bucs Sunday on short rest.
Plus, after playing the Bucs, the Packers will travel to Detroit to play the currently 6-3 Lions on Thanksgiving.
Also, Raheem Morris was not in a good mood after the Bucs lost 37-9 to the Texans. Morris promised that the Bucs would practice in pads twice this week to prepare for the Packers to help improve a "lack of physicality" that the Bucs showed on Sunday vs. Houston.Morris was also concerned about the lack of effort that the Bucs showed. The Bucs almost had a players-only meeting after that dreadful loss, but instead the coaches addressed the team.
The game vs. the 9-0 Packers is also a chance for the Bucs to show some accountability and to save their season.
However, the Packers also remember the two most recent losses to the Bucs, especially the one in 2009, when the Bucs were 0-7 and QB Josh Freeman was getting his first career start. The Packers led 28-17 early in the fourth quarter when the Bucs, behind Freeman, rallied for a 38-28 win in Tampa.
The Packers quickly had a players-only after that loss and they turned their 2009 season around, winning seven out of their last eight games to secure a wild-card spot in the playoffs.
2010 then became a Super Bowl year. The 2011 season has been perfect, at least in terms of the record.
Unlike the previous two games against the Bucs, Rodgers will now face Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field. Lambeau Field used to be a house of horrors for the Bucs, as they finally won there in 2005 after going 16 years without a win.
Another positive sign for Rodgers is that next to the Bucs, his worst QB rating against any team he had started against was 60.4 vs. the New Orleans Saints. That was before the opening game of the 2011 NFL season, when Rodgers threw three TD passes vs. zero picks for 312 yards and a QB rating of 132.1. When it's all said and done, I expect Rodgers to have another very good game this Sunday vs. the Bucs. However, I think the Buccaneers will come to Lambeau and put forth their best effort. That may not mean a win for the Bucs, but it will be a step in the right direction.
Rodgers and the Packers meanwhile, will continue on their march of perfection.
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