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Preview: Green Bay Packers at Buccaneers

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The first thing that jumps out is zero, which is the number of 2009 wins by the last remaining winless team this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They looked very good in week 4 last season when they beat the Packers 30-21, but that seems like a long time ago. Since then they've fired their Super Bowl winning head coach, their long time defensive coordinator left for the University of Tennessee, and they've released or traded several defensive starters, including Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks. After an ugly loss to the Patriots in London, the Bucs are coming off the bye-week and giving their rookie 1st round QB Josh Freeman his first NFL start. As long as I'm dumping on the Bucs, I might as well mentioned how they shot themselves in the foot by firing Ron Wolf back in 1978.

Sometimes a record doesn't tell the whole story. But in this case it does; the Bucs are as bad as they look.

Instead of using the official NFL stats this week, I'm going with Football Outsiders. The problem with the official stats, which are based on yards/game, is that they don't take into account that their opponents have only attempted 180 passes against the Bucs, which is the lowest total in the NFL. I don't know why teams aren't throwing the ball against them because they aren't very good at stopping them: they've allowed 16 TDs to 8 INTs while their opponents' QB rating against them is 102.1. So from Football Outsiders.com:

Team Run Offense Pass Offense Run Defense Pass Defense
   Packers      13 8 6 7
Team Run Defense Pass Defense Run Offense Pass Offense
Buccaneers 30 31 20 26

While RB Ryan Grant isn't running his way to the Pro Bowl this season, the Bucs aren't stopping anyone, only holding their opponents to 4.7 yards/carry. That's similar to the Browns, who allow 4.9 yards/carry, and Grant ran over them for 148 yards and 1 TD. Packers.

As I mentioned above the jump, though teams aren't throwing a lot of passes against the Bucs, it doesn't mean they are stopping the ones that are thrown. QB Aaron Rodgers has a QB rating of 110.4, Bucs are "holding" their opponents to a 102.1 QB rating - it sounds like a matchup Rodgers should win. Packers.

If the Bucs have one bright spot, it's their running game, which is moving along at a 4.2 yards/carry. Both of their top rushers, RB Cadillac Williams and RB Derrick Ward, are over 4 yards/carry this season. But the Packers run defense has been even better, holding opponents to 3.5 yards/carry, while only allowing 3 rushing TDs and recovering 4 fumbles. The Bucs rushing attack is doing about as well as Detroit and Cleveland, and neither of those teams did much running the ball against the Packers earlier this season. Packers.

While not as good as last season, the Packers pass defense is still very good with 11 INTs and holding their opponents to a QB rating of 74.4. The Bucs have been awful the last 4 weeks with QB Josh Johnson as their starter, not that QB Byron Leftwich did much in the 3 games he started. So, as mentioned before the jump, they are turning to the rookie Freeman. It's hard to know how the rookie will play, but if he is truly better than Johnson or Leftwich (at this point in his career) you'd think he would have started before week 8. Packers.

Packers 38, Bucs 10.