By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
Without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers are just not the same. But, even without Rodgers, the Packers have a good shot at beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the way they have been playing this season.
Winning this game could keep playoff contention within reach for the Packers, but getting there just seems unlikely. The Packers are just flat-out bad without Rodgers.
Since Rodgers went down in the game against the Minnesota Vikings in week six, the Packers have only won one game. That sole won can against a horrible Chicago Bears until that was going nowhere is a hurry this season.
This Sunday, both teams will be playing for pride. Brett Hundley, the starting quarterback for the Packers will be looking to keep moving in the right direction and get better on Sunday.
Hundley is not Rodgers, that is as clear as day, but he could come into his own if he builds some confidence. There are spurts of athleticism here and there that he has shown off, but he hasn’t been very productive.
Winning this game can also take some pressure off of Hundley. He will be compared to Rodgers all season long, but if he can win more often, the critics won’t be as harsh and fans may be more supportive of him instead of looking forward to next year.
The Buccaneers, on the other hand, will be getting quarterback Jameis Winston back from injury. They hope that his return will help the team find a morale boost heading into the game on Sunday.
The problem moving forward with both teams though is the fact that they have been absolutely decimated by injuries. Yes, the Bucs will be getting Winston back, but receiver DeSean Jackson and running back Doug Martin probably not play on Sunday.
Moreover, tackle Denar Dotson and center Ali Marpet were both placed on injured reserve for the Bucs. Needless to say, missing four impactful starters on offensive makes it hard for any team to win.
The injury situation is no better for the Packers but at least, they have some players returning to practice. Among these players are linebacker Clay Mathews, defensive tackle Kenny Clark and running back Aaron Jones.
With all the injuries and the heartache, ESPN’s matchup predictor puts the Packers at having a 59.5-percent chance of winning. With key players back in the defense, the Packers may stand a decent chance of stopping the hobbled Bucs offense.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy put it best.
“It’s clear. We have to win,” McCarthy said in an ESPN interview. “That’s what we’re focused on.”
The Packers will need nothing short of a miracle to make it to the playoffs. But, winning against Tampa Bay is a step in the right direction. If more players get healthy, who knows what can happen.
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