Old Rivals Reunite
Despite a loss at home last weekend, the Green Bay Packers haven't regretted handing over the offense to a new quarterback this season.
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' play-calling is any indication, it's pretty clear they feel the same way about their own similar situation.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Buccaneers -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Packers +1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers look to bounce back from their prime-time defeat Sunday when they visit Tampa Bay, which is coming off an overtime victory that featured 67 pass attempts by Brian Griese.
Green Bay (2-1) has been rewarded for sticking with Rodgers after Brett Favre came out of retirement in July, as Rodgers led the Packers to victories in his first two starts.
Even though he was held without a touchdown pass in a 27-16 loss to unbeaten Dallas on Sunday night, Rodgers threw for 290 yards, ran for a score and remained without an interception this season. He's seventh in the NFL with a 102.9 passer rating.
Still, the Packers were frustrated with their performance against the Cowboys, as they allowed 453 yards of offense, including 217 rushing yards. Their own offense had to settle for three field goals of less than 40 yards.
"It was a big game, it was a great measuring stick for our football team," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "And I'll tell you exactly what I told them, the Dallas Cowboys are farther ahead than we are right now, and that's the facts, and it's Week 3. How much farther ahead, we'll answer that question. We have work to do."
They'll have to do it without one of their defensive mainstays after cornerback Al Harris injured his spleen Sunday. Harris has started every game for the Packers since joining the team for the 2003 season, but he may miss the rest of the year.
While cornerback Charles Woodson helped hold Dallas' Terrell Owens to two catches for 17 yards Sunday, the Packers allowed a pair of big plays to Cowboys receiver Miles Austin after Harris left the game.
"Anytime you lose guys, it's hard, but you expect other guys to step up," Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders said. "But certainly losing Al, a guy of that caliber, that hurts. Anytime you lose a guy like that, it's not good."
Tampa Bay (2-1) hardly needed more encouragement to keep throwing. The Buccaneers passed on 80 percent of their offensive plays in a 27-24 overtime win at Chicago on Sunday, as Griese set a franchise record for pass attempts in going 38-of-67 for 407 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Perhaps most impressively, his offensive line did not allow a sack.
"We're excited about our line; we've said that since the beginning of camp," Bucs coach Jon Gruden told his team's official Web site. "We're the youngest group in football and we think we have the makings there to be outstanding."
The unit certainly helped Griese, who supplanted Jeff Garcia as the starter after Week 1. He threw for just 160 yards in a 24-9 win over Atlanta on Sept. 14, but more that doubled that total Sunday.
With extra motivation to beat the Bears, who traded him in the offseason, Griese led an 11-play, 79-yard drive in the final two minutes that was capped by the tying touchdown. He then orchestrated a 12-play, 90-yard drive in overtime to set up the winning field goal at Soldier Field.
"This is huge," Gruden said. "We lost a difficult game at the end of regulation (24-20 on Sept. 7) in New Orleans, and we didn't want to lose another in a similar fashion."
Griese directed a similar rally to beat the Packers last season, leading the Bears to a 27-20 win in Green Bay on Oct. 7. Chicago trailed 20-10 late in the third quarter, but Griese threw two touchdown passes, including the winning score with 2:05 left.
Griese, in fact, has not lost in three career starts against the Packers. He beat them the last time Tampa Bay and Green Bay met Sept. 25, 2005, a 17-16 Bucs win at Lambeau Field.
The former division rivals faced off twice a season through 2001, but the 2005 victory was their only meeting in the last four years.
Green Bay's only win in six visits to Raymond James Stadium came in their last trip, 20-13 on Nov. 16, 2003.
BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME
All games in this series since 1992
TAMPA BAY is 12-10 against the spread versus GREEN BAY since 1992
GREEN BAY is 16-8 straight up against TAMPA BAY since 1992
17 of 24 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
All games played at TAMPA BAY since 1992
TAMPA BAY is 6-6 against the spread versus GREEN BAY since 1992
TAMPA BAY is 7-5 straight up against GREEN BAY since 1992
8 of 12 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
KEY INJURIES FOR THIS GAME
[CB] Elbert Mack expected to miss one game. - Suspension - 09/17/08
[CB] Aqib Talib left last game, "?" - Hamstring - 09/15/08
[QB] Jeff Garcia missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 09/10/08
[TE] Jerramy Stevens is probable - Suspension Served - 09/15/08
[WR] Maurice Stovall is upgraded to probable - Shoulder - 09/15/08
[OG] Davin Joseph expected to miss at least 4 weeks - Foot - 08/19/08
[DE] Gaines Adams is "?" - Ribs - 09/17/08
[WR] Joey Galloway is expected to miss - Foot - 09/17/08
[QB] Brian Griese expected to start - None - 09/15/08
[RB] Carnell Williams is expected to miss first 6 games. - Knee - 08/28/08
[OG] Junius Coston IR - Knee - 08/30/08
[TE] Tory Humphrey is "?". - Knee - 09/18/08
[SS] Atari Bigby is doubtful - Hamstring - 09/17/08
[FB] Korey Hall left last game, "?". - Knee - 09/14/08
[C] Scott Wells missed last game, %27?%27 - Back - 09/14/08
(!) [RB] Ryan Grant is probable - Hamstring - 09/17/08
[DT] Justin Harrell is expected to miss first six games - Back - 08/25/08
[OG] Josh Sitton expected to miss at least 4 weeks - Knee - 08/26/08
[LS] JJ Jansen IR - Knee - 08/30/08
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