Last Sunday, the Buccaneers beat a team that had beaten them twice during the 2020 regular season. That helps the Buccaneers realize that, despite blowing out the Packers in Week Six, a different outcome could happen in the NFC Championship rematch.
“It was the same thing as the Saints last week, having beaten us twice [and] pretty badly, once,” coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Wednesday. “We won that ballgame. You can’t fall into that trap of what happened last time. They’re a much, much better football team [and] we’re a much better football team. Both [teams are] very different right now, so you better take care of today’s work each and every day.”
As a result, the Buccaneers won’t be underestimating the Packers.
“We put that in people’s ears already,” linebacker Lavonte David told reporters. “This is a whole different football team that we’re about to face and we’re a different team in our own right. At the same time, this is a different stage and a different level. That was like . . . in October or whatever it was — that was a long time ago. We’ve got to put that past us. They’ve got a lot of weapons back. It’s going to be a different ballgame. A lot is at stake right here, so we’ve definitely got to forget about what happened that game the last time we played them and focus on the right now – that’s us getting better at practice today. When Sunday comes, we’ve just got to be able to execute at a very high level.”
The Buccaneers are confident that they can.
“I think we’re better offensively,” receiver Mike Evans told reporters. “Our defense has been really good all year. I just think we’re better offensively. We’ve been getting more time in — that was our sixth game together with no preseason, [shorter] training camp [and] no OTAs. We’re just getting better and better each week as the season goes on. I just feel like we’re better offensively. Our defense has been strong all year.”
The defense has been strong, and it found an even higher level against the Saints. Defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr., who helped turn the game around with a strip of New Orleans tight end Jared Cook, realizes it won’t be easy.
“They still have a great offense,” Winfield said of the Packers. “It’s the same offense. . . . It is difficult to beat the same team twice, so we know going in that we really have to prepare well, practice well [and] make sure we’re still studying these guys extremely well because they have a great offense. Going into this game, that game before doesn’t matter anymore. The game last week [does not] matter anymore. We’ve just got to know to move forward and get ready to prepare to go out there and play these guys.”
The other big difference between Week Six and Championship Week is that the rematch happens in Green Bay, where it definitely will be cold and quite possibly will be snowing.
“I don’t really consider 28 degrees cold,” Arians told reporters. “I grew up in the north [and] we’ve got a lot of guys that [have] played in Green Bay and played in colleges up north. The weather won’t affect the ballgame — I don’t think — at all.”
We’ll find out in four days. And, however it turns out, hopefully it will be a great game.