The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, where the Packers are (-3/-3.5) point spread favorites. Is there any value to be had in the NFL betting markets in this epic playoff matchup between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers? Let’s break down the various lines between the Buccaneers and Packers and see if we can make any profitable predictions.
Buccaneers vs. Packers lines and spread analysis and predictions
Yards per play analysis
From a yards per play (YPP) perspective, the Buccaneers are slightly better than the Packers (+0.5 points). I think it’s defensible to say the coaching matchup is about even. However, you have to give Green Bay points for having Rodgers, as he’s been the best QB in the league this year. Combine those three factors with home-field advantage, and this spread makes sense to me.
I did bet Tampa Bay (+4) already, as I didn’t foresee the Buccaneers’ line getting any better against the Packers. The Green Bay offense is somewhat making me regret that wager. They rank first in the league in early down success rate, second in overall passing success rate, and third in overall rushing success rate. In short, they’re outstanding.
The Buccaneers don’t stack up to the Packers in terms of early-down success rate — they rank 16th in rushing, 17th in passing, and 15th overall. Tampa Bay does rank seventh during their last six games; however, Green Bay ranks first in the same time frame.
While I already bet Tampa Bay (+4), I have some reservations. If this Green Bay offense isn’t the best in the league, it’s no worse than second. I expect Green Bay to get out to an early lead while Tampa Bay struggles out of the gate. If you see Tampa Bay at (+7.5) live, that seems like a good bet to take.
I made four more bets on this game: Green Bay first quarter spread (-0.5), first quarter over 10, first half over 24, and Packers first half spread (-2.5). The Packers do a fantastic job of scoring in the early stages. My prediction is for the Packers to get out to a fast start and force the Buccaneers to keep up. That, in turn, will increase the tempo, which leads to a positive scoring environment.
As for the first half spread and total, I like the line I was getting for the total (24 at -125) as both the Buccaneers and Packers are in the top seven in second-quarter scoring, with Green Bay being first in the NFL. I bet Green Bay on the spread because they’re phenomenal in the second quarter. I think that will buoy the Packers to covering the first half spread against the Buccaneers.
Buccaneers vs. Packers player prop lines and predictions
The lines for the Packers and Buccaneers touchdown scorers are mostly efficient, in my opinion. One angle I might look to exploit is the absence of Antonio Brown. Brown is considered a game-time decision. If he is out, I will look to bet the over on receiving yards for Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
The Packers do have a good secondary, but my prediction is the Buccaneers lean on their two best players to keep up with this vaunted Green Bay offense. Even if Brown plays, I still like the over on both receivers’ receiving yards prop.
I think there is some intrigue with the Ronald Jones touchdown prop. Leonard Fournette was the more productive back between the two, but Jones was the goal-line back. He had just four fewer carries than Fournette despite playing less than half the snaps.
The Buccaneers’ running back has a touchdown line as high as (+220) against the Packers, which is more than good enough. Tommy Garrett has Jones ranked second among all RBs this weekend, which gives me confidence in his touchdown prop.
There isn’t much else I like aside from those props. I would look to some long odds first touchdown scorers for both teams if you want more props to bet. Players like Cameron Brate, Tyler Johnson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Jamaal Williams offer the best payout for this kind of bet. I suggest you either place multiple small wagers on guys with longer odds or fewer substantial stakes on the players with shorter odds.
A rare +EV parlay
I need to point out that FanDuel lets you parlay a quarterback’s passing yards over with one (or more) of his wide receiver’s receiving yards over. You can’t do that at other sportsbooks as it’s correlated and positive expected value. If you have FanDuel, I strongly suggest taking advantage of it.
Savor this matchup, as it’s rare we get two QBs playing at this high level against each other this late in the postseason. I hope you cash all of your bets, but I hope you don’t let them spoil this epic matchup as a pure football fan. I hope you enjoyed all of my Buccaneers vs. Packers line and spread analysis and predictions. Good luck this weekend!
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