Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s predictions for Tampa Bay’s 1 p.m. game Sunday at Green Bay:
FROZEN OUT IN GREEN BAY
Tom Jones, @tomwjones: With Aaron Rodgers out and the Packers struggling, I thought Bucs might have a chance in this one. Then the Packers went into Pittsburgh and showed lots of life in a close loss. It’s the best they’ve been offensively since Rodgers went down. That resurgence, plus my belief that a rusty Jameis Winston won’t be able to produce many points, leads me to think the Bucs come back from Green Bay empty. Prediction: Green Bay 23-13.
Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: It’s December, the time of year when veteran-laden teams that once had Super Bowl aspirations begin to pack it in. I’m talking about Green Bay. The Bucs and a returning Winston seize on the excitement of playing at Lambeau, but they keep their hands out of their mouths for the win. I’m don’t think Brett Hundley can expose the Bucs’ porous secondary. Prediction: Tampa Bay 20-16
BAY OF PIGS
Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: The Bucs have taken better teams in Lambeau Field and lost. It’s a tough place for this franchise to win, with or without Aaron Rodgers under center. Winston returns for the Bucs, but two of their best offensive linemen are out for the season and Doug Martin won’t play due to a concussion. That puts it all right back on Winston’s oft-sore shoulder. His timing will be off. The defense will struggle against Brett Hundley. Maybe the best chance to win in the next five games. Prediction: Green Bay 30-24
PACKERS QB NAMED BRETT?
Greg Auman, @gregauman: It’s a major break not having to face Rodgers, which puts a rare road win very much in play for the Bucs. Hundley played much better last week against Pittsburgh, and over the last seven years, the Bucs are somehow 1-14 against QBs playing in their first 16 career games. I think the slew of injuries keep the Bucs from pulling off the upset. Prediction: Green Bay 28-24
WINSTON'S BACK; STILL MISSING: QUALITY PASS DEFENSE
Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: You could pin the Bucs and Packers’ disappointing seasons on injuries to Winston and Rodgers. There’s some truth to that, but, as often is the case in football, there is no single explanation. If either of these teams had even adequate pass defenses, they’d be in much better shape. The Bucs have allowed 43 pass plays of at least 20 yards; the Packers have allowed 38. Sunday’s game comes down to which team better limits explosive plays. Prediction: Green Bay 23-20
BET AGAINST BRETT
Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: It’s easy to forecast a Green Bay win. The Bucs have a losing road record against the Packers, their defense looked putrid against the Falcons and two starting offensive linemen will be missing. But quarterback Winston returns and I see him outplaying Hundley. The time off gave him a chance to assess his performance and the unit’s strengths and weaknesses, so expect improvement. And Payton Barber will provide a spark in the running game if Martin remains in concussion protocol. This is the Bucs’ last good chance to win a game, and they know it. Prediction: Tampa Bay 20-17.