If Tom Brady is going to add to his league record of six Super Bowl rings, he’s going to need to defy the odds and the inhospitable cold of a Milwaukee winter this weekend. Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, a tough place to win at the best of times, is expected to provide a snowy welcome for Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The elements, and the considerable firepower of an offense toting Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Aaron Jones among others, present an imposing challenge for a Bucs side making their first championship game appearance since 2003.
There were times this season when the history-making former Patriots QB looked to have bitten off more than he could chew trying to make Tampa a Super Bowl team. As the season drew on and he attuned to his surroundings, the Bucs got better and better though, and last week’s win in New Orleans showed they can win on the road when it matters. With weapons such as Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette in the backfield, the visitors can hold their own if weather dictates a more run-oriented game. Should Brady take to the air instead, he can rely on Mike Evans, Chris Green and fellow ex-Pat Rob Gronkowski, who combined for 27 touchdowns this season.
Favorites in terms of season record (13-3), home advantage and with the bookmakers, the Pack are still somehow the supporting act here in terms of media attention. That might suit the unassuming Rodgers, who is chasing a second career Super Bowl. Six years Brady’s junior at a sprightly 37, the California native enjoyed a productive season despite a receiving corps cursed by drops. Supported by Adams, tight end Robert Tonyan and, in Jones, one of the league’s best all-purpose running backs, the two-time league MVP does need to look out for an aggressive Bucs defense. When these sides met in Tampa back in Week Six, Rodgers struggled to handle their blitz and was handed a 38-10 pasting for his troubles.
These teams are evenly matched in most categories, with veteran QBs, versatile running games and elite receivers on offense, and strong pass rushes on the other side of the ball. It will make for a close-run game and you can’t rule out any team led by a fit, firing Brady. But home advantage, so key in postseason contests, is worth double when you’re Green Bay and it’s literally freezing. Brady, who played for a couple of decades in Boston, will be used to it. His supporting cast, not so much - so we like the +115 odds for the hosts to lead from pillar to post here.