The Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet for the 104th time on Sunday, Nov. 24, in Tampa Bay. The first meeting between these teams was held in 1934, and it was very close to being called a tie, as the score was 26–26. They’ve since played hundreds of games together, and although they’ve only met 76 times, it’s clear that this game is important to both clubs. Here’s why the betting lines are so close, and it might just be the most exciting matchup of the NFL this year.
Record-Setting Season For Both Teams
It’s no secret that this year is shaping up to be a record-breaking season for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, the two teams tied for the best regular-season record in NFL history with 18 wins and only two losses. (The NFL has changed the way it records statistics, so this is comparing apples to apples.)
The Packers were also incredibly consistent all year long, going 15–1 in the second half of the season, which was good for first in the NFL in scoring (38.5 points per game) and total offense (531.1 yards per game). Tampa Bay had to go through an entire overhaul of its roster after the 2018 season, so this year is sure to be one of transition for the team. It’s also worth noting that the record-breaking season for both teams was a year before the Super Bowl, which might point to the fact that these teams are getting closer because they know that the other is watching.
The Evolution of the Game
One of the most important factors to consider when placing a wager is the nature of the game itself. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it’s clear that people are tuning in to see the results of this historic rivalry. The nature of the game has changed significantly since the early years, when the NFL was comprised of just two teams — the Pirates and the Wolverines. (Yes, that’s right. The NFL didn’t have a Dallas team at the time and didn’t start playing their current season schedule until after World War II.)
One of the most significant changes to the game was the introduction of the forward pass, which was first used in 1912. Teams were only allowed to advance the ball five yards, and players had to keep their hands above their heads. The pass made it possible for the average person to attend a football game, and that expansion led to the popularity explosion of the sport.
Another huge change was the introduction of the touchdown in 1921. Prior to this point, a touchdown was worth two points, meaning that a team could score as many as 14 points in one quarter. The extra point changed the game completely. Suddenly, scores became more important than ever, and it soon became one of the most popular ways for fans to show their loyalty to their favorite team. (For an in-depth look at scoring in the NFL, check out this article from Sports Illustrated.)
If you’re ever going to wager on an NFL game, scoring basics are important to look at. The point spread determines how many points you’ll win or lose, and the betting line is just a line of spread betting. (For the record, the betting line for the game between the Packers and Buccaneers doesn’t have either team favored by more than two points.) However, both teams are 13.5-point favorites, so it’s clear that people think this game is more competitive than the spread would have you believe. (You can also use this as a guide to determine which teams are closer in actuality. Normally, teams with closer scores have lower betting odds. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a good rule of thumb.)
The Growth of Television And The Internet
One of the biggest differences between today’s NFL and the early years of the league is the way games are spread to TV viewers. Back then, newspapers would write up games as they happened, and fans would have to wait until the next morning to see how their favorite team did — if they did well, fans would happily wager on their success in the next game; if they lost, well, maybe they’d take it as a sign and rethink some of their actions.
These days, games are often broadcast live on TV, which means that fans can see the action as it happens. This increase in the number of people watching TV has led to the growth of fantasy football, as more and more people are playing against each other online. (For more on fantasy football, check out this article from USA Today.)
Nowadays, games also have a significant following on social media, which means that fans can sometimes get updates on breaking news or scores as they happen. Thanks to these technologies, it’s never been easier for fans to keep up with their team, which is important, because as we know, the majority of fans are usually quite passionate about the teams they support. (Yes, this can sometimes lead to problems…like the one between the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks in 2014, where tempers flared and tempers eventually boiled over into violence. Thankfully, this didn’t happen in this case, as the two teams eventually settled their conflict and got on with their lives — although, quite frankly, I don’t blame either side for wanting to knock the other one off their perch. This is why we can’t have nice things.)
The last thing you want as a gambler is a team you can’t beat. It’s disheartening to lose money on a bet, especially when you put in the time and effort to make sure the game is fair. One of the reasons why this game is so close is because the two teams are pretty evenly matched. (Yes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the original six teams in the NFL, and they’ve been playing for more than a century — although, quite frankly, they haven’t been doing all that well.)
Despite having a competitive record, the Packers have the slight edge in terms of head-to-head play. Tampa Bay is 2–8 against Green Bay in their history. The last time these teams played was in 2017, and Aaron Rodgers broke a collarbone in the game, thus ending his season. (Even then, it was close. The score was 45–40, and it took seven overtimes to settle the contest. Thank goodness for instant replay and its ability to right some wrongs. This is also one of the few cases where the spread and the over/under have gotten it wrong. Tampa Bay had 21 points scored against it, but only 18.75 were needed to win the game. The over/under was set at 48.75.)
Despite the competitive record, the Packers have actually been beat by the spread more often than not. That five-yard rule mentioned earlier is still in effect. While the average score in these games has been 28–30 points, the underdogs have won 24–30 percent of the times. (You can’t always assume that because a game is close, it’s won by the underdogs. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. For an example, check out this article from ESPN.)
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a fan of one of these teams or are considering placing a wager on the game. Without further ado, here’s a quick recap of what you should know: