It's a clash of superstar quarterbacks, but NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers says defense will be key if his Green Bay Packers are to steal a march on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa on Sunday.
"I think it's really important for our defense to come out and have a real solid performance and, on the road, set the tone for us," said Rodgers, who knows he'll be up against a formidable Tampa Bay defensive squad.
"Their defense is fantastic," Rodgers said. "Two great guys inside. Great front. Really solid back end. And a great guy calling it. Recipe for a lot of potential stopping people consistently."
It's Tampa Bay's defense, rather than any offensive fireworks from seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady, that has keyed the Bucs' 2-0 start to the season.
Rodgers and the Packers, meanwhile, head to Florida coming off a 27-10 victory over the Chicago Bears, aiming to build on that momentum after opening the season with a 23-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Tampa has proved inhospitable to Rodgers in the past. In three of his four career games there he has thrown multiple interceptions and been sacked at least three times.
In two games there he has completed less than 50% of his passing attempts.
That includes a 2020 regular-season defeat in which Rodgers completed just 16 of 35 passing attempts with two turnovers and absorbed four sacks.
Brady and the Bucs also beat the Packers in the NFC championship game that season on the way to a Super Bowl title.
Two weeks into the 2022 campaign, Rodgers noted, the Bucs defense ranks first in sacks, first in points allowed and has forced six turnovers.
But he said the Packers can't afford to be harried into mistakes.
"This is a stout defense, but we have the right concepts and the right schemes to move the ball against anybody, a lot of times we just get in our own way, that's what we’ve done too many times the first two weeks," Rodgers said.
Elsewhere this week three of the top four scoring offenses through the first two weeks play division rivals on the road.
The Buffalo Bills, who lead the league in points scored with 72 and have given up a stingy 17 points on defense, visit the 2-0 Miami Dolphins in a clash of unbeaten teams.
The Detroit Lions, who have scored at least 35 points in each of their first two games, visit the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles -- who have topped 450 yards of total offense in each of their first two games -- take on the Commanders in Washington.
- Dolphins take aim at Bills -
The Bills will arrive in Miami off a 41-7 drubbing of Tennessee on Monday night.
Buffalo's offense, led by quarterback Josh Allen, has been all but unstoppable with four offensive touchdowns in each of their first two games.
Defensively the Bills have made improvements on the squad that finished number one on the NFL last season, but Buffalo can expect to be tested on both sides of the ball by the surprising Dolphins.
Miami appeared headed to a blowout defeat last week but erased a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Baltimore Ravens 42-38.
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw four of his six touchdown passes in the final period.
Suddenly the Dolphins, who last reached the playoffs in 2016, look like a factor in the AFC East and they'll be out to prove it by ending a seven-game losing streak against division rivals Buffalo.