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Baker Mayfield of the Bucs aims for improved performance during his most recent trip to Lambeau Field

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield is visiting Lambeau Field in December for a third straight year, each time with a different team.

This season’s version of Mayfield could give the Green Bay Packers the most problems.

Mayfield threw four interceptions in Cleveland’s 24-22 loss to Green Bay on Christmas Day 2021 that marked his second-to-last appearance with the Browns, who took him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. He went 12 of 21 for 111 yards with a touchdown and an interception on Dec. 19 of last year as the Los Angeles Rams lost 24-12.

He has played at Lambeau enough to know what to expect when his Bucs (6-7) visit the Packers (6-7) on Sunday.

“I’ve only played there in December, so yeah, it’s kind of hit or miss with the weather and what you’re going to get,” Mayfield said. “Guys just have to be prepared for the grass. That’s something I learned pretty quickly – it’s slick. This late in the year, obviously it’s not in the best condition. It’s a little bit longer, so you’ve got to be ready for that.”

Mayfield threw a go-ahead touchdown pass in the final minute of a 29-25 victory at Atlanta that enabled the Bucs to grab a share of the NFC South lead. The Packers are clinging to the NFC’s third and final wild-card spot after losing 24-22 to the New York Giants on Monday, a defeat that snapped a three-game winning streak.

Tampa Bay and Green Bay are among six NFC teams with 6-7 records, making the postseason implications of Sunday’s game apparent.

“We’ve just got to be ready to play playoff football,” Packers defensive lineman TJ Slaton said. “That’s how I look at it.”

Boosting the Bucs’ playoff hopes with a third straight win would help Mayfield erase his unpleasant Lambeau Field memories.

“It’s a historical place,” Mayfield said. “I grew up a huge Brett Favre fan, so the first time I got to go up there, I just kind of took it all in pregame. When it comes down to it, it’s still a football field when the game comes. It’s a special place to play and a great opportunity for us in this end-of-season push that we have coming on. They’re in a similar situation as us, so it’s going to be a good matchup.”

ON THE RUN

Tampa Bay finished last in the NFL in rushing a year ago and is ranked 29th in that category this year with 90 yards per game, but the Bucs have improved in that regard lately.

The Bucs ran for a season-best 148 yards at Atlanta for their third straight game with 125 or more, the team’s longest such stretch since 2015.

Green Bay’s defense has allowed at least 140 yards rushing in five straight games. The Packers will be trying to rebound after giving up 209 yards rushing to the Giants, the fourth game in which they’ve yielded at least 200.

“We’ve just got to do our job every single play,” Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell said. “It’s not rocket science. It’s not hard. You’ve just got to do your job. That’s it.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Tampa Bay’s Rachaad White rushed for a season-high 102 yards against the Falcons. He also scored on a 31-yard reception and finished with a career-best 135 yards from scrimmage.

The second-year pro ranks fourth among running backs in scrimmage yards with 1,164, behind San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey (1,614), Jacksonville’s Travis Etienne (1,189) and Buffalo’s James Cook (1,180).

“He knows when to run it in there and when to bounce it out,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “The maturation process for him has been really good.”

BOUNCING BACK

Both teams recovered from slow starts to work their way into playoff contention.

The Bucs lost four straight games to fall to 3-5 but have gone 3-2 since, including wins over Carolina and Atlanta the last two weeks. Green Bay had its own four-game skid to drop to 2-5 before winning four of its last six games.

ROOKIE RECEIVERS

Green Bay’s Jordan Love has been throwing primarily to rookies and second-year pros in his first season as a starter. Many of those newcomers have stepped up.

In the loss to the Giants, Malik Heath became the sixth Packers rookie with a touchdown reception this season. That’s the most by any team in the Super Bowl era, excluding the 1987 strike season.

SHINING IN DECEMBER

Green Bay’s loss to the Giants dropped coach Matt LaFleur to 16-1 in December. The Packers haven’t lost a December home game since falling 31-0 to the Detroit Lions on Dec. 30, 2018.

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AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall contributed to this report.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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