NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Picks: Why Eagles Can Cover vs. Buccaneers

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Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles. Greg Fiume/Getty Images/AFP

The first NFC playoff battle to kick off in 2022 features the seventh-seed Philadelphia Eagles and second-seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game is a rematch from the Week 6 Buccaneers 28-22 victory. Much has changed since that matchup, as the Eagles went on an unlikely 7-4 run after a 2-4 start. Below, we’ll take a look at the early NFL odds and the best sportsbooks to bet with this week. 

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, January 16, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at Raymond James Stadium

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni quickly changed opinions on his future after he embraced his immensely powerful run game. Many wondered why the Eagles refused to utilize their athletic linemen, dual-threat quarterback, and stable of versatile backs. Even after ignoring the ground game for three of the first five games, the Eagles ascended to the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL after committing to the strategy. 

Philadelphia had to adjust after their loss to Tampa Bay or risk a course that led to cleaning the house in the organization. Tampa quickly grew a 28-7 lead as they dominated with efficiency. The Eagles were able to make the score close as the Bucs relaxed in the late third quarter, but it was hardly in jeopardy as the Bucs had 11 first downs and 186 total yards more than their foe.

Second-year Eagles passer Jalen Hurts was uninspiring, racking up a measly 159 total yards on 26 passes and 10 rushes. The only other player to carry the ball was Miles Sanders' nine rushes. Since then, the Eagles haven't produced less than 324 total yards with their starters.

Hurts turned in a respectable campaign with 3,144 passing yards, 784 rushing yards, and 26 total touchdowns on an offense featuring young talent all over. He's a wildcard who can scare even the defending Super Bowl Champions because of his volatility. Instead of knowing a consistently mediocre passer will provide a limited impact, Hurts can land anywhere on the scale of bad to fantastic at any given moment. 

For a team nursing several major injuries on both sides of the ball, that type of wildcard in the Super Wildcard round is scary. For as great as Tom Brady has been in 2021, he's working with a skeleton crew on offense. He connected with receiver Mike Evans for an excellent two-touchdown performance and throwback Rob Gronkowski game in Week 18. But the offense is relying on Le'Veon Bell, Breshad Perriman, and a handful of youngsters yet to prove themselves in bigger roles.

The health of Tampa Bay could prove extremely important in a hurry. The Buccaneers won in 2020 because of their defensive playmakers, and on top of Lavonte David and Carlton Davis being on injured reserve, pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul is banged up with a shoulder injury. All of a sudden, Tampa Bay's 21st-ranked pass defense looks less prepared, and their third-ranked run defense is less than full-strength.

The strategy for Philadelphia to cover against Tampa Bay is the same as any team facing a Tom Brady team: play keep-away. Controlling the clock, limiting turnovers and negative plays, and having an x-factor who can go supernova is key. The Eagles have that on offense thanks to their chiseled identity.

Philadelphia's star-laden defense will need to show the consistency they had this season as well. They're one of the stingiest units in the NFL thanks to a fantastic back-seven that has masterfully learned to maximize a front four that plays their roles perfectly. If the Bucs can't run the ball, Tom Brady will be harassed often by Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Those two are insanely critical to their chances in a cover and upset. Keep this in mind for your NFL picks.

NFL Picks:

Eagles +9 (-120) with YouWager (visit our YouWager Review)

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Eagles +9 (-120)
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Under 49 (-110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Under 49 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.