The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to improve to 5-1 when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) on Thursday night. The Eagles won their first game of the season since Week 1 on Sunday in Carolina, making a 15-3 comeback. The Buccaneers easily took care of the Dolphins in a 45-17 win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Thursday, October 14, 2021 – 08:20 PM EDT at Lincoln Financial Field
The Buccaneers are a 6.5-point favorite at many of the top sportsbooks. Neither team has been consistent with its week-to-week performance this year, but the Eagles will have their hands full with the Tampa Bay offense. In their last home game, the Eagles allowed the Chiefs to score six touchdowns on seven drives, so it’s not like home-field advantage means much anymore in the NFL.
Buccaneers: Stay the Course on Offense
It was just a year ago when Tom Brady threw five touchdown passes in a 38-31 win over the Chargers. Four days later, he was facing the Bears on Thursday Night Football in Chicago and only threw one touchdown in a 20-19 upset loss. The Eagles will have to hope the quick turnaround leads a 44-year-old Brady to a disappointing game because it is going to be hard to keep up with this offense.
On Sunday against Miami, the Buccaneers only punted once on their 10 drives on the way to scoring 45 points. Brady passed for 411 yards and five touchdowns, the first such game of his career. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans each went over 100 yards and scored two touchdowns. Evans and Brown had all five of the team’s 20-yard completions in the game. The running game is also coming along with Leonard Fournette leading the way with 67 yards on Sunday.
The Eagles have been all over the map defensively this season. One thing the defense has limited has been the big pass plays. The Eagles have allowed eight completions of 20-plus yards. Only the Bills (six) have allowed fewer this season. Three of those were to the Chiefs when Tyreek Hill beat the Eagles for 186 yards and three touchdowns in Week 4. But for the most part, the defense does not allow big pass plays.
Of course, if any quarterback is comfortable with taking shorter throws and taking his time to go down the field, it is Brady. The increased rushing production over the last couple of games should help in this one as the Eagles have struggled to stop the run this year. They came into Week 5 allowing the most rushing yards in the league and they gave up a 100-yard game to Chuba Hubbard in Carolina. This could be a bigger game for Fournette instead of Evans and Brown needing to go over 100 yards.
The Buccaneers have protected so well all season while the Eagles have a modest pass rush. Tampa Bay is likely to still be without tight end Rob Gronkowski (ribs), but they still have plenty of weapons there with Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard.
Eagles: This Could Get Ugly
If you are an Eagles fan annoyed with coach Nick Sirianni refusing to run the ball, then this may not be a fun matchup for you. The Buccaneers have had a great run defense for years and most teams abandon the run immediately and pass against them, especially with so many injuries in the secondary for Tampa Bay right now.
So, this could be yet another game where Miles Sanders barely carries the ball, and Jalen Hurts attempts a lot of short passes in an attempt to generate YAC. The Eagles tried this in Carolina, and it was a disaster for most of the game. It took Hurts over 30 pass plays to throw for over 100 yards. He somehow managed to complete 10 of his first 17 passes for just 34 yards, a seemingly impossible figure with some of the fastest receivers in the game at his disposal.
The Eagles have looked good at times offensively this year, but it really is just opponent-based for them. Playing the Falcons and Chiefs is easier than playing the 49ers and Panthers. Tampa Bay will give up its share of yards, but points are harder to come by. Tampa Bay has held its last two opponents to 17 points each. The Bucs have allowed 25 passes of 20-plus yards this year, tied with Miami for the most in the league. It will be up to Hurts to hit some big plays with rookie wideout DeVonta Smith to open things up for his scrambles and the few runs play the Eagles are going to attempt in this matchup.
On the plus side for the Eagles, they intercepted Sam Darnold three times on Sunday after having two takeaways in their first four games combined. But this is Tampa Bay, a veteran-coached team with an all-star offense. I expect the Buccaneers will score plenty of points in this one while the Eagles fail to keep up.
But even a 24-17 final is good enough for a cover, and the Buccaneers have scored at least 24 points in 21 of their 25 games with Brady at quarterback. I’ll take the defending champs for my NFL picks to start Week 6.
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