We’re in the midst of wild card weekend in the NFL and that brings us a matchup down in the Sunshine State. The sixth-seeded Philadelphia Eagles are on the road as they make the trip to face the third-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday afternoon.
Philadelphia closed the regular season with a 51-26 loss to Dallas at home last Saturday in their previous contest. Tampa Bay whipped Carolina 41-17 at home in their regular-season finale last Sunday in their most recent game. The teams have split 16 previous meetings in the regular season with the Buccaneers taking the last three, including a 28-22 road victory on October 14, 2021 in the most recent matchup. They’ve split four previous playoff meetings with the Buccaneers winning the most recent meeting on the road, 27-10, in the NFC Championship Game back on January 19, 2003.
Philadelphia Eagles Look to Spring UpsetPhiladelphia won four straight games down the stretch in the regular season before getting hammered by Dallas in their regular-season finale last Saturday. The Eagles finished the season 9-8 and look to pull off an upset in this one. Against Dallas, Philadelphia took a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the game and stood even at 17 with 3:40 to play in the first half before giving up two touchdowns in the final 1:45 of the half to trail 30-17 at the half. The Eagles got no closer than 10 the rest of the way. Philadelphia was outgained 475-315 in total offense while each team finished with 22 first downs. The Eagles committed the game’s only turnover, which helped negate their 32:23 to 27:37 advantage in time of possession.
For the year, the Eagles are 25th in the league in passing offense with 200.2 yards per game and 1st in rushing offense with 159.7 yards per contest. Philadelphia stands 12th in the league in scoring offense with 26.1 points per game while they are 18th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 22.6 points per contest. Jalen Hurts has completed 265 of 432 passes for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns against nine interceptions while getting sacked 26 times. He leads the team on the ground with 139 carries for 784 yards and 10 scores. Miles Sanders contributes 137 carries for 754 yards. Jordan Howard (86 carries, 406 yards, three TD), Boston Scott (87 carries, 373 yards, seven TD) and Kenneth Gainwell (68 carries, 291 yards, five TD) are solid contributors as well. DeVonta Smith leads the team with 64 receptions for 916 yards plus five scores. Dallas Goedert (56 receptions, 830 yards, four TD), Quez Watkins (43 grabs, 647 yards, TD), Jalen Reagor (33 catches, 299 yards, two TD) and Gainwell (33 receptions, 253 yards, TD) each exceeded the 250-yard mark in receiving yards. Jake Elliott has hit all 44 extra-point attempts and 30 of 33 field-goal attempts with a long of 58 this season.
On Thursday, defensive end Josh Sweat (illness) did not practice. Meanwhile, RB Miles Sanders (hand), LB Shaun Bradley (stinger), tackles Andre Dillard (knee) and Lane Johnson (knee/rest) along with guard Nate Herbig (ankle) were all limited. Sanders is expected to play. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on their status leading to kickoff.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Try to Take First Step Toward Title DefenseTampa Bay rolled over a hapless Carolina team that seemingly mailed it in over the second half of the season to finish the season on a positive note. The Buccaneers finished the regular season 13-4 and coasted to the NFC South crown in the process. Against Carolina in the finale, Tampa Bay trailed 7-0 after the opening quarter and held a 10-7 halftime advantage before rolling in the second half. The Buccaneers outscored the Panthers 31-10 in the second half en route to the victory. Tampa Bay outgained Carolina 409-317 in total offense, picked up 21 first downs while allowing 18 and forced a pair of turnovers while not committing one. Those numbers far overcame a 35:05 to 24:55 margin in time of possession in the contest.
On the season, the Buccaneers lead the league with an average of 307.6 yards per contest through the air and 26th in the league in rushing offense with 98.4 yards per contest on the ground. Tampa Bay is second in the league in scoring offense as they average 30.1 points per game while they are ranked 5th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 20.8 points per contest. Tom Brady has completed 485 of 719 passes for 5,316 yards with 43 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Blaine Gabbert has hit seven of 11 for 67 yards in mop-up duty. Leonard Fournette leads the ground game with 180 carries for 812 yards plus eight scores. Ronald Jones II (101 carries, 428 yards, four TD) and Ke’Shawn Vaughn (36 carries, 180 yards, two TD) are next in line in the ground game. In the passing game, Chris Godwin leads the team with 98 receptions for 1,103 yards and five scores this season. Mike Evans (74 grabs, 1035 yards, 14 TD), Fournette (69 grabs, 454 yards, two TD), Rob Gronkowski (55 catches, 802 yards, six TD) and Tyler Johnson (36 catches, 360 yards) each have more than 350 receiving yards on the season. Ryan Succop has connected on 56 of 59 extra points and 25 of 30 field goal attempts with a long of 48.
Linebacker Anthony Nelson (ankle), running back Ronald Jones Jr. (ankle) and wide receiver Cyril Grayson (hamstring) did not practice. Linebackers Shaq Barrett (knee) along with Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), cornerbacks Jamel Dean (hamstring), Sean Murphy-Bunting (hamstring) and Rashard Robinson (groin), wide receivers Mike Evans (hamstring), Breshad Perriman (hip) and Justin Watson (quad) plus center Ryan Jensen (shoulder) all were limited in practice Thursday. Fournette will not be activated and Godwin is out for the year. Keep an eye out for the updated injury report coming closer to kickoff.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
As Pat Toomey used to say, on any given Sunday, any team is capable of beating another. Once you get to the postseason though, you see a good chunk of the uncertainty go out the window. Sure, the Eagles have gotten to the postseason but if you look at the teams they beat this season, they were led by the following quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Jake Fromm, Garrett Gilbert, Jared Goff, Taylor Heinicke, Matt Ryan, Trevor Siemian and Zach Wilson. That’s hardly a murderer’s row of opposing quarterbacks. When these teams met in Philadelphia back in week six, the Buccaneers were up 28-7 before the Eagles scored a couple of late touchdowns to earn the backdoor cover. The Eagles do their best work offensively via the ground game but they are facing the Buccaneers’ third-ranked run defense. Throw in that Hurts is dealing with an ankle injury, that this game is in Tampa and that the Buccaneers are primed to defend their title and you have to give the edge to the hosts here.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Eagles come into this game having seen the over hit in 10 of their 17 games this season. On the road, the Eagles saw the under hit in five of their nine games this year. Tampa Bay has seen the over hit in nine of their 17 regular-season contests. At home this season, the Buccaneers went over the mark in five of their eight contests. We saw the first meeting this season between the teams saw a combined 50 points, though that was on the strength of two Eagles’ touchdowns in the final 17 minutes of the game. We’ve seen Tampa Bay average 33.25 points at home this season so if they stick near the norm, it won’t take a ton of points from the Eagles to go over the mark. Look for this one to go over the total.