Welp, we knew when the schedule came out that the toughest part of the season would be the first three weeks and despite Tampa Bay’s dominant win over the NFC South defending champions, the New Orleans Saints, there’s no time to celebrate as the Super Bowl Champs come to town, the Eagles of Philadelphia.
Tale of the Tape
|Total Offense||2||29 (tied)|
|Points Scored||1 (tied)||23|
Bucs Offense vs. Eagles Defense
It’s one thing to do it against the Saints defense, which was decent but not great last season. It’s entirely another to do it against the Eagles, who road their defense to their first Lombardi trophy. Philadelphia didn’t seem to miss a beat, holding the normally potent Falcons to just 12 points and 299 yds of total offense. Matt Ryan was sacked 4 times, hit 14 times and experienced 8 tackles for loss. Needless to say, Philadelphia lived in the Falcon backfield.
Tampa Bay, of course, had none of those problems against the Saints, who didn’t sack Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and only hit the journeyman quarterback twice. It would be a major surprise if the Bucs can duplicate their unstoppable effort against this defense, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to do anything against Philly.
This matchup will tell us how improved the Bucs are on offense. Of course, Tampa Bay might be without star receiver and former Eagle Desean Jackson, who is nursing a sore shoulder and going through concussion protocol.
Eagles Offense vs. Bucs Defense
As much as the Saints defense isn’t the Eagles offense, the Eagles offense is certainly not led by a future Hall of Famer. Yes, Nick Foles was the Super Bowl MVP and in his career against Tampa Bay, he is 2-0 lifetime with a 111.1 QB Rating, 5 TDs, and 0 Ints, but he’s not Drew Brees. He’s also not the Eagles starter, as that’s Carson Wentz, whose still recovering from last season’s knee injury. The Eagles will also be without their top receiver Alshon Jeffries, who continues to recover from surgery for a torn rotator cuff. Looks like the Bucs might be a little lucky here, as both appear to be penciled in to return next week.
In Jeffries absence, Nelson Agholor and Zak Ertz have had to try and pick up the slack in the receiving game. They combined for 81 yds on 20 targets. The running game is led by former Dolphin Jay Ajayi, who pounded out 62 yds against the Atlanta defense but did get into the end zone twice.
Foles had a dreadful outing in the opener, sacked twice, he connected on just 55% of his passes for only 117 yds and threw an interception.
Needless to say, if the Bucs can’t stop this offense, they aren’t stopping anyone this season.
Bryan Anger punted just once for the Bucs on Sunday, while the Bucs kicker curse continued at least for one more week as Chandler Catanzaro was 2-for-3 on his field goal attempts, missing a 44-yd attempt that would have iced the game away for Tampa Bay. The Bucs Shaun Wilson got one opportunity at a kick return and raced 29 yds, while Deshaun Jackson and Adam Humphries didn’t get to do much punt return wise.
The Eagles counter with Jake Elliot, who nailed his only FG attempt and Cameron Johnston, who averaged a whopping 52 yds a punt. Sheldon Gibson averaged 21 yds a kick return while Darren Sproles averaged just under 10 yds a punt return.
- Eagles lead the series 8-6 and have won 3 of the last 4 meetings.
- The last time these teams met was in Jameis Winston’s 2015 rookie season. Winston threw a career-high 5 touchdown passes against Philly in a 45-17 blowout.
- Nick Foles has won his last 4 road starts with 9 TDs, 1 INT and a 111.8 QB Rating
Many wondered if this might be the only winnable game during the Winston suspension, which is quite odd considering the Eagles were the Super Bowl champions, but this most certainly is a winnable game for Tampa Bay, believe it or not. With Wentz out another week, the Bucs defense must be able to get pressure on Nick Foles and stifle the Eagles offense. As the heat of the mid-day sun boils down on the Eagles, the Bucs need to take advantage of their conditioning in the Florida climate.
Of course, injuries are factors for both teams, as the Bucs might be without several defensive starters on a defense that’s already struggling.
While it’s highly unlikely the Bucs will be able to duplicate the effort from last Sunday against one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Bucs still need to put some points on the board. Get yourself into the 20’s and you stand a good shot at winning the ballgame.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 26, Philadelphia 17