Wed. Feb 28th, 2024
NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoffs-Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Bucs
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The two teams square off on Monday Night Football to see who moves on to 3-0

The Tampa Bay Bucs are hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in prime time on Monday night as both teams will be battling for the right to be 3-0 through three weeks – just like everyone predicted would happen.

For the Bucs, it’s about proving they are deserving of their undefeated record and continuing to silence the many, many critics and doubters they had throughout the off-season. For the Eagles, it’s about getting back to level of team they were when they dominated through the NFC and made their way to the Super Bowl.

Baker Mayfield has been off to a solid start, coming in as Pro Football Focus’ third highest graded quarterback on the season so far;

A big part of that has been the fact that Mayfield – and the rest of the Bucs offense – has protected the football. Zero turnovers through two games and allowing Mayfield to be sacked just once. That may change against a very stout Eagles defense – or, at least if Mayfield doesn’t have time to pass the ball. If he gets time, the Bucs’ receivers have an opportunity to exploit the lone weakness of Philadelphia.

The Eagles are allowing the seventh most total yards (378) and second most passing yards (326) per game. For those quick with the math, that means that yes, the Eagles are allowing just 52 rush yards per game – best in the NFL, and just two rush yards per game more than the Bucs are allowing. The Eagles are smack dab in the middle of the league, allowing the 16th most points per game at 24.0.

For the Bucs, the aerial attack has been going through Mike Evans so far, the NFL’s fourth leading receiver and grabbing a touchdown in each of the first two games. The Bucs have the NFL’s ninth best passing offense, coming in at 243.0 yards per game. Much like the Eagles’ scoring defense, the Bucs’ scoring offense is smack dab in the middle of the league, coming in 16th with 23.5 points per game. There was the slow start in Minnesota then a few drives against Chicago that fizzled out, otherwise that average is probably a few points higher.

The interesting chess match is which offense is going to abandon the run first. The Eagles’ second best rushing attack averaging 178.0 yards per game or the Bucs’ 19th ranked rushing attack averaging 93.5 yards per game. These are the top two run defenses in the NFL and while the Eagles are built to run, they were held to under 100 yards in the first week before exploding against the Vikings in week two for 259 yards on the ground. Against the Bucs, it’s far more likely they’re closer to the former than the latter.

That said, the points in this game are likely coming through the air. Both teams have banged up secondaries and Tampa has struggled against each of their first two opponents’ top pass catchers – Justin Jefferson finished with 9 receptions for 150 yards while D.J. Moore had 6 receptions for 104 yards.

Of course, since this has all the makings to be an explosive shootout via the air, it means we’ll end up with a 10-6 type of snoozefest that leaves us all shaking our heads.

This will be the 22nd meeting between the two teams and the Eagles have a chance to get the series back to an even split. That’s right, folks – the Bucs lead the all time series 11-10 and have won four in a row including the last meeting in 2022 where the Bucs easily disposed of the Eagles in the Wild Card round 31-15.

The Bucs are also 5-4 against the Eagles at home, winning the last two games at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay has a chance to have the longest win streak of this rivalry with a win on Monday, which would mark their fifth straight. They’ve won four dating back to 2015 whereas the Eagles also won four in a row spanning from 2000-2002. That streak was snapped by the pick six from Ronde Barber in the NFC Championship that shut down Veteran’s Stadium – the same Ronde Barber that will be honored at halftime.

According to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bucs are 5-point home underdogs – though that line has continued to shift quite a bit throughout the week – with a 46-point over/under. The Eagles have won ten straight games as a road favorite while the Bucs haven’t covered the spread in five of their last six Monday night games.

The Tampa Bay Bucs and Philadelphia Eagles will kickoff the Monday Night Football double-header at 7:15 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN+ with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call from Raymond James Stadium.

For more on this and all things Tampa Bay Bucs check out James Yarcho and David Harrison on the Locked On Bucs Podcast!

By admin