Wed. Jun 12th, 2024
NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Bucs
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Bucs and Philadelphia Eagles prepare for their sixth all-time meeting in the postseason

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here were are again, preparing for a postseason showdown between the Tampa Bay Bucs and Philadelphia Eagles. Everyone remembers those three matchups that ended Tony Dungy’s tenure as head coach and in turn closed down The Vet as the Bucs went on to win a Super Bowl.

Then there was just two years ago when Tom Brady and the Bucs dismantled an Eagles team that was just happy to be there and had no expectations. Now? Now it’s the Bucs that don’t seem to have any expectations – as they were one of the pre-season to land the top pick in the draft – while the Eagles are defending NFC Champions and have done nothing the last month but fail to meet expectations.

The Bucs were 3-1 at one point before dropping to 4-7, bouncing back to 8-7 before finishing at 9-8 and NFC South champs for the third straight year. The Eagles, on the other hand, started 10-1 before finishing 11-6 and losing to teams like the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants to end the season.

Now the Bucs with their $81-million in dead cap, their $4-million dollar quarterback, their rookie offensive coordinator, and their head coach that many fans still can’t decide if they like or not can continue to exceed early expectations and upset the defending conference champs – because despite the Eagles’ struggles they’re still favored to win.

One thing that’s going to play the biggest role in this game is injuries. Baker Mayfield injured his ankle back in week three against the Saints before re-aggravating it against the Colts, then having it aggravated again last week against the Panthers. On top of that, he’s still dealing with his rib injury suffered at the hands of the Saints two weeks ago. That ankle could make or break the Bucs’ offense against the Eagles this week.

However, the Eagles are in worse shape. Jalen Hurts dislocated the middle finger of his throwing hand last week and hasn’t thrown a ball since. On top of that, they lost rookie safety Sydney Brown to a torn ACL, receiver A.J. Brown is dealing with a knee injury, and safety Reed Blankenship is dealing with a groin injury. While DeVonta Smith vows to play and Darius Slay seems to be on track to return, this Eagles team is reeling up and down the depth chart.

The Bucs’ game plan in this one needs to revolve around Rachaad White. He struggled in the first meeting between these teams, but this is a different Bucs team than they were in week three. The Bucs have struggled along the interior of the offensive line the last couple weeks and the Eagles have some fantastic interior defensemen. To counter that, Baker is going to need to get the ball out of his hands quickly and no one on the Bucs is better suited to catch those short, quick passes then make plays with their legs than Rachaad White. Neutralizing that pass rush and taking advantage of the space Philly gives up underneath will lead to long, sustained drives for the Bucs that will not only result in points, but will keep their defense fresh – while simultaneously wearing out the Eagles defense and opening up things down the field later in the game. The Eagles are allowing over 30 points per game over the last six weeks, so there will be points to score if the Bucs can just keep Baker on his feet.

Defensively, the Bucs need the kind of performance they had against Jaguars or Panthers – not what they showed against the Saints. That said, this is a different defense than the Eagles saw earlier in the year. Calijah Kancey is playing, YaYa Diaby has become a big contributor, Devin White was dealing with an injury the first time around – and he called his shot immediately following that early season loss;

Despite the injuries and the struggles of Philadelphia, they are still 3-point road favorites in a game that offers a 43.5-point over/under according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Eagles have failed to cover or hit the over in six straight games while the Bucs have won three straight games where they were underdogs.

The Bucs hold a 3-2 postseason record against the Eagles and are looking for a third straight win against them in the playoffs. At home, they are 2-0 against Philadelphia with wins coming in 1979 and 2021.

The Bucs and Eagles square off at Raymond James Stadium Monday night at 8:00 p.m. with the game broadcast on ESPN, ABC, and ESPN+. Joe Buck and Tory Aikman will be on the call.

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