Eagles vs. Buccaneers Preview & Prediction: What can Philly do to topple the GOAT?

    Our Eagles vs. Buccaneers prediction doesn't feel like sunshine and rainbows for Philadelphia, but there are ways they could steal a win.

    The Philadelphia Eagles snuck into the playoffs as the seventh seed and will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Do they have a chance against the defending Super Bowl champions? What would it take for Philadelphia to knock off Tom Brady and the Buccaneers? One thing is certain. It’ll take a monumental effort from multiple positional groups from them to pull the upset. But aside from one glaring sore spot, they might have the personnel to do it. We’ll dive into all that in this Eagles vs. Buccaneers prediction.

    Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

    The Buccaneers had the best offense in the NFL from an efficiency perspective. They ranked in the top five of both rushing and passing efficiency for the season in both expected points added (EPA) per play and DVOA (Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric).

    Conversely, the Eagles were a middle-of-the-pack defense according to EPA and a bottom-third team according to DVOA. The Eagles were somewhat surprisingly an offense-driven team, although they failed to accomplish a top-10 efficiency ranking. Nevertheless, they ranked third in rushing EPA and were first in rushing success rate.

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    Unfortunately for them, the Buccaneers ranked fourth in rushing defense and were fifth against the pass.

    But even with the odds stacked against them, the NFL this season has shown us that anything can happen. With that in mind, there are some spots that if Philadelphia can hold an advantage, they’ll win.

    The Eagles’ OL must dominate

    Lavonte David’s return makes this a more complicated affair. The better of the Buccaneers’ linebacking duo returns from injured reserve, making running the football an even more difficult venture.

    There isn’t an organization in the NFL that’s evaluated offensive line play better in the past decade. Jordan Mailata came from nowhere, and they took a chance on an injured (a lot) Landon Dickerson in Round 2. Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson are already All-Pros, and something called a Nate Herbig has filled in admirably at right guard for them.

    It won’t be easy. Vita Vea is the closest thing we’ve seen to an actual bear playing football. The Bucs have two linebackers that can play some serious football and a host of other great run-defending players in the front seven. Then, there are the two safeties — Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead — who can both fly forward.

    But the Eagles have an element that makes their rushing attack more dangerous than most.

    Jalen Hurts must dominate through air and ground

    The second-year player will have to find some magic he’s yet to find through the air if the Eagles want a chance to beat a Buccaneers team that even remotely shows up. But the bigger impact might come from not just his ability to run but the threat that he may run.

    Jalen Hurts averaged 5.6 yards per attempt on the ground and ran the ball 139 times in 15 games. He had double-digit carries six different times throughout the season. There is no hiding anything on offense in the playoffs, particularly a rushing quarterback. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him carry the ball 15-20 times against Tampa Bay if that’s where they’re finding success.

    It doesn’t have to be in the option game, either. Normally, teams are playing 9 on 11 in the blocking game. However, adding Hurts as a rusher also adds a blocker. If Philadelphia somehow pulls this out, it’ll be because the Buccaneers struggled to defend Hurts.

    Eagles must turn over the GOAT

    Brady’s career numbers in the playoffs aren’t as good as his regular-season stats, but that’s to be expected when facing the best of the best. Brady doesn’t miss the playoffs, so we have a solid sample size to go off of.

    Since 2011, Brady has played in 26 playoff games. In over a quarter of those games (7), he’s thrown multiple interceptions. Last season, he threw 3 interceptions during the playoffs, but they were all in the NFC Championship Game.

    This season, Brady had multiple interception games three times. But he didn’t seem to have much trouble against the Eagles. Although he did throw a pick in the game, he also completed 80% of his passes, and the Bucs won 28-22 in a game that only became that close at the end.

    Philadelphia could use some Darius Slay heroics in a big way.

    Stop Gronk, win game?

    Rob Gronkowski’s numbers have been similar in the past two games. He’s received 10 targets in each, while also catching 7 passes in each. He didn’t have any touchdowns in those two games, but no tight end had more than his 252 yards during that time.

    There’s only one little problem with stopping Gronkowski. The Eagles allowed the most touchdowns to tight ends in 2021 (14), the most receptions (107), and the second-most fantasy points (beating only the Chargers in that area).

    That’s somewhat expected given the Eagles’ lackluster linebacker play. With no Chris Godwin or Antonio Brown on the field, the Eagles should focus their efforts on Gronkowski.

    Eagles vs. Buccaneers prediction

    • Spread: Buccaneers -7.5 (Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
    • Moneyline: Buccaneers -335, Eagles +260
    • Total: 46.5

    The Buccaneers should win this game. They’re a more talented team with the best of all time under center. Additionally, they’re not a great matchup for the Eagles, but you can never truly count out a rushing quarterback. Although it would surprise me to see Philadelphia win, it wouldn’t shock me if they pulled it off.

    Still, I’m not betting against Brady. Not when I feel his team is superior.

    Eagles vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Buccaneers 28, Eagles 20

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