Nobody is surprised that the Philadelphia Eagles are 2-0 heading into their Monday Night Football matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many people, however, are surprised that the Buccaneers are 2-0 heading into this matchup. What are some stats, players, and matchups that could decide the game?
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Predictions
Not a single PFN analyst had the gull to predict that the Buccaneers could sneak away with a win against the Eagles. All five believed Philadelphia would come away with a win, but there’s no denying that they haven’t looked as dominant so far through two outings as they had a season ago.
What could Tampa Bay do in order to beat the Eagles? And how does Philadelphia avoid that?
Baker Mayfield’s Third-Down Performance
In 2023, Baker Mayfield is 20 of 23 on third down so far, which is the best mark in the NFL, according to Inside Edge.
MORE: 2023 NFL Standings
He’s been sacked just once on 24 dropbacks, and his 132.1 passer rating is the second-best mark on third downs so far. On those attempts, 48% of them have gone for first downs, the third-best mark in the league.
The Eagles’ Passing Attack Isn’t Right Yet
Jalen Hurts, and the Eagles’ passing attack has not hit its groove yet. Teams are taking away the explosiveness downfield, and Philadelphia isn’t finding the yards after the catch they did a season ago over the middle.
Through two games, the numbers are concerning. The Eagles have had zero successful passes when Hurts has been pressured this season, according to Inside Edge.
They were the only team through two games to accomplish that. Hurts has only thrown a first down on 20% of his third-down attempts, which is the worst mark in the league. His seven middle-of-field attempts in 56 total passes (12.5%) rank 27th in the NFL. They have a 31% success rate on first-half passes, third-worst in the league.
Beware of Antoine Winfield Jr.
According to Inside Edge, Antoine Winfield Jr.’s seven sacks since 2021 are tied for the most among defensive backs. His two missed tackles in 66 opportunities rank third best. That’s pretty good for a short safety that lacks adequate arm length.
Winfield can do it all. He’s allowed just one catch on six targets so far in 2023, and his blitz disguise and timing make him a menace coming off the edge for the Buccaneers. It’s actually a bit of a shame that he doesn’t get used in that role more often.
Vita Vea vs. Landon Dickerson and Cam Jurgens
Playing on the interior means that there are fewer true 1-on-1 opportunities. However, Vita Vea’s success against the Eagles’ offensive interior could be what spells doom for the opposition’s offense.
.@Buccaneers @VitaVea is playing dominant football anchoring the interior of a top 5 defense. Next up @Eagles on #MNF….One team is going to be 3-0….Who has the best defense? #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/QUZUmyXjf9
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 19, 2023
Although no sane human would claim the Vikings or Bears offensive lines hold a candle to Philadelphia’s, Vea can’t hate getting to face second and third-year players on the interior instead of Lane Johnson.
Buccaneers Must Avoid Allowing Explosive Passing Plays
The Buccaneers trail only the Commanders and Chargers in defending passes of 20+ air yards. They’ve allowed six completions in seven attempts with a deserved catch percentage of 100.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have attempted the second-most downfield passes (10) but have only managed to complete two of them. Last season, only five teams completed more passes of that nature than Philadelphia. And only one threw more touchdowns in those situations.
Considering how well they run the football, if Philadelphia finds their groove downfield again in the passing game, they’re a difficult offense to defend against.