Eagles vs. Buccaneers: NFC Wild Card Round preview, odds, promos
Eagles vs. Buccaneers NFC Wild Card Round
When: Sunday, Jan. 16, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Since the start of the 2016 NFL season, only two teams have defeated Tom Brady in the playoffs. One was the Tennessee Titans in the 2019 Divisional Round.
The other? None other than the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
Brady is now defending his seventh Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — a high-powered offensive machine that shrugged off the season-ending injury of leading receiver Chris Godwin and the bizarre exit of Antonio Brown a few weeks ago to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs.
The 44-year-old is coming off the best statistical season of his career, headlining an attack that attempted the most passes in football this year (731) and accrued the most yards and touchdowns through the air.
It’ll be the toughest test yet for a middle-of-the-road Eagles pass defense, who allowed Brady to complete 34-of-42 passes for 297 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception in a 28-22 loss in Week 6 this season.
While the Eagles kept it close, that loss was a part of a 2-5 start to 2021, which immediately put their playoff hopes in doubt.
But behind the continued development of second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia’s league-best run game, the Eagles finished the season by winning seven of their final 10 games.
Given Hurts’ dual-threat capabilities, a bevy of dependable running backs, and a solid offensive line, the Eagles’ offensive success is on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the Buccaneers.
Only the Tennessee Titans (551) attempted more runs than the Eagles (550), but Philadelphia’s 2,715 rushing yards were 175 more than the second-place Indianapolis Colts.
The problem is that injuries on both sides of the ball create some uncertainties heading into Sunday’s matchup.
Eagles running backs Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders are dealing with injuries, though first-year head coach Nick Sirianni is hopeful that they’ll be ready to go for the NFC Wild Card Round.
Sanders and Howard are the Eagles’ top two running backs (second and third on the team in rushing behind Hurts) and if they are unable to go, the pressure falls on the shoulders of Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell — though both backs averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry this season.
Hurts is also dealing with a lingering ankle injury he suffered in Week 12, so his effectiveness with his legs has been limited in recent weeks. It’s a big reason why he sat in the regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
The game plan likely will not change, though, given the Eagles’ lack of depth in the passing game.
On paper, it would appear that wouldn’t bode well considering the Buccaneers allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL this season. But they have allowed at least 100 rushing yards in five of their final seven games, which was only exacerbated when linebacker Lavonte David went down with a sprained ankle in Week 15.
In Week 17, they yielded 150 yards to the New York Jets and another 110 in the season finale to the Carolina Panthers.
If the Buccaneers’ offense jumps on Philadelphia early, it neutralizes the run game. Should the Eagles hang around though, this might not be such a cakewalk for the defending champions.
Eagles vs. Buccaneers NFC Wild Card Tale of the Tape
No. 7 Eagles
No. 2 Buccaneers
9-8 (2nd, NFC East)
13-4 (1st NFC South)
26.1 (12th in NFL)
30.1 (2nd in NFL)
200.2 (25th in NFL)
307.6 (1st in NFL)
159.7 (1st in NFL)
98.4 (26th in NFL)
22.6 (18th in NFL)
20.8 (5th in NFL)
220.9 (11th in NFL)
Passing yards allowed/game
238.9 (21st in NFL)
107.9 (9th in NFL)
Rushing yards allowed/game
92.5 (3rd in NFL)
Eagles vs. Buccaneers NFC Wild Card Players to Watch