Another week, another opponent from the Sunshine State for the Philadelphia Eagles. But after there disappointing performance last week against the Miami Dolphins, they better come prepared on Sunday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are young, hungry and eager to prove that they can hang with every opponent they face. This week will be no different and the Eagles can’t afford to take anyone lightly.
Once the regular season schedule was officially announced, who would have thought the Eagles and Bucs would have the same record heading into this game? Well that’s exactly the case right now and it’s time for the Eagles to make a push for the playoffs. They should be embarrassed by their play thus far and can’t continue their pattern of taking one step forward and two steps back. That will lead them right down the path to mediocrity.
Tampa Bay did the Eagles a favor last week when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys. But they won’t be getting any favors returned on Sunday. Sadly for the Eagles, their fate lies in the hands of back-up quarterback Mark Sanchez. Will he do enough to lead the Eagles to a victory on Sunday? Only time will tell. Now let’s take a closer look into Sunday’s matchup between the Eagles and Buccaneers in Lincoln Financial Field.
Three Storylines To Watch For
1) What’s going on with the Eagles’ offensive line?
After a surprisingly strong effort from the mismatched offensive line against the Cowboys, the unit fell on it’s face against the Dolphins. Lane Johnson seemed a bit frustrated since he didn’t know whether he was playing left tackle or right tackle against the Dolphins until the inactives were announced. Jason Kelce continued to struggle with his snaps, penalties and blocking. Basically, Kelce has hit the trifecta of awful play for a center. But can the offensive line get back on track this week?
It looks like help may be on the way in the form of starting left tackle Jason Peters returning after missing the past two games due to a groin injury. With Peters back in the mix, the unit should play much better. Then again, Peters has struggled a bit this season as well. Although his return certainly won’t hurt, there’s no guarantee the offensive line will automatically return to their former dominance.
2) Which team will drop more passes?
If you thought the Eagles’ wide receivers have dropped a lot of passes this season, you haven’t watched Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans. Although Evans is one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL, he’s been battling a severe case of the “dropsies” lately. In his last three games alone, Evans has dropped 8 passes. That’s insane to think about but then again, Philadelphia’s fans have been forced to watch plenty of dropped passes this season as well. It’ll be interesting to see which team drops the ball more on Sunday and if it’ll have a major impact on the final outcome.
3) How will the Eagles stop Doug Martin and Charles Sims?
After dominating against the run to start the season, the Eagles have struggled to do so as of late. They allowed 100-yard rushers against the Panthers and Cowboys. While they were also gashed by Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi at times last Sunday. So how will they attempt to stop Tampa Bay’s dangerous running back duo of Doug Martin and Charles Sims?
It’s going to start in the trenches, of course. “The Nobodies” will have to step up big time and make plays against the Bucs’ relatively inexperienced offensive line. But the inside linebackers will have to step up as well. Too many times this season, we’ve seen linebackers fall off a running back when attempting to make a tackle. I’m looking at you, Kiko Alonso! If the Eagles can’t shut down Tampa Bay’s running game on Sunday, they could certainly be on upset alert.
Key Matchup To Watch For
Jameis Winston vs. DeMeco Ryans
Now this is too awesome of a story for me not to choose as the key matchup to watch for. Jameis Winston is obviously the quarterback of Tampa Bay’s offense but DeMeco Ryans is the “qusrterback” of Philadelphia’s defense as well. While the two will try to counter eachother on the field this Sunday, it’s their relationship off the field that will make things extra special.
Here’s a bit more of what I’m referring to, courtesy of Andrew Astleford of ESPN.com:
“It was always my dream [that] if I wasn’t going to play for the Eagles, [I’d] at least play against them or have a chance to go against them,” Winston said Wednesday. “But one thing that is important about this week is I get to go against one of my hometown heroes in DeMeco Ryans.
“Just playing against him and just to see how he has impacted my life and many kids’ lives in Bessemer, Alabama, and now we get to play against him. He’s an old man now to many of us. But he’s still a great role model and just a great person that I look up to. It’s bigger than the Eagles right now.”
The Eagles are currently six point favorites over the Buccaneers, according to Covers. Well then, that sure does sound familiar. They were also six point favorites at home against the Dolphins last week. How did that turn out for them? The over/under is currently set at 45, which seems reasonable. I’d personally take the over and the Bucs to keep it a close game.
It’s honestly hard to have any confidence in the Eagles at this point. But I actually liked what I saw from Mark Sanchez last week, in terms of the tempo he played at and his mobility. That will throw a bit of a curveball at the Bucs and they’ll ultimately run out of gas down the stretch. Therefore I’ve got the Eagles getting a much needed win at home in a close one against the rising Buccaneers.
Final Score Prediction: Eagles 27, Buccaneers 23
That’s all for my Eagles vs. Buccaneers preview, be sure to check back here at PhillyInfluencer.com for all of the latest news regarding your beloved Birds and everything else happening in Philadelphia!