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Bucs game day is approaching, and it’s time for the PewterReport.com staff to offer up its weekly game predictions. Let us know what you think in the article comments section and add your prediction, too.
BUCCANEERS at EAGLES
WHEN: Thursday, October 14, 2021 | WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field | KICKOFF: 8:20 p.m. ET | TV: FOX
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Joe Buck |ANALYST: Troy Aikman | SIDELINE: Erin Andrews & Kristina Pink
RADIO: 98 ROCK 97.9 FM | PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gene Deckerhoff | ANALYST: Dave Moore | SIDELINE: T.J. Rives
SPANISH RADIO: 96.1 FM | PLAY-BY-PLAY: Carlos Bohorquez | ANALYST: Martin Gramatica
Join Pewter Report’s Matt Matera on PewterReport.com’s Red Board to talk Bucs football for a
live game day chat, starting at noon on Thursday all the way through to the final whistle.
Click the link below to access the Game Day Thread on the Red Board.
Brandon | Brooksville | Carrollwood | Fort Myers | Lakeland | New Tampa | Odessa/Lutz
Palm Harbor | Riverview | Sarasota | St. Petersburg | Tallahassee | Tyrone | Wesley Chapel
Scott Reynolds: Tampa Bay Wins A Close Game In Philly
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has said the goal for the defense is to hold opponents to 17 points or less on a weekly basis. They’ve done that the past two weeks, but that may prove to be challenging in Philadelphia on Thursday night. The reason? Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. The dual threat QB has accounted for 10 touchdowns already – seven through the air and three on the ground. Hurts has the Eagles offense scoring 21 points or more in four of the Eagles’ five games this year. Philadelphia is 2-2 in those games.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts – Photo by: USA Today
But in order to beat the Bucs and the league’s second-highest scoring offense (34.3 avg.) the Eagles will need more than 21 points. Tampa Bay is one of the worst tackling teams in the NFL and had trouble bringing Jacoby Brissett down last week. The Bucs recorded three sacks, but whiffed on five sack attempts. Hurts is faster and more elusive and will be tougher to get a hand on. Look for Hurts to throw deep to speedsters DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins to take advantage of the Bucs’ banged up secondary, and underneath to running backs Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell to try to take advantage of Tampa Bay’s struggles tackling the ball.
Offensively, Tampa Bay must protect Tom Brady, especially the interior of the offensive line. Defensive tackles Javon Hargrave, who has six sacks already, and Fletcher Cox are two of the best in the league right now. Controlling them up front will be key as the Bucs also want to run the ball between the tackles. Brady and the Bucs receivers will see plenty of zone coverage this week as the Eagles are the most zone-heavy team in the NFL. I still think there’s a pretty good chance Tampa Bay hits 30 points again – even on a short week with Brady’s thumb banged up.
On paper, the Bucs should beat the Eagles fairly easily, but these regular season prime time game seem to do weird things to their efficiency. And Tampa Bay is hurting, especially on defense, where they were already struggling this season. Over the past few weeks, the Bucs secondary has been blamed for a lot, but the fault has rested more squarely on the defense’s poor tackling and the pass rush’s inability to finish. With the Eagles starting three backup offensive linemen, the Bucs front 4-5 need to be dominant.
Bucs WR Mike Evans and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
And maybe they will be, but I just don’t trust this defense right now. The Eagles speed will give their secondary issues, and Jalen Hurts is playing with a ton of confidence right now. I’m not sure if he’s good, but he’s a playmaker. Philadelphia has just four turnovers all season, one of few teams with less than the Bucs. Even in losses, they’ve played hard and kept themselves in games.
But ultimately, the Bucs talent will win out. Tom Brady, specifically, will win out. When the Bucs defense forces Tampa Bay’s offense to pick up the slack again, Brady and co. will deliver. The Eagles are the zone-heaviest defense in the NFL, and they never blitz. Even though their front four is formidable, I think the 2021 Bucs offense will pick them apart short-intermediate while running the football efficiently. It’s tighter than it should be, but the Bucs prevail.
Matt Matera: It Won’t Be Easy, But Bucs Do Enough To Win
Thursday night games are a fun way to start off a new week. But they’re tougher than you think for the teams involved, especially when you’re the road team like the Bucs are. The short week hurt Tampa Bay last year in a 20-19 loss at Chicago, but this time around they’ll be much better prepared as the offense is looking as good as ever with a 45-point performance against Miami.
Bucs ILB Kevin Minter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I don’t think the Bucs will have an offensive outburst again this week, but they will do the heavy lifting to come up with a win. The Eagles have a good interior pass rush that won’t make things as comfortable for the Bucs as they want. With that said, no team can stall Tampa Bay for so long, and you can expect one of the top receivers to go off depending on the match-ups. I suspect it will be Chris Godwin considering the Eagles will learn from the Dolphins that they can’t play man against him, so Godwin will slice through the zone in the slot.
The Bucs defense has done a good job with Jamel Dean and Richard Sherman in the sense that they’re not allowing any big plays. Philadelphia can push the ball down the field more with DeVonta Smith and the rest of their group more than Tampa Bay has seen lately, so that’s a difficult challenge. There’s always going to be a concern playing a mobile quarterback with Jalen Hurts even after the Bucs’ pass rush has been more active. They have two good running backs as well, and the Bucs had a tough time defending that position last week. It’s even tougher now with Lavonte David out and Kevin Minter starting at linebacker. The Bucs won’t dominate, but they can ride the offense enough to enjoy a win going into the weekend.
JC Allen: Bucs Struggles In Prime Time Continue In Philly
This game won’t be the knockout most Bucs fans think it will for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, the Bucs struggles in prime time have continued this season. Although they have won both contests, the games were decided on late field goals. In addition, Thursday night games haven’t not been Tampa Bay’s friend over the years, with just a 4-8 record. Who can forget last season against the Chicago Bears and Tom Brady forgetting what down it was? Add in the fact that this Bucs team have had three hard weeks of football and two late flights, there is cause for concern. This is a game I circled early on as a game to watch for many of those reasons. Never mind the ever-growing list of injured players the Bucs have now.
Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
This Eagles team is better than their 2-3 record would indicate. Coming off a hard-fought win against the Panthers, the Eagles offense led by Jalen Hurts is ranked 14th in the NFL with a balanced running and passing attack, while the defense sits at number 10 overall. Thanks is due in large part to their No. 3-ranked pass defense.
Rookie wide receiver Devonta Smith has shown great chemistry with Hurts connecting for over 300 yards this season. Hurts has 1,365 passing yards and seven touchdowns to go with 256 yards on the ground and three scores. Last week Myles Gaskin torched the Bucs not on the ground but through the air and Miles Sanders is capable of the same. Strong tackling not giving up the yards after catch and mental errors will be huge if the Bucs want to win this game on a short week.
While the Eagles defense may be good at stopping the pass the season, they have been one of the worst against the run. Ranked 30th in the league allowing an average of 142 yards per game. Establishing the run early will be key for the Bucs to win the game. Leonard Fournette has been excellent the past two games and we’ll need to see more of that on Thursday for a Bucs win. The Bucs should be able to move the ball through the air still. While the pass defense has been good for the Eagles, they haven’t seen a trio of receivers like this at all this season. They should be able to do enough to win a close one in Philly, with the silver lining of a mini bye and players returning on the horizon.
Paul Atwal: Improved Offense Will Carry Bucs To Win In Philly
The Philadelphia Eagles are a respectable opponent that don’t have a clear weakness, but also don’t have any elite strengths, either. There are question marks on the Bucs defense, but I’m not that worried. The tape against Miami was a bit better than I remembered. However, the small stuff needs to be cleaned up (i.e. tackling and penalties). The defense shouldn’t have to be elite for this team to win, anyway.
Like I said last week, a splash play or two should be more than enough to put this team over the edge when the offense is playing how it should. Moreover, this defense is actually around the middle of the pack in terms of overall EPA/play. It’s important to remember that they faced three tough quarterbacks to begin the season. So long as the health of this defense doesn’t deteriorate further, and if Todd Bowles can put JPP, JTS, and Vita Vea in coverage a bit less often (don’t hold your breath on this one), they’ll be alright.
Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
On the other hand, the Buccaneers offense looks incredible. There are clear improvements in just about every aspect from last year’s Super Bowl-winning team. The passing attack is more varied. They’re executing better on screens, being more patient underneath when necessary, and continuing to be aggressive with explosive plays when possible. Even the ground game has started clicking, as Tampa Bay currently ranks seventh in rushing EPA/play. A part of that success is due to how defenses are playing the Bucs, using light boxes and personnel in hopes of stopping the pass. But the offensive line, Leonard Fournette, and Ronald Jones II (in his limited role) have played better, too. The best part is that the Bucs have become more aggressive on early downs. They’re passing more often than last year while simultaneously rushing more efficiently when they do hand it off.
This has been a fun team to watch thus far. I’m curious to see if they can continue their upward trajectory, or if they take a step backwards on a short week. It’s certainly not realistic to expect linear improvement, especially for an already excellent team. But at this point, it’s mostly about eliminating mental errors. And even if the Bucs don’t play their most polished game, I’m expecting a victory.
Kasey Hudson: Slowing Down Hurts Will Be Key In Bucs’ Victory
Can the Buccaneers carry over their momentum from Sunday’s win to Thursday’s match-up versus the Eagles? Tampa Bay had a clean balance utilizing the spread and the run game and will need to work the same versatility against the Eagles. Philadelphia’s defense is stronger than Miami’s and plays an awful lot of zone coverage. The Eagles will have to be able to match Antonio Brown’s speed, Mike Evans’ size and Chris Godwin’s hustle. Meaning another possible 100-plus all-purpose game for “All season Lenny” Fournette. Linebacker Alex Singleton can present an issue, coming off of a 13-tackle performance versus the Panthers.
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: USA Today
If the Buccaneers want to win this game defensively, they need to make their tackles. There were too many “almost” opportunities on defense Sunday against the Dolphins, and the Eagles have playmakers in DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins. Jamal Dean had a timely interception against the Dolphins, but Bruce Arians alluded to Dean needing to leave less plays on the field and be more consistent in pressers Monday. With Lavonte David out due to an ankle injury Kevin Minter will have to step in, which Todd Bowles seems to feel comfortable with.
Jalen Hurts barely broke 200 passing yards, threw zero touchdowns and got sacked twice when going up against quality pass rush defenses. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Shaq Barrett can get a sack a piece and Jason Pierre-Paul is ready to bounce back regardless of limitation. The strength, speed and experience of Tampa’s defensive line should help them get to Hurts quickly enough to take away his legs or force a turnover. Though the Eagles will have a better defense, the Buccaneers are picking up their run game and execution in the red zone. Tampa Bay improves to 5-1, but Philly won’t make it easy.