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The Philadelphia Eagles have won four of their last five games led by young QB Jalen Hurts who is mobile and can throw on the run or earn first downs with his legs, his 9-8 team scoring 26 points per game this regular season while his Eagles’ 10th ranked defense continues to shut down opponents as HC Nick Sirianni’s Philly team seems to get better each time it competes.
The defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers suited up their starters in Week 18 as QB Tom Brady and company kept their fiery momentum ongoing, their 41-17 defeat of the Panthers just a warmup for the postseason as they face an Eagles wildcard team that is tricky to beat, nothing HC Bruce Arians can’t game plan against, even without a shirtless Antonio Brown.
These two NFC rivals have played each other 20 previous times (including 4 postseason games), with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning 10 of those games and the Philadelphia Eagles winning the other 10 games. Also, take a look at most recent odds and predictions for NFL Playoffs Picks Agianst the spread!
The starting QB for the Eagles is second-year man Jalen Hurts, a 6’ 1” 223-pound speedster with the potential to break free for a first down or more at any moment who has completed over 61 percent of his passes this season as he led his team to the postseason.
As Hurts develops in the NFL there are growing pains, of course, like his 9 interceptions (including a Week 3 with two picks and a Week 12 with three), but his potential far outweighs those temporary setbacks, his mobility and evolving football IQ impressive.
If the Eagles want to win against this powerful Bucs team, Hurts is going to have to find the end zone through the air more often than he has, right now with 265 completions for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns compared with his 139 carries for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns.
One of the most difficult feats to accomplish is back to back Super Bowl wins – only seven teams have done it in the history of the NFL – and one player who has already won two Lombardi Trophies in a row is Bucs QB Tom Brady (when the GOAT played in New England).
The Buccaneers have won eleven games and have only lost four and their 2nd ranked offense averages thirty points per game while their more moderately-ranked defense (13th) keeps opponents to under 21 points per game, a deadly combo that could indeed repeat as champs.
At some point Tampa Bay will have to face Aaron Rodgers’ Packers to win the NFC and that is a matchup that fans of all teams will want to enjoy, but before that can happen they must figure out how to keep Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in the pocket where he can do less damage.
The Eagles have the league’s top-ranked rushing attack, their squad averaging almost 160 yards on the ground per game, and two of the players partially responsible for that production are RBs Miles Sanders and rookie Kenneth Gainwell.
Sanders is in his third NFL season, the 5’ 11” 211 pound Penn State alum now averaging 5.5 yards a carry this season, a powerful runner who falls forward and earns yards after he is hit, this year he has had 137 carries for 754 yards plus 26 receptions for 138 yards but no TDs.
The rookie Gainwell is a dual-threat speedster who is 5’ 9” and 200 pounds, his ability to catch and run with check down passes earning him more snaps every game, right now with 68 carries for 291 yards and 5 touchdowns with 33 catches for 253 yards and a touchdown.
Few NFL players rise up higher in the postseason than Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski, the energetic 6’ 6”, 265-pound giant who can run routes and get open and earn yards after the catch because he is so difficult to take down, the 11-year veteran certainly a future Hall of Famer.
Gronk has redefined the tight end position, his blocking already solid but his mobility as a pass-catcher what takes him to the next level as a playmaker, so far with 55 receptions for 802 yards and 6 touchdowns in twelve games, his longest catch this season a 42 yarder.
What Gronk also brings to the field is a dominant presence that defenses must respect, so in the red zone or on third downs watch for Philly to double team him, which leaves a plethora of playmaking receivers with more area to get open and less defenders focusing on their moves.
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|Eagles vs Buccaneers Information|
|What||Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Where||Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio|
|When||Saturday, January 15, 2022; 4:30 PM ET|
|How to watch||NBC|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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