Super Wild Card weekend concludes on Monday Night Football (1/15/24) with a matchup between the NFC South division champions and No. 4 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8) and the No. 5 seeded Philadelphia Eagles (11-6). Betting odds have the Eagles as road favorites at -3 against the spread, while the over/under is set at 43.5 total points.
This article provides Eagles vs. Buccaneers analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the Buccaneers’ moneyline (+135).
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Prediction & Best Bet
What a gross playoff matchup. The Eagles and Buccaneers may be the two worst teams in the 2023 playoffs, at least based on recent performance.
The Eagles completely collapsed down the stretch of the season, losing five of their final six games. Not only did they lose those games, but they were completely dominated in their final two games against the Cardinals and Giants, two bottom-five teams based on record and most metrics. The Eagles were 28th in the league in net EPA over the final third of the season (Weeks 13-18).
The Buccaneers finished the season winning five of their final six games, but in their most recent game with their division title on the line they could muster only 228 yards of offense and scored just nine points against the actual worst team in the league, the Carolina Panthers. Among the 14 playoff teams, Tampa Bay is tied for the worst regular season record at 9-8 (along with the Packers) and they are the lowest-rated playoff team based on DVOA (18th).
On paper, the Eagles are clearly the more talented team, which is why they are 3-point favorites on the road despite being one of the worst teams in the league at the end of the regular season. The Eagles also beat the Bucs convincingly 25-11 in another Monday Night Football game back in Week 3, but that outcome means very little in terms of expectations this time around.
Despite their superior roster, we are simply flabbergasted that the Eagles are such big road favorites considering how terrible they have been over the last six weeks. Their mid-season change at defensive coordinator from Sean Desai to Matt Patricia has completely backfired as the defense looks confused with players not knowing where to line up. The offense is predictable and unable to handle any kind of pressure, as we saw last week against the Giants.
Tampa Bay is gonna copy this blueprint
It’s who they are
It’s what Philly desperately struggles with https://t.co/XBu2e0PBSo
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 10, 2024
As Orlovsky points out, the Buccaneers’ strengths align with the Eagles’ biggest flaws right now. Tampa Bay blitzed at the 3rd-highest rate in the league this season, and while that didn’t translate to high rates of pressures or sacks, the same was true of the Giants (2nd-highest blitz rate) before they dominated the Eagles up front. Not only are the Eagles going to struggle with the Bucs’ blitzes, but Jalen Hurts and AJ Brown also are both dealing with injuries that could limit their effectiveness in this game.
That is an especially big problem because the Eagles need their offense to win this game for them, since the defense is not going to dominate the Bucs’ offense the way it did back in Week 3. Since the change at DC, their defense has allowed 30.3 points per game, 2nd most in the league. They are 31st in defensive EPA and 30th in success rate over that span.
The Bucs are not a good team, but they are much better than the Eagles right now. They are also healthier and they are at home, and yet you can get them on the moneyline at +135 odds. That is a no brainer as the best bet in this game.
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Prediction & Best Bet: Buccaneers win 27-20 | Best Bet: Buccaneers moneyline (+135)
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds
The spread in this game opened at Eagles -1.5 at some sportsbooks and has moved to the key number of -3. It’s worth monitoring to see if that line moves in either direction off of that key number.
The over/under is sitting at either 43.5 or 44 total points depending on the sportsbook.
For context, when these teams played in Week 3 the spread closed at -5.5 and the over/under was 44. Of course, a lot has changed for both teams since that game.
The implied outcome of the current odds is the Eagles winning 23-20.
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Key Injuries
The Eagles have some key players on the injury report that are worth monitoring, most importantly star WR A.J. Brown. Starting S Reed Blankenship is also questionable, which is especially important considering their top reserve safety in rookie Sydney Brown just tore his ACL in Week 18. QB Jalen Hurts dislocated the middle finger on his throwing hand in Week 18, which could affect him in this game but should not prevent him from playing. WR DeVonta Smith and CB Darius Slay are both expected to return from 1- and 4-game absences, respectively.
The Buccaneers are in much better shape health-wise with QB Baker Mayfield as the only key player on the injury report, and he is expected to play through rib and ankle injuries.
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Eagles vs. Buccaneers below.
Eagles’ offensive scheme vs. Bucs’ blitzes
As noted above, the Eagles’ vaunted offensive line is struggling mightily with picking up blitzes, and now they are facing one of the most blitz-heavy defenses in the league. But the offensive line isn’t actually the main problem; it’s really the Eagles’ offensive scheme. They somehow lack basic football concepts like hot reads and site adjustments, plays that are designed to get the ball out quickly to beat a blitz.
Without having those quick throws available, Jalen Hurts is forced to use his legs to buy time for his receivers’ routes to develop downfield. That often leads him to throw the ball away or to make bad decisions, which have frequently resulted in turnovers. Hurts has a 74.1 passer rating against blitzes this season (28th in the league) and has thrown eight interceptions when blitzed (with a few more that were dropped) compared to just six touchdowns.
If the Eagles’ offense can’t solve its issues against the blitz, it’s going to be an ugly end to the Eagles’ ugly season.
Bucs RB Rachaad White vs. Eagles’ linebackers
Nothing could summarize the arc of the Eagles’ season more than the precipitous decline of their run defense. They had the best run defense in the league for the first half of the season, allowing a league-leading 66.3 rushing yards per game through their first nine games and ranking 2nd in DVOA against the run. Since their bye in Week 10, they have allowed a league-high 145.1 rushing yards per game and they finished 22nd in run defense DVOA.
On the other hand, while the Buccaneers have been one of the worst rushing offenses in the league for two years in a row, they started to turn that around over the second half of the season. Over his first 10 games, Rachaad White averaged just 45.9 rushing yards (3.26 yards per carry) and had three games with 100+ scrimmage yards. Over his final seven games he averaged 75.9 rushing yards (4.1 yards per carry) and had four games with 100+ scrimmage yards.
White is particularly dangerous as a receiving threat, having finished with the 3rd most receiving yards (32.3 per game) and the 4th most receptions (3.8) among RBs. With Baker Mayfield banged up entering this game, the Bucs should lean heavily on White. The Eagles’ ability to slow him down will be a huge factor in the final outcome.
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