NFC WILD CARD GAME 1: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
On paper, this looks like it might be the most lopsided match up of the playoffs, but the postseason has a way of ridding us of those notions in a hurry. The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Raymond James stadium as serious underdogs to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the NFC opens its Wild Card slate Sunday.
The Bucs punched their ticket to the dance a few weeks ago, but thanks to the San Francisco 49ers knocking off the Los Angeles Rams last week, they now hold the No. 2 seed. Tampa’s Super Bowl run last year was all on the road as a Wild Card.
The Eagles too had an extra week to book their playoff flights, clinching in Week 17 and resting starters in a meaningless game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 18.
This is the 20th all time meeting between the two franchises and it’s dead even, 10-10. Tampa Bay has won the last three, including their last meeting back on Oct. 14. Tom Brady threw for 297 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the victory. Leonard Fournette had 22 carries for 81 yards and a two TDs and Antonio Brown caught nine passes for 93 yards and a score. He is, obviously, no longer with the team. Jalen Hurts threw for 115 yards, a touchdown and a pick and added 44 yards and two TDs on the ground.
This will be the fifth meeting in the postseason between the Bucs and Eagles. They’re tied there too, 2-2, with Tampa’s last win a 27-10 victory in the 2002-03 playoffs.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-8.5, O/U: 45.5)
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Kickoff: Jan. 16, 1 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-8)
Looking at the possibility of playing the Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys or Bucs regardless of the outcome of last week’s game, the Eagles decided to go ahead and cash out, resting starters to make sure they could make a healthy run this Sunday. Because of that, the Cowboys crushed the B-team Eagles 51-26. Gardner Minshew finished with 186 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Kenneth Gainwell had 78 yards and a score on the ground and Quez Watkins caught five passes for 84 yards and a TD. The Eagles defense sacked Dak Prescott once, but that’s pretty much all they did.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (13-4)
The Bucs capped their regular season by recording their third consecutive victory, this one a 41-17 cruise control stomp job on the hapless Carolina Panthers. Tom Brady finished with 326 yards and three touchdowns before tossing the ball to back up Blaine Gabbert. Rob Gronkowski caught seven passes for 137 yards. Mike Evans had six catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
There is a dream scenario where the Eagles, seeing that “no one believes in them” rise to the occasion to completely remove the danger of another Tom Brady Super Bowl Championship for our collective nation’s problems. It’s a nice fantasy. As it is, I do think Philly can put up a fight and -8.5 is a big spread for a Bucs team still figuring out its offense after the exit of AB. Buccaneers 24, Eagles 20
Straight up: 11-5
Against the spread: 10-6
Straight up: 170-101-1
Against the spread: 143-129
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.
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