Thursday Night Football Week 6 Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds
Date: Thursday, October 14, 2021
Game Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Where To Watch: Fox/NFL Network
- Key Stat: Philadelphia is fourth in the NFL in situation-neutral pace, while Tampa is sixth. Tampa leads the NFL in pass rate over expected (PROE), while Philadelphia is third.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction
Perhaps no team has had a more profound impact on the way opposing offenses play so far this season than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, against whom teams have completely ignored the run to the tune of a league-low 79 total rush attempts through five games. The Eagles, meanwhile, lead the NFL in rush attempts against, with opposing teams having run against them more than double the number of times teams have run against the Bucs (167).
But the Eagles’ trends are probably more matchup and game script related — they’ve mostly trailed in each game since Week 1. So opposing offenses have taken to the ground against a run defense that ranks 21st in success rate against, not needing to throw into a pass defense that ranks 28th in success rate against. Sure, the Eagles have allowed the league’s second-lowest explosive pass play rate against, and they’ve sat back and invited teams to run. But Tampa Bay is a team that has thrown willingly in all situations, recognizing their matchup advantage with a host of weapons.
Even with Rob Gronkowski out last week, Tampa threw early and often, with Tom Brady peppering his fantastic trio of wide receivers. The Eagles do boast a solid trio of coverage corners, led by Darius Slay, but Tampa’s passing game is built such that the ball can be delivered to several different places without discretion. And the Bucs know that — they lead the NFL in pass rate over expected (PROE), and it’s the major reason they lead the NFL in pass attempts despite rarely trailing or being in obvious passing situations.
Meanwhile, the Eagles, over the past few weeks, have shown their own willingness to be extremely pass-heavy. In Week 3 against the Cowboys, they set an NFL record by giving their RBs just three rush attempts all game, and they turned around in Week 4 against the Chiefs and gave their backs just ten rushes. For the season, they rank third in PROE, so in another game against a good opponent where the line suggests they will trail, it’s hard to imagine an outcome other than the Eagles aggressively throwing.
There are concerns with their banged-up offensive line and the Bucs’ pass rush, and tackle Lane Johnson will miss this game. But the Bucs remain very thin in the secondary, with cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting still on IR, while safety Antoine Winfield is out this week with a concussion, as is linebacker Lavonte David. Teams have had success against the Bucs’ pass defense this year — they rank 27th in passing success rate against, but second against the run — and the Eagles will need to be aggressive.
These offenses also play fast, which ties into their pass tendencies — both rank in the top six in situation-neutral time to snap. So there should be plenty of play volume in this one. The only real concern to a high-scoring game is the Bucs get up big and eschew the pass in favor of a running game that hasn’t been particularly efficient while also completely stifling the Eagles’ offense in a way that even with additional possessions in a fast-paced game, the Eagles can’t find points. But there’s a reason four of the Bucs’ five games have hit at least 58 points, and that’s because of their tendencies on both sides of the ball. So we get a reasonable over/under here of 52.5, considering Tampa is playing a team with a clear willingness to play fast and throw a ton. I’m not going against that.