The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to build off last week’s surprising win when they host the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 16, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Fans in local markets can watch the game on Fox.
According to this week’s NFL odds, the Eagles are a 3-point favorite on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 44 points.
As mentioned, the Bucs were one of the biggest surprises in Week 1. With Jameis Winston serving the first of a three-game suspension, Ryan Fitzpatrick led Tampa Bay to a 48-40 road win over the Saints. Fitzpatrick threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in one of the best performances of his career. It was just one game, but the win has already started to change perceptions of the Bucs and made some question whether Fitzpatrick could remain the starter when Winston’s suspension is over.
The Eagles also won their season opener but in a much different way. Philadelphia was able to grind out an 18-12 win over Atlanta last Thursday. It wasn’t a pretty performance, but the Eagles were able to orchestrate two scoring drives in the 2nd half to come away with the win. Much like the Bucs, the Eagles will be starting a backup quarterback, as Nick Foles remains the starter with Carson Wentz not yet cleared to return from the knee injury he suffered last season.
Despite both teams playing with their backup quarterback, this is one of the more intriguing matchups in Week 2. We’re all a little eager to see if the Bucs are for real or if last week was an aberration. Meanwhile, the defending champion Eagles figure to be tested on the road after a somewhat uneven performance in Week 1.
Picking this game really comes down to whether or not you believe Fitzpatrick is capable of repeating the same kind of performance he had last week. Obviously, there are other factors to consider, but if there’s no Fitz-magic, there’s not much to discuss. I’m going to bet that Fitzpatrick struggles to lead the Bucs to another 40-plus point performance. I’ll swallow a few points on the road and lean toward the Eagles.
Let’s be honest, the New Orleans defense was bad last week. The Saints made surprising strides on that side of the ball last season, but there were no signs of that in Week 1. In fairness, Fitzpatrick still had to take advantage of such a porous defense, so he deserves plenty of credit. He also has an amazing set of skill players around him. But last week’s offensive outburst had a little more to do with the Bucs facing a bad defense than Fitzpatrick’s prowess as a quarterback.
The Bucs won’t have that same luxury this week. The Eagles were one of the best defensive teams in the NFL last season and they look like they’re on that same level this year. The Philadelphia defense had four sacks and 13 hits on the quarterback in Week 1.
Keep in mind that came against an Atlanta team that has an established quarterback in Matt Ryan and plenty of quality skill players. To be fair, the Eagles gave up 169 yards receiving to Julio Jones, but they also managed to keep him out of the end zone and didn’t let anyone else do much damage in the passing game. I’m not expecting Tampa’s receivers to run rampant like they did a week ago.
The Tampa Bay rushing attack and offensive line are also concerns. The Bucs didn’t need to do much on the ground last week, but that won’t be the case against the Eagles. They need to keep the Philadelphia pass rush honest against the run or else Fitzpatrick will find himself under pressure all day. The Tampa offensive line isn’t exactly one of the better in the NFL, so they could struggle to keep Fitzpatrick protected if the Bucs are solely reliant on the pass.
Of course, the Philadelphia offense is also worth mentioning. Foles struggled last week, throwing for just 117 yards and an interception. However, keep in mind the Tampa Bay defense didn’t exactly play well last week. Obviously, Foles won’t torch the Bucs the way Drew Brees did. However, the Bucs are likely to be without corners Vernon Hargreaves and Brent Grimes, which could make it a little easier for Foles to move the ball. The Eagles also have a steady running game with Jay Ajayi, which makes me a little less worried about the Philadelphia offense.
At the end of the day, I’m skeptical of Fitzpatrick repeating last week’s performance against the Eagles. If Tampa’s defense played an equal role in last week’s win, things might be different. But I just can’t buy the Tampa Bay offense carrying the team against the Philadelphia defense, even at home. The game should be close, but I think the Eagles will do enough to cover the 3-point spread.