Bucs have too many flaws to beat Eagles

by Gary Shelton on January 13, 2024

in general

Mayfield hopes for an upset./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Yeah, the Bucs could win this.

If they only had a pass rush.

Historically, when the Bucs have been good, they have been able to make quarterbacks nervous in the pocket. They brought heat from the corners, from up the middle, from the safeties, for goodness’ sakes.

And, yeah, if the Bucs could rush the passer, if Joe Tryon-Shoyinka was a player, if Shaq Barrett was chasing his old self, then the Bucs could pull an upset. Despite the Eagles have three Pro Bowlers on its offensive line, the Giants sacked the Eagles five times in last week’s 27-10 victory.

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Ah, but the pass rush has been difficult for the Bucs this season. They’ve had to rely on too many blitzes, which exposed too many cornerbacks.

Still, if the pass rush was decent, they still would have to cover someone. Granted, the Eagles’ A.J. Brown looks like he’s on the verge of an Antonio Brown-sized snit. Still, there are too many times the Bucs allow a receiver to make a catch without making a play on the ball. The Bucs are 29th in the league in yards allowed throwing the ball.

Ah, but the Eagles are in a decline. They’ve gone 1-5 in their last six games, and this year, they’e lost to the Giants and Jets and Cardinals.

So, yeah. If the Bucs could run the ball a little bit. But they can’t.

The Bucs were dead last in the NFL in rushing this year. It got a little better late in the season, but the Eagles have good personel on their line.

True, the Eagles finished poorly. But at least part of that was that the team got off to a 10-1 start. At their best, they’re simply a better team than Tampa Bay at its best.

The point, I'm afraid, is that the Bucs are a flawed team. They have some great individuals (Mike Evans, Antonio Winfield, Tristan Wirfs). But there is a reason only one player made this year's Pro Bowl.

Sure, the Bucs have a slugger’s chance. They’re home, and Baker Mayfield is a gamer.

But ask yourself this: If the Bucs win, wouldn’t you consider it an upset?

Me, too.

Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Tampa Bay 14.

In other NFL games:

Houston 24, Cleveland 20.

Kansas City 30, Miami 21.

Buffalo 34, Pittsburgh 24.

Dallas 31, Green Bay 23.

Detroit 24, L.A. Rams 20.

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