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Eagles vs. Buccaneers Wild Card Weekend Picks: Tampa Bay To Begin Its Title Defense

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Wild Card Weekend Picks: Tampa Bay To Begin Its Title Defense
Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up prior to a game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images via AFP.

The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6 and will be looking for revenge this upcoming Sunday. Find out who we like with our Eagles-Buccaneers picks.

For the second time this season, the Eagles and the Buccaneers are set to go head-to-head. However, it has been three months since that first meeting, a 28-22 Buccaneers win on Thursday Night Football. This time, the stakes are heightened as the matchup is part of the first weekend of the NFL Postseason. 

The 7-seed Eagles won four of their final five regular-season games to secure a surprising spot in the NFC Playoffs. For the Buccaneers, Sunday afternoon’s home game marks the start of their Super Bowl title defense. The defending champs are the 2-seed in the NFC after winning three straight games and seven of eight overall to close the regular season. 

Here are my picks and predictions for the NFL Wild Card Weekend matchup between the Eagles and the Buccaneers (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Editor’s Note: Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette was not activated off IR for Sunday’s game.

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Game Info

Date/Time: Sunday, Jan. 16, 1:05 p.m. ET
TV: FOX
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Weather: 74 degrees, rain, 24 mph wins

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Odds Analysis

Oddsmakers opened this NFL Wild Card matchup with the Buccaneers picked to be the favorites against the Eagles by 8-points. The largest this point spread has reached to date was 9.5-points in favor of Tampa Bay. However, most books are still offering 8.5-points. 73% of public spread bets are laying the points with the defending Super Bowl champs. DraftKings is offering Eagles +9.5, a market best.

The Over/Under for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card Game has experienced a much greater adjustment from the opening line. An initial total of 49.5 set by oddsmakers has fallen all the way to a consensus line of 46 at most sportsbooks. A big reason for the line move is undoubtedly the weather forecast for the Tampa area on Sunday afternoon. Rain and strong winds are both expected and figure to lower the potency of both offenses.

Eagles Betting Preview

Record: 9-8 SU, 8-8-1 ATS, 10-7 O/U
Key Players: QB Jalen Hurts, RB Miles Sanders, WR DeVonta Smith, TE Dallas Goedert, DT Fletcher Cox, CB Darius Slay
Notable Trend: Underdogs are 7-2 ATS in the last nine Eagles vs. Buccaneers head-to-head matchups.

Little to none was expected of the Eagles in year one under coach Nick Sirianni. After a slow start, coaching adjustments proved to be a huge part of the Eagles being able to exceed expectations. On offense, in particular, the Eagles morphed into a run-heavy attack in order to play to the strengths of their personnel.

After suffering a broken hand in Week 16, Sanders was able to return to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday. Sirianni has already stated that he expects both Sanders and Howard to play in Sunday’s Wild Card Game despite their respective injury designations. Several Eagles players were able to get some extra rest last week as Philly opted to sit their starters in a fairly meaningless regular-season finale. It will be paramount for Fletcher Cox and the defensive front to gain an advantage at the line of scrimmage on Sunday. Meanwhile, rookie receiver DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert figure to remain Hurts’ top targets in the passing game.

Buccaneers Betting Preview

Record: 12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS, 9-8 O/U
Key Players: QB Tom Brady, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Mike Evans, TE Rob Gronkowski, LB Shaq Barrett, NT Vita Vea
Notable Trend: Buccaneers are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games against opponents coming off a SU loss.

Unlike the Eagles, Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers opted to pick to play their starters in Week 18. They ended up winning and improved their playoff seeding in the process. However, if the Buccaneers are to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, quarterback Tom Brady will likely need to lean on some unfamiliar targets. Along with losing Chris Godwin to a torn ACL, the Bucs also lost the services of Antonio Brown in a well-documented saga. Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski are now the only real established targets Brady has at his disposal. Wideouts Tyler Johnson and Breshad Perriman are the two most likely candidates to step up in the passing game.

Tampa Bay will get a big boost offensively with the return of lead running back Leonard Fournette. The Bucs activated him to return from IR on Wednesday and he is expected to be active for Sunday’s Wild Card matchup. The Buccaneers will attempt to counter the Eagles’ rushing attack with a stacked defensive front that allowed only 92.5 rushing yards per game this season. Nose tackle Vita Vea and linebacker Shaq Barrett are just two of several studs in the front seven. While the Bucs are vulnerable in the secondary, one has to wonder if Philadelphia’s passing attack is even capable of exposing this weakness.

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Picks

Eagles +9.5 (-125) ★★★
Under 46 (-110) ★★★
Eagles Second Half Team Total Over 8.5 (-115) ★★
Jalen Hurts Passing Yards Under 197.5 (-115) ★★★★
Same-Game Parlay: Rob Gronkowski Anytime Touchdown & Alternate Total Under 52.5 (+250) ★★

SEE ALSO: NFL Parlay Picks for Wild Card Weekend

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Predictions

Eagles +9.5 (-125)

A lot has changed for both of these teams since the two met back on Oct. 14. The Eagles were yet to fully commit to running the football at that point, evidenced by their 19 total carries as a team. While it won’t be easy to rely solely on the ground game against the stout Bucs run defense, there is a reason why the Eagles led the NFL in rushing yards per game. Quarterback Jalen Hurts gets a ton of love in the fantasy football world, but he lacks the skills to be a solid passer in the NFL. However, Hurts' dual-threat rushing abilities is the basis for Philadelphia’s offensive game plan. Along with a backfield mix of Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Jordan Howard, Hurts and the Eagles averaged 159.7 yards per game on the ground.

While a weak schedule has been an argument used against them, note that the Eagles were a top-3 adjusted run offense based on DVOA metrics. Add in the loss of two key pass-catchers for Tampa Bay and the expectation for wind and rain and Philadelphia should keep the final margin within a touchdown.

Under 46 (-110)

There are two key reasons to follow the line move and play the Under. For starters, the two teams offer strong resistance to each other’s primary offensive game plans. While the success of the Buccaneers’ run defense was documented above, the Eagles were a top-10 adjusted defense against the pass this season.

In addition, bad weather could hinder the scoring from both sides that much more. The teams combined for 50 total points on a clear October night in their first meeting. Rain and 20 MPH winds figure to reduce that total on Sunday.

Eagles Second Half Team Total Over 8.5 (-115)

The Eagles were actually the second-highest scoring team after halftime in the NFL this season. Philadelphia averaged 14.8 points scored in the second half of games this season and scored 15 in a comeback bid against the Bucs back in October. Hurts has almost been at his best when the offense is in scramble mode late in games. With the Eagles likely chasing in this game, this is a good value play.

Jalen Hurts Passing Yards Under 197.5 (-115)

While the bad weather in the forecast for Tampa certainly plays into betting the under on Jalen Hurts’ passing yardage prop, it’s also worth pointing out that this is a line that he has rarely exceeded all season. Bettors are likely getting a boost from Hurts’ final three games played during the regular season when he had 296, 199, and 214 passing yards respectively. Those matchups came against an awful Washington pass defense and the lowly New York Giants. Prior to that, Hurts topped 200 yards passing only once in a seven-game stretch. The Buccaneers held him to just 115 yards in the first meeting between the teams.

Same-Game Parlay: Rob Gronkowski Anytime Touchdown & Alternate Total Under 52.5 (+250)

No team gave up more receiving touchdowns to tight ends this season than the Eagles at 14. Although Rob Gronkowski missed the regular-season matchup between these teams, the Bucs still had a TE find the end zone as Tom Brady connected with O.J. Howard. With two primary receivers no longer in the mix, Gronkowski will become an even more prominent red-zone weapon in this game and so long as Tampa Bay stays alive in the postseason. 

When we combine Gronk’s TD prop with the under on the alternate total of 52.5, we get a parlay with healthy +250 odds. Why take 52.5 as our alternate total? Well, 52 is actually a key number for NFL totals handicapping as 28-24 is a common score combination. The overall defensive matchup should prevent this Wild Card matchup from getting anywhere close to that mark.

SEE ALSO: All picks and odds. Be sure to check out SportsbookReview.com’s community forums and betting tools.

Eagles-Buccaneers picks made on 1/13/2022 at 5:41 p.m. ET