Going into Week 3 of the NFL season, the 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles will travel to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams are going into the game undefeated, and it will be crucial for both sides to try and stay that way after Monday Night Football in Tampa Bay. The Eagles want to keep racking up wins before the brutal stretches of their schedule begin, and the Buccaneers are locked into a tough race for the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints at 2-0 as well. However, the Buccaneers have surprised some people with their strong start and it’s clear now that the Buccaneers are still a very talented team that will be fighting for the playoffs. If the Eagles decide to sleepwalk through this game, it could mean a rude awakening.
Top 4 Week 3 Eagles vs Buccaneers Picks
Buccaneers Offense Is Surprisingly Good?
Going into the season, many believed the Buccaneers offense would be the thing that holds back a talented defense. However, through two weeks of the season, the Buccaneers offense has looked efficient and even dangerous at times. The questions this offseason started with the offensive line, where many expected one of the league’s worst units. Yet, they played well in their games against the Vikings in Week 1 and the Chicago Bears in Week 2. They have been a legitimately good pass-protecting unit, only allowing one sack through two games so far. Their run-blocking has been up and down but had good moments opening running lanes at times last week against the Bears.
But the other offseason question surrounding the Buccaneers was the addition of starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has been really good for the team this year, showcasing great decisiveness and accuracy. In the game against the Bears, Mayfield finished 26 of his 37 passes with 317 passing yards and a crucial touchdown pass on 3rd and long to Mike Evans in the third quarter. Not only has Mayfield been super decisive in reading the defense and taking what they give him, but he has also shown glimpses of evading rushers in the pocket and extending plays. The Buccaneers through two games have committed zero turnovers and Mayfield deserves a large amount of credit for that. However, the crux of this offense has been Mayfield’s willingness and ability to hit Buccaneers stars, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in single coverage.
Baker mayfield today:
114.5 passer Rating
And this play
— ᴊᴀᴇ (@OkieFBfan) September 17, 2023
The Eagles Cannot Give Chances to Evans or Godwin
While Mayfield and the Buccaneers have largely played smart and safe football, Mayfield has not been shy from challenging defensive backs who dare to cover Mike Evans or Chris Godwin one-on-one. While sometimes it can end in overly aggressive throws by Baker Mayfield, it has also tended to end up in big plays for the Buccaneers. For example, Mayfield threw one up to Mike Evans who did a good job of separating from the defensive back one-on-one and then taking a big catch for extra yards putting the Buccaneers at 1st and goal.
70 yards for Mike Evans!
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
Mike Evans torched the Bears last week with six catches for 171 yards and a touchdown to boot. Evans and Mayfield consistently punished the Bears with explosive plays whenever they covered Evans one-on-one. The Buccaneers offensive scheme won’t blow anyone away, but their style of football with being efficient with short passes often forces defenses into one-on-one situations. And while Godwin has not had a big day yet, he is the caliber of player that can produce a big day as well if facing single coverage. They can methodically drive down the field but also take advantage of big plays with their stars when they feel they are not being respected enough by the defense. That combination will make any offense successful around the league.
How Will a Banged-Up Eagles Secondary Fare?
There is optimism around the Eagles team that safety Reed Blankenship and cornerback James Bradberry will be available after missing last week’s game. Those two would be welcomed back into the lineup on the heels of bad performances by backup corners Josh Jobe and Mario Goodrich last game. In the game against the Vikings, the Eagles let up a number of yards in the second half through the air and that doesn’t seem like it bodes well against another great receiving core this week. However, with a healthy Slay and or Bradberry it might be enough of a challenge for a stud like Evans to keep him from single-handedly winning the game for the Buccaneers.
However, it might be most effective for the Eagles to mainly play different types of zone coverage and challenge Mayfield to surgically pick them apart. While Mayfield has played well this year, the Eagles defense will be a challenge unlike what he has seen against the Bears and the Vikings. They might give up more yardage than they want, but it would be beneficial to not give the Buccaneers an easy get-out-of-jail-free card by Mayfield throwing a 50-50 ball to Evans or Godwin. However, don’t be shocked if the Eagles find some more problems from another underdog this week.
Week 3 Eagles vs Buccaneers Picks: The Bottom Line
Eagles Win 27-23
At the end of the day, this game will not come down to schematics but will come down to whose stars will be able to shine the most. On the defensive side for the Buccaneers, Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, and Antoine Winfield are absolutely game-changers with several other very good players like Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis, Devin White, and more. The defense will not make it easy for the Eagles offense at all, especially the way they have been playing lately. In addition, the Buccaneers have seemingly been great at halftime adjustments in the first two weeks on defense, as they were all over both the Vikings and Bears passing games. Expect the same level of expertise from Bowles, and for this game to be a rock fight in the second half.
However, while the Buccaneers offensive line has played well this season, the biggest test for them will be going against this Eagles defensive line. All in all, the Eagles defense should be able to wreak enough havoc on the Buccaneers offensive line and cover their star receivers enough for them not to take over the game. The Eagles should sneak out with another win, but again, maybe not so convincingly.
Other Eagles vs Buccaneers Picks (Current Record: 1-5) (All Lines via MetaBet)
First Half Spread: Eagles -3
Over/Under: Over 46
A.J. Brown anytime TD Scorer: +140
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