The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles will collide on Thursday Night Football to kick off what appears to be an exciting Week 6 slate of football games. The 2-3 Eagles will look to keep the good times rolling after they secured a surprising three-point victory over the Carolina Panthers a week ago. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers represent a different challenge altogether for a young Eagles team that is still finding its footing in 2021.
This contest has the star power and overall recipe to deliver some must-watch television. We’ve noted three player-versus-player matchups we’re particularly excited to monitor.
EAGLES TES VS. BUCCANEERS LBS
The Buccaneers are entering this contest with several injuries, none of which are more impactful than the absence of linebacker Lavonte David. Largely regarded as the best linebacker in the NFL today, David’s injury leaves the Buccaneers with a sizable hole up the middle of their usually strong and stout defense, particularly in coverage.
On the other side of this battle sits the fearful tight end pairing of Dallas Goedert (if he plays) and Zach Ertz, who have combined to account for 376 receiving yards and three touchdowns through five matches. The Eagles will look to get Ertz and/or Goedert matched up with Buccaneers linebacker Kevin Minter, who is expected to slot into the starting lineup. Defending the pass is not Minter’s strong suit and the Eagles have the horses to expose his weakness.
JAVON HARGRAVE VS. BUCCANEERS IOL
Fletcher Cox is often the first name discussed when analyzing the interior of Philadelphia’s defensive line. While Cox remains a player worth paying attention to, his running mate Hargrave is the one making all of the noise this season. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Hargrave has been downright dominant this season while accounting for an astounding six sacks, just one behind Myles Garrett and his league-leading seven takedowns.
The Buccaneers employ an excellent offensive line, but the likes of Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet, and Alex Cappa are in for the challenge of their lives given the rhythm Hargrave currently finds himself in.
EAGLES WRS VS BUCCANEERS DBS
Injuries are unfortunately plentiful on this Buccaneers defense, and there are other opportunities for offensive coordinator Shane Steichen to exploit other than the tight ends versus linebackers battle we discussed above.
Tampa Bay’s leaky secondary is giving up a league-worst 314.4 passing yards per contest. With the likes of Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting on injured reserve, and with star sophomore safety Antoine Winfield Jr. slated to miss this match, the Buccaneers will be fielding a patched-together unit on the back end that is ripe for the taking. Look for DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins to get involved early and often as the Eagles look to keep pace with Brady and the Buccaneers’ explosive offense.
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