The Eagles will play Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here are the game predictions from the Eagles beat writers for Week 6.
By some miracle the Eagles outlasted the Panthers and my perfect record remains. Allow me to gloat, as I am typically not the best prognosticator. But until the Birds prove me wrong, I’m sticking with my preseason predictions. This week wasn’t as hard as last. The Bucs are clearly the superior team. And while I think Nick Sirianni’s offense can’t possibly look as woeful as it did in Charlotte, I also don’t believe Jonathan Gannon’s defense would have rebounded from two dreadful outings if it were not for Sam Darnold.
All that being said, Tampa isn’t invincible and Tom Brady can be contained (see: Bucs-Patriots, Week 4) if he’s pressured. The Eagles’ D-line came to life Sunday, but the Bucs’ O-line is better than the Panthers’, and Brady gets the ball out as quickly as any quarterback. He will find the weak spots in the back seven, and there are many in the middle of the field.
As for the other side of the ball, Todd Bowles’ Tampa Bay defense will likely crowd the box and force Jalen Hurts to make downfield throws as Carolina did. He can do it with certain routes, but Sirianni just has to pick his spots and be creative enough in the run/short pass game to offset the Bucs’ aggressiveness. Hurts has to make them pay, and he has downfield weapons with DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins.
But it’s likely going to take a near-perfect effort and the Eagles just aren’t there yet. Maybe they never will be under Sirianni, but a loss here — maybe even a blowout — shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Prediction: Bucs 31, Eagles 17
» READ MORE: Eagles win-loss predictions for the 2021 season
Weird stuff happens on Thursday nights, but how weird?
Against Carolina, the Eagles’ defense got a break from facing elite quarterbacks and once again looked like a group that is capable of keeping the team in games even when the offense struggles. Will a matchup against Tom Brady prove the group’s mettle, or expose them once again?
The Bucs are coming off a 45-point barrage against a man-heavy Miami Dolphins defense. The Eagles will likely continue giving zone-heavy looks Thursday night and for good reason. Switching things up on a short week with limited practice time is a recipe for disaster. Still, there isn’t a coverage Brady hasn’t seen a million times. Can the Eagles’ secondary and linebackers match up with the uber-talented Buccaneers receiving corps without the trickery? It’s hard to have faith.
On the flip side of things, the Eagles’ offense looked listless for much of the game against the Panthers. Some late-game heroics from Jalen Hurts overcame 3½ quarters of stagnation from the offense, but the group will need a more complete effort this week.
Vita Vea is the type of defensive tackle who could present challenges to Jason Kelce. He can line up as a nose tackle right over Jason Kelce and at 6-foot-4, 350 pounds, he has the size and strength to overpower the Eagles’ undersized, athletic center. Vea has only half a sack this season, but he has gotten 12 pressures and three quarterback hits so far.
Never say never, especially on Thursday night. But it’s not my job to predict the unpredictable.
Prediction: Bucs 32, Eagles 17
The Eagles defense is a scrappy bunch. The veteran-led unit showed Sunday at Carolina it can still cause enough havoc to disrupt opposing quarterbacks. The Eagles pressured Sam Darnold with eight quarterback hits and three sacks, allowing the secondary to make plays on the back end. Tampa Bay’s offensive line presents a larger challenge, but the Eagles will have a fighting chance to disrupt the Bucs offense. A lot will depend on the battle in the trenches, and Javon Hargrave is playing like the best interior lineman in the league right now.
Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts have yet to find a sweet spot in the offense. Considering the early offensive struggles, it’s tough imagining this roster has enough firepower to keep pace with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Prediction: Bucs 33, Eagles 21