So, it’s confirmed. The Eagles will meet the Bucs in the wildcard round, travelling to Tampa to take on Tom Brady. Here are some quick thoughts about the road that lies ahead.
Tom Brady allowing the Eagles to live rent free
As we all know, Tom Brady hasn’t exactly taken the loss in Super Bowl 52 very well. Whether it’s the continued reluctance to share sportsmanship to Nick Foles, or jokes by Peyton Manning, it’s a sore spot for Brady, who has just turned in a ridiculous year (shock).
In six games against the Eagles, Brady has tossed 12 touchdowns, 3 picks, and thrown for 1,821 yards. That’s pretty damn good. Given that Jonathan Gannon’s defense has struggled against QB’s who rank in the upper-echelon, the idea of facing a fired up Tom Brady isn’t too appealing.
The Bucs are banged up
It’s not like Tom Brady has much to work with. No Chris Godwin, no Antonio Brown. The backfield is also running on fumes.
This could see a surge of targets rot Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans, meaning that the defense is going to be tested in a big way. Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox are going to need to bring their A-game next week, and there has to be hope that the linebacking corps can hold its shape, knowing that a wild Gronk is going to pick apart the open spaces with ease.
If the Eagles can at least marginalize what Mike Evans is able to do, they’re going to force Brady to play a marginalized game. The man is still the league’s best quarterback (in history) and is picking part defenses at an alarming rate.
It’s going to take a big outing from Gannon and his defense, who haven’t really faced a mildly competent quarterback not named Dak Prescott in around 9 weeks…
This is going to be the biggest test of Gannon’s career.
The Eagles are a very different team now
With that said, the Eagles are a very different team to the one that stomached a one-possession loss back in week 6. They’re now a rushing juggernaut and playing keep-ball might be the perfect recipe here to keep Brady and the offense off the field.
The Bucs have a strong defense, but if the Eagles backups can move the line of scrimmage against the Dallas starters, then the starting five should have no problem against Tampa, just as they haven’t against any opponent faced this year.
With a dynamic offense being at the center of the teams’ identity, the Eagles will go into this game red-hot and bearing an underdog mentality.
The Bucs could well be trending in the opposite direction and if there’s ever a team looking slightly vulnerable, it’s the defending champs.
Next week promises to be a very fun matchup. Nerve racking, but fun.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire