The Philadelphia Eagles are now just a few hours away from their playoff clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All eyes will be fixed on Raymond James Stadium this evening, but there’s still time to make some bold Eagles predictions ahead of the matchup.
Jalen Hurts makes a statement
When it comes to thriving under pressure, Jalen Hurts is better than most. His Super Bowl heroics were undone by a struggling defense 11 months ago, but Hurts has stepped up time and time again when the Eagles need him most, and tonight is another of those scenarios.
The Eagles quarterback hasn’t been at his best over the last few weeks, but it’s still unclear how much of it falls on his shoulders. With that said, a shot at redemption tonight comes against a lackluster pass defense and one he threw for 277 Yards against in their week 3 win.
My first bold prediction is for Hurts to bounce back in a big way, throwing for 300 yards, 2 touchdowns, and rushing for another.
Roll out the ‘HIM’ memes…
It’s too EZ for OZ
A.J Brown is out this week which means DeVonta Smith will step up into some WR1-sized shoes. The good news is that he’s more than capable of wearing them, but as for that second spot, Quez Watkins appears to be in-line to get some extra reps…which hasn’t gone down well.
Olamide Zaccheaus has flashed his potential on several plays this year. Outside of a bizarre incident a few weeks ago, OZ has been able to produce in a pinch, unlike Watkins, who has struggled with drops and consistency for the last couple of years.
Even if OZ ends up taking on a WR3 role today, his expanded looks should net him some extra targets, and a shot is all he needs. I think he’ll put up 50+ yards and a receiving touchdown in tonight’s game against the team he netted his first Eagles score against.
Byard breaks the Bucs
The Eagles’ secondary has been wounded all year. Just as one domino gets picked up, another one falls. Reed Blankenship is questionable for today’s game and Sydney Brown is out with a torn ACL. In the event that neither can play, we can expect Avonte Maddox to drop back to Safety while the likes of Josh Jobe and Kelee Ringo split the slot reps.
Whichever way decide to you slice it, there is some added pressure on Kevin Byard, the lone wolf at Safety, to make an impact.
He’s been on the team long enough to have outgrown the teething problems, and he’s combined for 20 tackles over the last two weeks.
My third bold prediction is that Byard breaks out for an interception and registers a 10+ tackle game against the Buccaneers.
The only Swift that matters
The Eagles met the Bucs earlier this year right in the heart of D’Andre Swift’s historic run. He netted 130 yards that day and went on to of course smash through the 1,000-yard mark and earn some Pro Bowl honors along the way.
While Tampa Bay will be adamant to ensure that doesn’t happen again, Swift has been a joy to watch this season, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. His decision-making has been exceptional and his ability to burst through holes makes it look like the game is in slow motion.
The Bucs might slow him down, but it’s only preventing the inevitable. The Eagles need to establish the run, and, as a result, I’m predicting Swift to put up 75+ yards and a touchdown.
Jordan Davis silences the doubters
One Eagles player who has been catching strays as of late is Jordan Davis. The second-year defensive tackle has been hounded for being ‘overweight’ and ‘lacking effort’. He now faces a Bucs offensive line that has really kicked on this year. Plugging rushing lanes and opening holes for he likes of Jalen Carter might not be enough to earn him the praise he genuinely deserves, but who’s to say he can’t end up on the stat sheet?
My final bold prediction is for Davis to force a fumble and register a sack, silencing his critics and showing why the Eagles were wise to invest a first-round pick on him last year.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum