We took some time to talk with Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation about the game this week. We exchanged five questions on Wednesday, and today we're back with reasons why each team might lose.
Here's why the Eagles will lose, as written by Brandon. Check out Bleeding Green Nation to see how I think the Bucs could lose.
Why the Eagles will lose to the Bucs
Philadelphia's offense appeared to be turning a corner. The Eagles had the second most rushing yards since Week 3 heading into last Sunday's game. Then the Eagles managed to rush for a mere 83 yards on 36 carries (2.3 average) against a Dolphins run defense that ranked 28th by Football Outsiders. Now the Eagles will have the challenge of rushing attack a Tampa Bay defense that ranks fourth against the run. Making matters even worse for Philly is that they'll likely be without Ryan Mathews (concussion). Mathews has been a more efficient runner than DeMarco Murray this season.
Not being able to run the ball against the Buccaneers puts more pressure on Mark Sanchez to move the ball through the air. There's no question Sanchez is a solid backup. He went 4-4 as a starter down the stretch last season. But he's prone to turning the ball over and he can't really be expected to carry Philadelphia's offense by himself. He's not likely to get much help from his receivers, either. Riley Cooper hasn't caught a pass in more than a month. Miles Austin is playing a lot and brings pretty much nothing of value to the table.
The Eagles are a lot more reliable on this side of the ball than they are on offense. Philadelphia's defense actually ranks second overall by Football Outsiders. There isn't a lot of concern about this unit, although wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson (if he's healthy enough to play) could cause some problems.
Last year, the Eagles had a great special teams unit. It was arguably the best in the NFL. This year's special teams unit isn't so good. Kicker Caleb Sturgis hasn't always been reliable, and now veteran long snapper Jon Dorenbos is struggling. He's had at least three bad snaps since Week 7, which is a big concern. The Eagles worked out two free agent snappers earlier this week to be ready in case they have to part with Dorenbos. Elsewhere, Philadelphia's kick and punt return units haven't been very dangerous lately.