Welcome to the postseason. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. All four of Tampa’s postseason appearances, since 2020, have started off against an NFC East opponent. For the second time in the last three seasons, that NFC East opponent will be the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles will be bringing an 11-6 record into Tampa Bay. The Eagles’ record is impressive, but their play has not been.
Recently, the Eagles have performed poorly— 1-5 in their final six games. For comparison, the Buccaneers are only taking the field with a 9-8 record, but they have won five of their last six games.
Monday’s matchup will be a redo for Tampa Bay, after the two organizations met earlier in the season. Here are some things that could, should, and will play out during the rematch—
This could be the last game for some key Tampa Bay cogs.
Starting with Tampa’s head man, there have been a litany of rumors regarding Todd Bowles and his future with the Bucs beyond this season. Should the Buccaneers fail to convert another trip to the postseason into playoff victories, whether there is validity in them or not, the chants for Todd Bowles to lose his job will grow louder.
From head coach to quarterback— Baker Mayfield has only been in Tampa Bay for a short time, however, he has gone from quarterback competition, to bridge starter, to potential face of the franchise. Mayfield’s growth and the team’s growth around him has been very apparent as the season has progressed, but the passer is set to be a free agent this offseason and may have done enough to garner significant interest from team’s around the league.
Tampa’s quarterback is scheduled to be a free agent and so is his top target. Mike Evans has undeniably earned a massive payday. Whether the Buccaneers step up to the plate or another organization chooses to, Evans' reliability and professionalism have been sensational and will be rewarded. Though the expectation amongst many is that the Bucs will more than likely bring Mike Evans back, nothing is guaranteed and contract negotiations have already been attempted and have fallen through.
One of the few, if not the only, player(s) on Tampa Bay's roster who is playing at a higher level than Evans is Antoine Winfield Jr. Regarding their star safety, the Buccaneers are facing a similar dilemma. Antoine Winfield Jr. may be the best player on Tampa’s roster, currently and is likely to command quite a large contract when the new league year opens.
At the linebacker position, the Buccaneers have to worry about resigning or replacing two starters. Both Lavonte David and Devin White are no longer slated to be Buccaneers moving forward. While Lavonte David and the Tampa Bay Bucs management have a long history of working through contract negotiations, there is no such history with Devin White. The embattled linebacker has come under a good deal of fire in the last year. From an offseason trade request to a difficult season on the field, which has led to fans becoming skeptics.
Jason Licht deserves credit— Over the last few seasons, Tampa Bay has done a phenomenal job of bringing back key pieces. This year has the chance to be more of the same, but if the Buccaneers lose, Tampa Bay fans may not see some of the key faces they’ve grown accustomed to seeing on gamedays.
The Buccaneers should not let Mike Evans be a decoy.
Throughout the season, Mike Evans has scored touchdowns in 11 games this season. He has 13 total, but he hasn’t crossed the goal line since Tampa’s game against Jacksonville and the Bucs’ offense has been struggling. Following the team’s 30 point outing on Christmas Eve, they have scored just 22 points in two games.
Tampa Bay has one of the league’s very best and under no circumstance should the Buccaneers allow this game go by without giving their best playmaker an opportunity to make an impact.
The Eagles will try and run the ball.
The Philadelphia Eagles are quite possibly a bad 11-win team, if ever there were such a thing. After jetting out to a hot start Philadelphia has found themselves right in the middle of a collapse. Even in turmoil, a win is still possible— The Eagles talent level is high and they are still less than 12 months from a Super Bowl appearance.
In week three, the Eagles flew down to Tampa and relied on their run game to trounce the Buccaneers. Philadelphia’s offensive line bullied the Buccaneers’ defense. D’Andre Swift ran for 130 yards, while the Eagles totaled over 200. Jalen Hurts’ performance, in a game where Carlton Davis did not play and Jamel Dean left early, was unremarkable. Even with A.J. Brown gashing the Buccaneers for 131 yards, Hurts tossed two interceptions.
The Eagles are a team in disarray and they’re playing a team they’ve already defeated. The clear formula for Philadelphia is to try and push for a duplicate performance, by turning to run game and allowing it to be their strength again.
Do you agree with our list? Do you disagree? What are some things you think could, should, and will happen this week?
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