The books tagged Tampa Bay as a 9.5-point road dog ahead of its Week 1 contest at New Orleans, but even after Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped 417 passing yards and accounted for five touchdowns, oddsmakers remain unconvinced he can replicate the feat at home. Granted, with the defending Super Bowl champions traveling to Tampa this Sunday, Fitzpatrick isn’t going to be as comfortable in the pocket. The Eagles opened at and remain 3-point road favorites with the early Buccaneers moneyline +135 and O/U 44 points.
THE EAGLES DEFENSE IS THE REAL DEAL
Fletcher Cox, Chris Long and Jordan Hicks have to be licking their chops. The trio sacked Matt Ryan four times, while the rest of the pass rush tallied 13 QB hits and 10 pass deflections in the season opener despite the fact most believe the Falcons possess a top-five offensive line. Philly’s pass rush is about as beloved as its famous cheesesteaks.
The Eagles now face what Pro Football Focus labeled the 11th-worst offensive line, but don’t tell that to the Buccaneers, who didn’t allow a sack to New Orleans’ pass rushers. Fitz was only hit twice on Sunday. That won’t be the case this week.
The Eagles defense was so good against the NFC South power, they entered Monday ranked top five in opposing quarterback completion percentage, sacks and rush yards allowed, and top 10 in fewest yards per pass attempt. The proverbial cherry on top was the fact the Falcons were only 4-for-15 on third-down attempts (26 percent) and 1-for-5 inside the red zone.
NEXT LEVEL TRENDS: EAGLES PASSING
Only the Nathan Peterman-Josh Allen quarterback-by-committee passed for fewer yards (70) than Nick Foles’ 119 against the Falcons. Carson Wentz’s health and impending return is trending in the right direction, but the Eagles’ top trigger has already been ruled out for Week 2.
Even before the injury scare a few weeks ago, Foles didn’t look crisp in preseason. A 50.7 QB rating in the season opener at home against the Falcons does little to qualm any lingering concerns.
The good news for Eagles backers is even if Foles can’t mimic Drew Brees’ Week 1 stat line against the Buccaneers (37-for-45 for 439 yards and three touchdowns) and the pass game remains conservative, there is reason for optimism. Since 1995, the Eagles are a relative coin flip against the spread, 71-75-2, when their quarterback passes for fewer than 200 yards.
BUCS INJURY NOTE: Starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves had to leave the game against the Saints due to a shoulder injury. Tampa’s secondary is already thin after Brent Grimes injured his groin in practice late last week. Grimes is expected to miss several weeks.
NEXT LEVEL TRENDS: BUCCANEERS RUSHING
For as good as the Buccaneers offense looked against the Saints, lead running back Peyton Barber posted a ho-hum stat line of 69 yards on 19 carries for 3.6 yards per rush. If you count just the running backs’ production, the Bucs finished with 76 rushing yards on 22 carries. Not great.
They now have to face an Eagles rush defense that held Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to 55 yards on 15 carries or 3.6 yards per rush. Barber has his work cut out for him and so do bettors looking to find a reason to back the Bucs.
Since 1995, the Bucs are 23-102 straight up and 30-91-4 against the spread when rushing for fewer than 80 yards.
TAMPA, FLORIDA FORECAST
Partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 90s, humidity near 70 percent, but only a 20 percent chance of rain.
You are now boarding the Ryan Fitzmagic carpet ride. The “ups” are exhilarating and can show you the world, a fantasy football win and ATS cover, but the “dips” are stomach-churning, sloppy and tough to watch. Against a top-tier defense like the Eagles, Fitzpatrick is not going to have all day to scan the field for DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans as he did in Week 1. He’ll be under duress and will come back down to earth. I’m leaning the Eagles -3 and believe the Eagles offense improves and the Buccaneers offense regresses to the mean. So much so, I’m leaning the UNDER on the 44 total, too.