Despite their best early efforts – and the guys’ predictions – the Eagles left Carolina with a win over the Panthers. Instead of enjoying the win, however, the Birds have a quick turnaround, as they host, let’s see, oh, it’s just Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
How will it unfold? Read on, reader. Last week was a draw, so John retains the honor.
John (1-2-2): More than any other day of the week, Thursday night ironically defines the “any given Sunday” mantra of the NFL. Crazy things happen in the short weeks. Things like the Eagles knocking off a banged up Tom Brady and the reigning world champs.
It’s not going to happen, but Brady’s thumb injury does float the possibility of a closer game than we’d have thought a week ago. The Bucs might run the ball – imagine that! – to compensate for the injured thumb. That means that the Eagles need two things to happen on Thursday in order to win: a strong defensive line effort and a balanced offense that runs the ball enough to limit Brady’s time on the field.
I doubt it’s going to happen. This is the one team in the NFL that Nick Sirianni can legitimately make an argument to never run the ball against. The Bucs have allowed 198 rushing yards to running backs all season. That’s the best figure in the NFL (as of Monday afternoon). It’s his dream game plan. He just has to find a way to attack a defense better than he’s done all season.
Ironically, he’ll have to scheme against a Temple University-strong team for the second straight week. Head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles both have roots on North Broad Street. The other storyline to watch: does Nick Sirianni honor The Streak and ditch the highlighters for the second week in a row? Buccaneers 31, Eagles 17.
Offensive Standout: Leonard Fournette
Defensive Standout: Shaquil Barrett
Joe (2-1-2): I’ll admit it: I didn’t think the Eagles had it in them to beat Sam Darnold and the Panthers. And for three and a half quarters, I was right. Turns out, I forgot about the “Sam Darnold” part of that, and the Eagles defense did what we all know the Eagles defense is capable of doing: winning games the offense has no business being in. Shout out to the special teams as well; in a week where more extra points were missed than at any point in NFL history, the Birds blocked a punt and Jake Elliott made a 58-yard field goal. They won by three. Just saying.
Now, they should be attacking their rest, but instead, they’ll have to rest…their attack…wait…I screwed that up. Instead of preparing for a Sunday afternoon game, they’re back in action four days later, because the health and safety of players is important! And against the defending Super Bowl champions, led by the most accomplished quarterback in football history, no less.
(Did you see how deftly I navigated that paragraph to avoid saying “greatest quarterback of all time?” Sometimes, I can’t believe I give this stuff to you for free.)
Thursday night games are the national chain restaurant Appetizer Sampler of football: instead of a collection of finger foods meant to tide you over until the entrees arrive, you’re going to get a mish-mash of things that resemble football, but aren’t exactly what you’d call “good” or “satisfying.” In both cases, you certainly could make it your main course, but it wouldn’t really leave a good taste in your mouth by the end of the night.
We’ve heard about Tom Brady’s thumb injury. Well, unless we find out that he sent an ill-advised email to someone in the Washington organization back in 2014, he’s playing in this game. And if he’s playing, the Bucs are going to be heavy favorites. I mean, come on; dude just beat his old team without throwing a touchdown pass, probably intentionally.
But, it is a Thursday game, so the better team won’t blow out the bad one. In fact, I think the bad one keeps it close for just long enough to make us think there’s a chance – maybe it’s a one-score game with six minutes left – before someone commits a dumb penalty that submarines a drive, leads to a field goal, and Brady salts the game away. And since it’s Thursday, it’ll be a weird score, too. Buccaneers 26, Eagles 22.
Offensive Standout: Ryan Succop
Defensive Standout: Arryn Siposs