Thanks to the San Francisco 49ers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
In the Wild Card Round, they’ll face a familiar opponent in the Philadelphia Eagles, who they managed to beat earlier this season on Thursday Night Football.
Here, the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds in the NFC collide.
What are the best bets to make?
Richard’s Prediction Picks Record: 15-16 (+1.40 units)
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 5 p.m. EST on January 14, 2022.
Eagles vs Buccaneers Prediction NFC Wild Card Playoffs
Of course, the elephant in the room is that Antonio Brown is no longer a Buccaneer. His contributions would have been exponentially more important with the loss of fellow wide receiver Chris Godwin, but here we are.
Brown was injured for a number of weeks, but he did play in the last Buccaneers and Eagles meeting in Week 6. In that game, Brown had nine catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, which are, again, contributions that will be missed.
In that last game, the Buccaneers managed a 28-22 win, though that came on the road. That game also featured a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who did not play his best ball, throwing for just 115 yards, one touchdown, and an interception.
According to Pro Football Focus, Hurts was a bit lucky, too, in that he had three turnover-worthy plays.
Since that game, Hurts has played more good than bad football, but he’s still far from setting the world on fire. Per PFF, Hurts ranks as the 16th best passing quarterback in the NFL.
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Hurts is definitely among the better running quarterbacks in the league, ranking second in that category per PFF’s grading system of all quarterbacks with a minimum of 200 dropbacks.
The exciting aspect to Hurts, though, in addition to his rushing, is his willingness to throw the ball downfield, as he averaged a 9.3-yard depth of target this season.
On medium/deep passes (10 yards or more downfield), Hurts completed 81 of 156 attempts for 1,745 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions.
Going up against a Tom Brady-led passing attack, regardless of what weapons he has, that is a tendency that Hurts will need to utilize in addition to his maneuverability.
Hurts and the Eagles may fall short, but they won’t go down without a fight on the road.
Prediction: Buccaneers 28, Eagles 23
Eagles vs Buccaneers Best Bets NFC Wild Card Playoffs
Best Bet: Eagles +8.5 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
The prediction above is quite similar to the final score of their Week 6 matchup, but things have changed. Sure, the Buccaneers will be at home in this one and they’re in the playoffs with something to prove given everything that has happened to the team in recent weeks.
Make no mistake: The Buccaneers will win, but this is a team that is hurting at the skill positions, and the Eagles have shown that they can hang with Tampa Bay in the past.
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The Eagles are excellent in the trenches, ranking fifth in run blocking, pass blocking, and pass rush. However, where they do falter is in run defense, where they rank 25th.
With running back Leonard Fournette likely set to return and a lack of pass-catching options outside of Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski for Brady to rely on, the running game could be a major part of the game plan that should assist in not only draining the clock but keeping the game closer.
The matchup between the Eagles pass rush and the Buccaneers pass-blocking unit is going to be an excellent one, and it’ll be interesting to see how Hurts handles a Tampa Bay cornerback group that, while solid, can be beaten.
This game could easily see the Buccaneers jump out early lead and the Eagles chipping away toward the end for the backdoor cover.
Check out more of our Eagles vs Buccaneers Predictions
Best Bet: Over 45.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
With a fresh Fournette, the Buccaneers will look to run the ball to help offset their lack of playmakers on the outside. While this would usually lead me to believe in the under, Fournette has been so effective this season and the idea of him being “fresh" is going to make the offense operate even better.
Even if the Buccaneers are able to use the running game to their advantage and utilize play-action with the limited weapons they have, the Eagles have a weapon of their own in Hurts and also in the passing game with wide receiver DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. Smith has seen more than 100 targets this season and Goedert has more than 70.
This Eagles team has the ability to not only hang with the Buccaneers, but if they fall behind, they have the pieces and tools to make up for lost ground, as mentioned in the previous section pertaining to a backdoor cover for our NFL bet of the day.