How Concerned Should the Bucs Be Facing the Eagles Sunday?
The Philadelphia Eagles enter the NFL playoffs with the number one rushing offense in the league as they head down to Tampa to play the Buccaneers.
The biggest key to the game may be something that is out of the control of both teams on the field this weekend: the weather.
The current weather forecast is a 70 percent chance of rain with 20-30 MPH winds and "high wind gusts possible."
Bucs Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans expressed concerns about the weather this Sunday when he spoke to the media:
This weather situation should concern the Bucs because the Eagles have leaned on their running attack and the physicality of their offensive line when the team won seven out of nine games to earn themselves a playoff spot. The Eagles have rushed for at least 100 yards in 15 of 17 games this season. If Tampa could have issues throwing the ball on Sunday, this favors the Eagles' offense to win the time of possession part of the game.
Former Penn State quarterback and former NFL runningback/fullback Michael Robinson thinks the Eagles' running attack is their key to success in the playoffs:
"[Eagles] are the top rushing team in the National Football League and I don't expect that to change, run the ball and when you get tired of running, run it again, when you think about throwing it, forget that and run the ball again. Jalen Hurts might have 200 Rushing Yards and I'm not joking, [Eagles need to] make this game dirty, make it nasty, you're playing with house money. Everybody thought the Philadelphia Eagles were in a rebuild mode, nobody expected this team to be here, but they got to the playoffs, they found their identity in the middle of the season, they turned into one of the most physical teams in the [NFL]."
Obviously, some hyperbole from Robinson to say Hurts could have 200 rushing yards, he is averaging 52.3 rushing yards per game but his career-high in rushing yards was 106 last season versus the New Orleans Saints. The threat of Hurts as a runner has been a major catalyst that elevates the Eagles rushing attack. Hurts has 16 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns this season in 15 starts.
Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians had high praise for the Eagles starting quarterback when he spoke to the media on Wednesday:
I have been asked several times this week if the Eagles have a realistic chance to win this Sunday and my answer has consistently been "yes if they run the ball." Well, combine the Eagles rushing attack with windy and rainy weather conditions with the reality that Tampa's players and coaches are taking this matchup seriously, Philadelphia definitely has a "puncher's chance" in this game on Sunday. Both these teams are not the same units who played each other on Thursday Night back in NFL week six and the Eagles gave not gained less than 100 yards on the ground since NFL week five.