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5 Bucs to Watch Against the Eagles in the Wild Card Round 

The Buccaneers will take on the Eagles in a Monday Night Football showdown, capping off Super Wild Card Weekend. Here are five players to watch

5 Bucs WC_

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Philadelphia Eagles will meet in the postseason for a Monday Night Football showdown, capping off Super Wild Card Weekend. Tampa Bay won five of its last six games during the 2023 regular season slate to take sole possession of the NFC South. Now, the tension and pressure is heightened in the playoffs as the Bucs will strive to continue to build momentum in January and advance in the tournament. The two clubs will go head-to-head at Raymond James Stadium and the battle in the trenches will likely dictate the outcome of the matchup. Here are five Bucs to watch on Monday night:

 Luke Goedeke

Eagles' pass rush aficionado Haason Reddick fires off the left edge more frequently, meaning he will go head-to-head with Bucs' right tackle Luke Goedeke on Monday. Reddick made his second-straight Pro Bowl in 2023 after leading the team with 11.0 sacks and is tied for the team lead with 23 quarterback hits. He has established himself as one of the top players at his position in the NFL, consistently wreaking havoc in the backfield. Reddick produced double-digit sacks this year for the fourth-straight season and is able to slip around the edge to get to the quarterback with rare closing pursuit. He possesses change-of-direction agility and athleticism in space as a tackler. He overwhelms on inside stunts and is always working to punch out the football. Reddick is lethal out of a two-point stance with forward lean and Goedeke will face another steep challenge. As Baker Mayfield continues to deal with respective ribs and ankle injuries, keeping him upright in the pocket will be paramount for Tampa Bay. Goedeke plays with above-average contact balance and body control. He is able to uproot defenders in the run game and will play a critical role on Monday night.

Lavonte David

D'Andre Swift led the charge against the Bucs in Week Three, accumulating 158 yards from scrimmage, including 107 yards on 10 carries from the right side of the line behind stalwart Lane Johnson. Swift, a draft-weekend acquisition via trade, surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing marker (229 carries for 1,049 yards) and received a Pro Bowl nod. Swift runs with tempo and possesses quick-cut agility. With a compact frame, understanding of blocking schemes and linebacker reads on inside/outside zone, quick acceleration and vision, Swift elevates the Eagles' RPO-based system. Bucs' ageless phenom Lavonte David continues to lead the Bucs' fifth ranked run defense. In 2023, David racked up a team-high 133 tackles, including 17 for loss (tied for seventh in the NFL and second among non-edge rushers). He rallies to the ball with speed and has an innate understanding of leverage/angles when taking on blocks to get downhill. With fluid footwork, lateral movements and ability to stonewall rushers in the hole, David will play a vital role in containing the Eagles' rushing attack in the Wild Card round.

Mike Evans

Philadelphia's pass defense ranks second to last in the NFL in passing yards surrendered (252.7). The Wild Card matchup could provide opportunities for the Bucs to exploit through their aerial attack. Mike Evans just earned his fifth Pro Bowl selection with a team-high 1,255 receiving yards (ninth in the NFL) and he finished the regular season tied for first in receiving touchdowns with 13. Evans has become Mayfield's go-to target downfield and if given single coverage on Monday night, No. 13 will look to exploit. The A&M product and future Hall of Fame receiver is physical at the top of routes and is able to box out defenders with his frame. With high-point skills and back-shoulder catch prowess, Evans has become a focal point in the Bucs' offense in 2023. Eagles' Darius Slay has primarily shadowed Evans when the two clubs have met and although Slay has been dealing with a knee injury that has caused him to miss the last four games, there is hope in Philadelphia that he will make his debut return in the playoffs. Despite missing five games in 2023, Slay has racked up another 57 tackles, two interceptions and 14 passes defensed. Slay plays through the hands of the receiver and leverages his length to disrupt tempo of routes. He is a physical tackler and attacks the catch window, forcing drops. Slay combines fluid hips with elite ball skills and open-field athleticism to turn interceptions into house calls.

Vita Vea

Jason Kelce garnered Pro Bowl recognition in 2023 for his contributions in the trenches for Philadelphia. Kelce is the anchor of the Eagles' front, consistently allowing one of the lowest pressure rates among centers. Kelce is quick off the ball and possesses rare quickness for an offensive lineman. He paves the way for the Eagles' rushing attack whether on pulls or seal blocks, Kelce quickly gets to the second level by displacing defensive linemen. He is technically sound and is physical at the point of attack. Kelce generates space and on Monday, he will go up against Bucs' nose tackle Vita Vea. Vea overwhelms at the point of attack and routinely commands double teams. He ranks third on the Bucs with 5.5 sacks and is tied for second with nine quarterback hits. Vea sets the tone in the Bucs' run defense and has outstanding pursuit quickness for a man of his size. He is able to quickly shed blockers to contain rushers in the hole. This matchup will be critical in dictating the pace of the game.

Shaquil Barrett

Another battle of two cornerstones will commence at the line of scrimmage on Monday as Eagles' right tackle Lane Johnson will face Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett. Lane Johnson is highly-touted as one of the best tackles in football, having achieved both consistency and longevity during his illustrious tenure. For the fifth time in his career, Johnson was named to the Pro Bowl. He has the athleticism to mirror pass rushers and sustains blocks at the second level. Johnson plays with great pad level, balance and footwork which allows him to gain effective blocking angles. Barrett has been dealing with a groin injury and having the additional day of rest this week will likely come in handy in preparation for the Eagles. Barrett has amassed 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits in 2023, with elite closing speed. He plays with a relentless motor and has diligently worked his way back from a torn Achilles suffered in October of 2022. With play recognition, speed and jaw-dropping acceleration, Barrett solidifies the Bucs' defensive line. He leverages his quickness to generate a vast array of counter moves with inside/outside versatility and a lethal spin move.


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