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Countdown to Kickoff: Buccaneers-Eagles, Wild Card Round 2023-2024 

The Buccaneers will take on the Eagles in a win-or-go-home matchup on Monday Night Football … Key stats, lineup notes and more

C2K Wild Card Eagles

The stage is set. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles will cap off Super Wild Card Weekend with a Monday Night Football showdown at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay came out victorious in five of its last six games to take sole possession of the NFC South crown for the third-straight year. The only team standing in the way of advancement is the reigning NFC Champion Eagles, who have dropped five of their last six. The Eagles have trailed for more game time since Week 13 than they did from Weeks 1-12, including the worst turnover margin in the league since Week 13 (-8). The last time the two teams met, the Eagles posted 201 rushing yards in a 25-11 decision and held Tampa Bay to a 2023-low 174 yards. The Bucs will vie for redemption on the gridiron in a win-or-go-home contest on Monday night. After a week of preparation, here is what the Wild Card matchup comes down to:

4 Stats That Matter

  • Jalen Hurts had 15 rushing touchdowns in 2023, tied for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season all-time. The Buccaneers were one of the few teams to get a stop on the Philadelphia "tush push" in 2023. In Week Three, Hurts rushed for 0 yards on third and goal from the Tampa Bay one-yard line on a quarterback sneak attempt.
  • Bucs' Mike Evans is tied for the NFL lead with 13 receiving touchdowns in 2023 (third career season with 13-plus). He has the second-most deep receiving touchdowns (seven) in the NFL in 2023. The Eagles' defense has allowed 252.7 pass yards per game in 2023 (second-most in the NFL, behind Washington). Philadelphia's defense has allowed 300-plus passing yards in seven games in 2023 (most in the NFL).
  • Baker Mayfield had a career-high 4,044 pass yards and 28 passing touchdowns in 2023 (both top 10 in the NFL). He joined Tom Brady as the only Tampa Bay quarterbacks with 4,000-plus passing yards and a 90-plus passer rating.
  • Jalen Hurts is averaging just 35.6 rush yards per game in 2023 (averaged 51.5 rush yards per game from 2021-2022). He has three games with 50-plus rush yards in 2023 (seven-plus in each of his previous two seasons). Tampa Bay has allowed 13.2 rush yards per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2023 (fourth-fewest in the NFL).

3 Lineup Notes

  • On Saturday afternoon, the Bucs listed three players as questionable for Monday night's matchup, including quarterback Baker Mayfield (ankle/ribs), linebacker K.J. Britt (calf) and cornerback Josh Hayes (quad/knee). The most glaring concern are the ribs and ankle injuries that quarterback Baker Mayfield has sustained over the previous two weeks. Those ailments limited him in practice this week, but the team is optimistic that Mayfield will be on the field Monday night, with over 48 hours of recovery time left before kickoff. "Obviously, he hasn't been hit yet, so we're going to try to keep him clean. But he's feeling good. He's ready to go," said Todd Bowles. In addition, defensive lineman Mike Greene (calf) was ruled out.
  • As for the Eagles, they are dealing with an injury to the quarterback as well. Jalen Hurts is still nursing a dislocated finger in his throwing hand that he suffered in Sunday's loss to the Giants. He upgraded to full participation on Friday and Saturday and will play against Tampa Bay.
  • In addition, for Philadelphia, the club will be without All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Brown due to a knee injury.Head Coach Nick Sirianni said it would be a collective group effort to replace Brown's production on Monday. Rookie safety Sydney Brown is out for the year with a knee injury and starting safety Reed Blankenship did not practice all week with a groin injury that he suffered in the Week 18 loss against the Giants. He is listed as questionable and Sirianni noted that he will be a game-time decision. 

2 Challenges Presented by the Eagles

In Week Three, the Eagles won the battle in the trenches on both sides of the football to come out with a tally in the win column. Philadelphia boasts three Pro Bowl players along the offensive line including center Jason Kelce, right tackle Lane Johnson and left guard Landon Dickerson. All set the tone in the Eagles' run game, as Kelce paves the way with seal blocks and pulls, while Johnson possesses the athleticism to mirror pass rushers. The offensive line dictates their RPO-based attack with dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts primarily working out of shotgun formations. Hurts can carve up defenses making off-platform throws while on the move and has underrated arm talent to launch passes downfield. Setting the edge and staying disciplined in run fits will be critical for Tampa Bay in facing Hurts and D'Andre Swift, the team's Pro Bowl running back who surpassed 1,000 yards on the season. Swift has quick acceleration and one-cut agility to leave defenses reeling. With good vision and understanding of blocking schemes, Swift will be a key focal point for Tampa Bay. When teams are forced to allocate resources to the run game, it opens things up for receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Both Brown and Smith surpassed the 1,000-yard threshold in 2023, bolstering the Eagles' attack. Brown turns into a running back in the open field with power/foot quickness and Smith is a route-running technician with elite body control.

Philadelphia's defense features Haason Reddick, one of the NFL's best edge rushers. Reddick garnered Pro Bowl recognition for his contributions on the field In 2023 with his fourth-straight campaign with 10-plus sacks. He led the team with 11 sacks, along with a career-high 70 quarterback pressures. Reddick, a twitchy athlete, possesses a vast array of speed and power moves in his arsenal and plays with tremendous flexibility and change-of-direction quickness. He plays with solid bend around the edge and will be on the Bucs' radar on Monday.  

1 Key Quote from Larry Foote

On Jalen Hurts' ability to extend plays:

"That's a big challenge for us. Everybody can be doing their technique perfectly sound, [with] the right call, but he can extend plays. That makes it difficult. We've got to sometimes cover for six-or-seven seconds. That's what the league has turned into. He's strong, too – he's not just fast and elusive, he's strong, so we're going to have to do a good job plastering and getting him down."

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