Philadelphia could not come back against Tampa Bay on October 14, but now they will bet on their running game to not face another 28-7 deficit.
The philadelphia eagles they are a better team than the one defeated in the week 6 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Still, there are plenty of reasons for the defending Super Bowl champions to be 8.5-point favorites Sunday in the Wild Card Round matchup of the National Conference. At the top of the list is the fact that Bucs easily defeated the eagles in the first confrontation.
The Buccaneers (13-4) built a 28-7 third-quarter lead against philadelphia (9-8) and held on to win 28-22 on the road in that matchup on Thursday night, Oct. 14.
The defeat led to a shift in the offensive strategy of the eagles. A week later they lost again to the Las Vegas Raiders to make it 2-5, but responded with a 7-2 record after that to clinch their playoff berth, before resting their starters on Saturday night, in a 51-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
“Watching the last game [contra Tampa], I feel that it is not the same team that we have now. Player-wise it’s very similar, but the way this team attacks is completely different,” tight end Dallas Goedert said.
Goedert and right tackle Lane Johnson were not present for the game in October; the Bucs they didn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“He started to change in that match [en Las Vegas], as far as who we were and what we were doing,” head coach Nick Sirianni said.
Sirianni said that he and his coaching staff used extra days after the setback against Tampa Bay to rethink his approach, and build the strategy around a dominant offensive line and bet more on the rush.
philadelphia he finished with the best rushing game in the NFL, averaging 159.7 yards per game.
Against the Bucs, quarterback Jalen Hurts made plays with his legs (10 carries, 44 yards), but Miles Sanders was the only running back to touch the ball. He had nine carries for 56 yards and only one of his touches came in the first half.
Hurts, who at 23 will be the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game for the eagles, showed signs of maturity as a passer as his second season in the league progressed. He only threw for 115 yards against Tampa Bay, with a 55.8 passer rating that was his second-lowest of the year. In his last three appearances of the season he posted passer ratings of 110.4, 102.5 and 90.9.
Of the differences in Hurts, Sirianni said: “I think they’re significant. Jalen is a student of the game. He’s got a lot of character and those types of players who love football are going to hit their ceiling.”