Eagles face daunting Thursday task of hosting Buccaneers’ high-powered offense

Jalen Hurts Eagles
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles’ reward for that sloppy, comeback victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday is a short week and a primetime matchup against Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field.

Not exactly an ideal reward.

Nick Sirianni’s men are 6.5-point underdogs against the 4-1 Bucs, who are coming off of a blowout 45-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 5.

“We understand what’s at stake. We understand who’s coming in, especially defensively,” safety Rodney McLeod told the Eagles’ official website. “They have a high-powered offense led by Tom Brady and it’s at home. We want to get that win.”

High-powered is the perfect word to use as the seemingly immortal Brady continues to rip opposing defenses apart.

Through five games this season, the Buccaneers’ offense has gained the third-most total yards and has scored the third-most points in the NFL. As for Brady, he’s leading the league’s top aerial attack, ranking No. 1 in the game in completions (149), attempts (225), and yards (1,767); not to mention 15 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions.

At this current pace, Brady is on pace to throw for 6,007 yards and 51 touchdowns in the 17-game NFL season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“Tom is very experienced. He knows where he wants to go with the ball so we have to be very detailed in our initial alignments, our disguises, just to create 0.2 of a difference for him,” McLeod continued. “He’s very talented, very skilled, one of the best to ever play this game, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us, but we’ve all played him before and we know what we have to do to get the win.”

Brady certainly has an imposing cast of weapons to spread the wealth to when it comes to his receivers. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown each have 20 or more receptions and 325 or more receiving yards.

On top of all this, the Eagles are going to try to do this on short rest. So how do they prepare for a juggernaut with just three full days of rest?

“It’s to make sure you’re keeping things simple and not getting too complicated,” Sirianni said. “Because you’re not going to have the live reps of doing things you’re going to do in games. So, keep things simple. Keep it to things that guys can learn and execute that you’ve been executing all year. But then again, also be able to attack them enough where you’re going after the style of defense they are.

“So, there’s always a happy medium in that. But definitely just be able to do things that we can execute, knowing that we don’t have a lot of time to get ready for this game.”

As the Eagles’ inconsistent defense will do their best to limit a dynamic group, Philadelphia’s offense could very well be facing a shootout against Tampa Bay — which is a game it would probably like to avoid.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) and defensive end Josh Sweat (94).Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

But the Buccaneers’ defense isn’t nearly as stout as it was last season — as many saw in the Super Bowl. They rank 19th in points and first downs allowed, and 15th in total yards yielded.

What’s most eye-catching, though, is that the Bucs’ run defense is the very best in the NFL, allowing just 229 yards on the ground over five games. Their pass defense, however, is the worst in the league — allowing 1,572 yards and 13 touchdowns.

For an Eagles offense that has inexplicably been tilted toward the passing game of Jalen Hurts, that plays in their favor. The second-year quarterback has attempted at least 37 passes in each of the last three weeks.

“It’s going to be a challenge on a short week against obviously the defending Super Bowl champs,” Sirianni said. “But I’m sure glad it’s at our place and sure glad that we’ve got our fans here to support us and we look forward to the challenge that lies ahead on Thursday night.”

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Week 6 odds

  • Spread: Buccaneers -6.5
  • Over/under: 52.5
  • Buccaneers Moneyline: -275
  • Eagles Moneyline: +220

Odds courtesy of DraftKings

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