It might be silly to say a game falls on a single player’s shoulders. But I can’t help but feel that way when it comes to Jalen Hurts tonight.
The Birds just aren’t going to be able to rely on their defense as heavily as they did against the Carolina Panthers. There’s good reason to believe Tom Brady and his weapons are going to be able to put up quite a few points on this defense. We’ve yet to see Jonathan Gannon’s unit have a strong answer for an above average quarterback thus far. The realistic hope is that that defense doesn’t get totally obliterated. That they force a field goal or two, maybe come away with a turnover somehow. If they can keep the Bucs in the low 30s, you’ll take that.
The onus, then, is on the offense to deliver. The Eagles likely won’t be able to run the ball efficiently on Tampa’s tough front. The Bucs are allowing the lowest opponent yards per rush attempt (2.9). Against the pass, though? That’s where their defense is more vulnerable. The Bucs are missing a number of key defenders such as Lavonte David, Antoine Winfield Jr., Carlton Davis III, and Sean Murphy-Bunting. Assuming the offensive line can hold up well enough against the Bucs’ pass rush, which is no easy task, there will be opportunities for Hurts to make plays with his arm.
And it’s imperative that he takes advantage. The margin for error figures to be slim in this matchup so he can’t continue to leave big plays on the field. He has to feed DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins early and often.
If you go by the quarterbacks he’s beaten thus far (Taysom Hill, Matt Ryan at the end of his rope, Sam Darnold), the case can be made that Hurts lacks a “signature win” to this point in his young career. There’s no better opportunity to go out and make a statement than by outgunning the greatest player in NFL history.
Time to see if Hurts can rise to the challenge. The Eagles need a big effort as home underdogs, according to DraftKings Sportbook.
For more, check out BGN’s weekly NFL game predictions.
Score prediction: 34 to 24, Eagles lose.
Bold prediction: DeVonta Smith scores three touchdowns.
Leave your own score predictions in the comments.
Will the Eagles beat the Buccaneers?