Week 6 of the 2021 NFL Season begins Thursday Night with the 4-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveling to the City of Brotherly Love to face the 2-3 Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams are coming off of wins last Sunday, but playing on a short week is always challenging, especially for the road team.
Tom Brady is dealing with a sore thumb but is healthy enough to start. The Bucs will go another week without Rob Gronkowski (ribs) on offense. In addition, Safety Antoine Winfield (concussion) and linebacker LaVonte David (ankle) will be missing this week on defense,
The Eagles could be without two key offensive starters against the Bucs. Tight end Dallas Goedert may not play due to placement on the Reserve/Covid-19 list earlier in the week. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson was listed as out for the game by Philadelphia on Wednesday due to personal matters.
Nick Sirianni, in his first season as head coach, has had the Eagles competitive in their first two home games. They haven’t been able to get a win however, falling to San Francisco by 6 and Kansas City by 12. The schedule makers haven’t been too kind to Philadelphia, as playing the Bucs in Week 6 means the Eagles’ first three games at Lincoln Financial Field will be against the teams that matched up in the last two Super Bowls.
The Bucs will have to keep an eye on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is very mobile and can be used in their run game. He can also be tough to bring down and is similar to last week’s opponent, Miami Dolphins signal caller Jacoby Brissett. Limiting Hurts on the ground and harassing him in the pocket gives the Bucs a great chance to win, as he isn’t the most accurate of passers.
The Eagles do have offensive weapons in receivers DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor, tight end Zach Ertz, and running back Miles Sanders. They can certainly move the ball. The issue is whether they can score enough touchdowns or not.
Offensively, Tampa Bay needs to keep Brady upright against a tough Eagles front four, led by defensive tackles Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox and defensive end Josh Sweat. All three had a sack last Sunday in a win over the Carolina Panthers.
Cornerback Darius Slay picked off two of quarterback Sam Darnold’s passes last week. He’s an All-Pro caliber cover man who can’t be allowed to wreck Tampa Bay’s passing game. Luckily, the Bucs have so many receiving options that Slay’s effectiveness should be neutralized enough to offset his ball hawking skill.
Finally, the Buccaneers must continue to use the ground attack. The Eagles rank 30th in the league versus the run. The recipe should be plenty of Leonard Fournette with a mix of Ronald Jones and Giovanni Bernard.
The Bucs in Week 6 need to execute like they did in Week 5. They may or may not score 45 points but if they control the ball, limit mistakes and frustrate the Eagles offense for 60 minutes, they should return to Tampa winners and with a few extra days off to prepare for a home game in Week 7.