We get a huge Thursday Night matchup with the defending Super Bowl champs travelling to the city of brotherly love for an epic mid-week NFL contest. Tampa is on a roll coming off a 45-17 route against Miami, while Philly needed a miracle late fourth quarter comeback to edge out Carolina.
The action of this game has mostly been one-sided, yet despite receiving approximately 71 percent of the bets, the spread has dropped a half-point from 7 to 6.5. So the sharps are mostly on Philly’s side here. This spot reminds me of a similar situation last season when the Bucs travelled to Meadowlands to play New York as a seven-point road favorite. In that case, New York should have won that game outright. Philly is a more talented team than New York, and we get the extremely rowdy Philly home crowd under the lights. I like Philly in this game a ton and let’s go on a deep dive to see why me and sharps like Philly.
Tampa at Philadelphia
Spread: Tampa (-6.5)
Getting Pressure on Tom Brady
There are some unknowns on Tom Brady in this matchup. Brady is nursing an injured thumb via Sunday's game against Miami. Brady was limited in practice Monday and Tuesday before practicing in all team drills in the walk through on Wednesday.
The area that has to be a concern for Tampa backers and with a banged-up Brady is up the middle. While Tampa has one of the best interior pass-blocking units, Pro Bowl center Ryan Jansen will be a game-time decision due to a hip injury. Even if Jansen goes, he won’t be 100 percent. Philly employs one of the best 1-technique and 3-technique combos with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Hargrave has been a breakout star for the Philly defensive line recording six sacks in the first five games. It’s fair to mention Cox has struggled so far this season. Cox has a grade of 62.5 and his performance is holding this defensive line back. At any moment, the former All-Pro has a chance to return to form. A potential matchup with third-round rookie Robert Hainsey is the situation where he can do it. Philadelphia has some dudes on the defensive line.
If Philly is successful at applying pressure, it will further help an Eagles secondary that has been pretty good against the pass. However, they were shredded in the first half by Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes in recent weeks. Regardless, Brady should be tested by a Philly secondary ranked 10th overall in passing DVOA, and they rank 3rd overall against the pass allowing just 197 yards per game.
Theoretically, Darius Slay and Reggie Nelson matchup well with the wide receiver trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. The problem is, Slay rarely follows the best receiver. In this matchup he is going to have to take away either Brown or Evans for his defense to have success.
Tampa Injury woes will allow Hurts to Fly
Tampa will be out four defensive starters in Thursday’s contest. Cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis, Lavonte David, and Antonie Winfield will be out for Tampa. The defense has struggled at times. This is a matchup where Jalen Hurts needs to fly. Tampa is allowing a league-worst 314 yards per game. Their pass rush has essentially been non-existent. They rank 29th overall in adjusted sack rate and 30th in overall pressure rate. They have recorded just seven sacks in five games.
It will be interesting to see how Philly incorporates their passing game. Philly’s offense finally has the No. 1 threat who can win one on one on the outside with rookie Devonte Smith. Nick Sirianni's offense has stolen a lot of Lincoln Riley’s base concepts to help make Hurts comfortable. This is why Philly incorporates a lot of RPO’s. I think that should be successful against a Tampa defense that sells out to stop the run. Hurts will have a read on every play. If they can somehow establish some semblance of a running game to keep those linebackers honest- the Eagles have a path to success here. Sirianni will also have to open the playbook for Hurts to be competitive. Allowing Hurts to back plays and implement more downfield passing concepts. Which he has done late in games to engineer comebacks against Carolina.
Quietly, Hurts has generated the sixth most big-time throws on third down (11) and has an average depth of target equal to 8.1 yards. Message to Sirianni, don’t wait till you are down two scores in the 4th quarter to let Hurts play.
Do I like putting my hard earned money in the hands of Nick Sirianni? The answer is no, I do not. But Philly is in a fantastic spot here. Tampa is coming off a blowout home win and now they have to travel on a short week without four defensive starters and possibly their starting center?
Philadelphia isn’t great but they have the pieces to make this one competitive. There will be a high energy crowd to get Philadelphia going early. I believe in Jalen Hurts talent and he goes shot for shot with Brady here. Take Philly and the points.
The pick: Philadelphia +6.5
Make sure to follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive
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