Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay
Power rankings: Philadelphia 14, Tampa Bay 5
When Philadelphia has the ball:
The Eagles on offense are 11th in DVOA and 12th in EPA/play. Jalen Hurts finished the 2021 season ranked 16th in PFF passing grades (73.4), completed 61.3% of his passes, and gained 7.3 yards per attempt. Hurts is a run first quarterback -- he gained 784 yards on the ground, most among all QBs, and had 10 touchdowns rushing, which was the 6th most for any position. When passing, he prefers the deep ball -- his average depth of target (aDOT) was 9.3, 5th highest in the league. Hurts held onto the ball for 3.2 seconds on average per play, which was the slowest in the league -- though this is logical for a QB who prefers to chuck it deep and run. He plays behind a stellar offensive line, they ranked 3rd in ESPN's pass block win rate metric and 2nd in run block win rate. LT Jordan Mailata and RT Lane Johnson may be the best tackle tandem in football, while C Jason Kelce is consistently one of the better at the position. Mailata is a truly fascinating story -- he played rugby his entire life before NFL scouts asked him to try out for football, a sport he had never played. The Eagles ended up drafting him in the 7th round of the 2018 draft, where he rode the bench before becoming a starter last year. This year he's PFF's 3rd highest graded tackle, having given up just 20 pressures on 461 pass blocking snaps. The Eagles top receivers by projected targets: Rookie WR Devonta Smith, TE Dallas Goedert, Jalen Reagor, and Greg Ward. Smith and Goedert both had productive seasons, and represent a decent 1-2 punch at receiver. Hurst will likely end up leading the team in carries, with Miles Sanders grabbing the bulk of the RB carries. The Eagles run more RPO's than any team in football, are 7th in play action rate (31.8% of dropbacks), and 3rd in screens (13.9%). They are a run first team, ranking 22nd in situation neutral early-down pass rate. They're 14th in DVOA throwing the ball and 3rd running it. The Buccaneers on defense are 9th in DVOA and 5th in EPA/play. They blitz on 40.8% of snaps, which was the most in the league, and as a result are generating pressure on 28.6% of snaps, which was 2nd most. That's not to say the line is necessarily dominant, they rank 10th in pass rush win rate and 19th in run stop win rate. Shaq Barrett is by far their best pass rusher, he racked up 75 pressures and 11 sacks this season. Barrett missed last week due to a knee injury -- he will play (he practiced in full on Friday), but profootballdoc isn't confident he'll be 100% recovered. Devin White, who plays inside linebacker, was 2nd on the team in pressures with 43, followed by DT Vita Vea with 42. Barrett and Vea (who also excels against the run) are the two standouts on the line -- even though they feature big names like Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh, both are far past their prime and have PFF grades in the 40s. LB Lavonte David is consistently one of the better linebackers in all of football, but he's battling a foot injury. He was recently activated from IR, but similar to Barrett, profootballdoc has doubts on how effective he can be even if he does play. The secondary features an incredibly strong safety tandem in Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr, who finished 2nd among all safeties in PFF grades. Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean represent a solid 1-2 punch at corner, but it's worth noting that Davis popped up on the injury report Friday with a back injury and is officially questionable. The defense ranks 10th in DVOA against the pass and 12th against the run. It's easy to see that the Bucs have several effective players on defense, but injuries could come back to bite them -- as well as their aging defensive line going up against an Eagles rushing attack. Hurts can naturally expect the blitz often, but that isn't anything he isn't used to -- he's blitzed on 30% of dropbacks this season, 9th highest in the league, and has an overall offensive grade from PFF that ranks 18th (71.4) on such plays.
When the Bucs have the ball:
The Bucs at full strength have the best offense in the league, finishing the season 1st in DVOA and EPA/play. Tom Brady finished 2nd in PFF passing grades (90.8), completed 67.5% of his passes, and gained 7.4 yards per attempt. Brady threw 12 INTs this season, which may seem like a lot -- but his turnover worthy play ratio from PFF was at 1.9%, 2nd lowest in the league. At 44 years old, Tom Brady had the most pass attempts (719), completions (485), yards (5,316), and TDs (43). He also plays behind one of the better offensive lines in football and gets rid of the ball in 2.34 seconds on average, which is 2nd fastest in the league. As a result, Brady is under pressure on just 19.8% of dropbacks, which is lowest in the league. His top receivers by projected targets: Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Johnson, Breshard Perriman, Leonard Fournette, and Scotty Miller. They're without Chris Godwin (ACL), Antonio Brown (stripped naked and quit) and Cyril Grayson (hamstring), making the receiving core a significant step down from its normal dominance. Evans has been nursing a hamstring injury, but he did play last week and got in two full practices Thursday and Friday -- a sign that he should be a full go. Fournette will return from a hamstring injury as well, but definitely will not be 100%. We'll see how much of the running back workload he can handle, as Ronald Jones (ankle) is out. By DVOA, the Bucs have the best passing offense and the 4th best rushing offense, but again, health is an issue that will scale back these lofty metrics. They're a pass first team, ranking 3rd in situation neutral early-down pass rate. The Eagles on defense are 25th in DVOA and 17th in EPA/play. They have a strong pass rush, ranking 4th in ESPN's pass rush win rate metric. They blitz only 16.4% of the time, 2nd least in the league, but still generate pressure 24% of the time, which ranks 22nd. The pass rush is led by DT Javon Hargrave (61 pressures), DE Josh Sweat (46), DT Fletcher Cox (41), and DE Derek Barnett (33). Sweat is officially questionable with an illness -- it isn't labeled as COVID-19, but he didn't practice all week. The line is a much less favorable 17th in run stop win rate. Rounding out the front 7 is linebacker TJ Edwards, who is solid in the run game, in coverage, and rushing the passer. Darrius Slay is one of the top corners in all of football, and Avonte Maddox has played well in the slot. That said, both safeties have struggled, as has outside corner Steve Nelson. The weaknesses are enough to offset the strengths, as the Eagles rank 25th in DVOA against the pass and 19th against the run. It's a good matchup for Brady and the Bucs, but we cannot mistake this Bucs offense for the version that's fully healthy.