Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preview and Prediction
From here on out for the Philadelphia Eagles, it's about regaining some dignity and setting the tone for 2013. Oh, and maybe playing spoiler. They can accomplish all three of those feats with an impressive victory over the talented Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Here's our final preview of the game, along with a prediction.
What Philly must do to win, offensive edition: Establish the run against the league's best run defense. It won't be easy, but that's why this team has lost eight straight games. Nick Foles can't beat this D on his own.
What Philly must do to win, defensive edition: Slow down Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson. This is a defense that has allowed the last six opposing quarterbacks to combine for a passer rating of 142.4.
How Philly can lose: By making the same old mistakes on offense and failing to stop anyone defensively, although there's little indication things will be much different against the desperate Bucs.
Five most important non-quarterbacks: Bryce Brown, Dennis Kelly, Brandon Graham, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Brown will obviously be responsible for establishing that balance, while Kelly will be the key protector on Foles' blind side. Graham and Trent Cole have to get pressure on Freeman to help out the ailing secondary, while Asomugha and DRC will try to prevent home runs against a team that has hit a lot of them this season.
Injury analysis, Eagles edition: Obviously, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson remain out, and the offensive line will be in shambles for the remainder of the year. The Bucs defense could have a field day under those circumstances. The defense is quite healthy, which is scary considering how poorly it's played.
Who will win Sunday?
Injury analysis, Bucs edition: Jackson had a calf injury, but he's practicing fully. And the line is shorthanded for good with Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks out, but the unit still hasn't been giving up very many sacks.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction: Tampa Bay needs this one badly, so I think Greg Schiano's team takes care of business. But it won't be easy. The Eagles appear to be making at least a little late-season progress.
Buccaneers 27, Eagles 20
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