The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be winless in 2013-14, but the Philadelphia Eagles cannot afford to take them lightly in their Week 6 game. Greg Schiano's team is underrated and has an excellent pass defense. The Bucs could create some problems for the Eagles without Michael Vick under center.
Tampa Bay has some excellent playmakers who are as talented as anyone else in this league. How effective the Eagles are at slowing down these players could impact their fortunes in this game.
Here are the individual matchups to keep an eye on.
Jason Kelce vs. Gerald McCoy
The Eagles have one of the better young centers in the NFL in Jason Kelce to shore up the middle of the offensive line. It will most likely be his responsibility to keep McCoy at bay.
This won't be just when McCoy is matched up directly against Kelce either. The Bucs like to move McCoy around the line to exploit matchups.
Even when Kelce is not directly responsible for guarding McCoy himself, he is the one who makes the protection calls. He must be sure to account for McCoy and allow Foles to feel comfortable in the pocket.
Also, the Eagles' ability to account for McCoy will also affect how they are able to run the football, which will be critical if DeSean Jackson is shut down by Darrelle Revis.
DeSean Jackson vs. Darrelle Revis
While Darrelle Revis has been used in a great deal of zone coverage this season, he will no doubt still be used a great deal on Philly's best receiver.
How that battle plays out could determine the Eagles' fortunes in this game.
If Jackson can effectively win one-on-one matchups with Revis, the Bucs may be forced to play a safety deep on that side of the field to help out. That would open things up for the rest of the Eagles offense and give Foles more options in the passing game.
If Revis is able to shut down Jackson, Foles will have to trust that Riley Cooper and Jason Avant can get open. That may be difficult, since the Bucs' secondary—which includes Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson and rookie standout Johnthan Banks—is as good as any in the league.
Considering that Cooper and Avant are not very explosive players, Jackson failing to get open would put more pressure on Foles to have an exceptional game and limit mistakes.
Cary Williams vs. Vincent Jackson
The Buccaneers have no shortage of talent at the wide receiver position. Both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are talented players who have had success in the NFL.
Williams can likely be handled by Bradley Fletcher, but Jackson may prove to be a matchup problem.
VJax is a big, physical target with above-average hands and impressive speed. Cary Williams has not been the most reliable tackler and has shown himself to be anything but a shutdown corner thus far. Any safety help would not be as effective due to the weakness of the Eagles' safety corps.
Williams will need to step up and play a good game on Sunday. He has the speed to keep up with Jackson, but he will need to play physically to keep him in check.
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