The Philadelphia Eagles continue their road trip with a matchup against the 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Due to Michael Vick's hamstring injury last week, the Eagles will be starting second-year quarterback Nick Foles.
The good thing is that Foles beat the Buccaneers last year, when he led a game-winning drive that culminated in a last-second touchdown pass. The Buccaneers have upgraded their roster since then, signing free-agent acquisitions in Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson. But Foles played well off the bench last week, and if he plays well enough in Week 6, he may win the permanent starting job.
The odds are that the Eagles win this game. They're favored by a point and up against a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon. He will be making just his second NFL start, and he didn't play particularly well in his debut.
My prediction is that the Eagles win this game by a solid margin. The drop-off from Vick to Foles isn't much at all, and the offense is difficult to stop when it's on its game. The following six bold predictions offer a glimpse at what we may see on Sunday.
Nick Foles is arguably the finest backup quarterback in the league, and a strong case could be made that he should be starting somewhere.
Over his last 217 passes, he has thrown for 1,522 yards (for 7.01 yards per attempt), eight touchdowns and just three interceptions. He was efficient a week ago against the New York Giants, leading the Philadelphia Eagles back from a second-half deficit.
He picked apart the Buccaneers a year ago, throwing for 381 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. This matchup will be much different, as the Buccaneers have a tougher secondary than the one that rated 32nd in yards allowed last season.
Foles releases the ball quickly enough that he should be able to operate the hurry-up offense with ease. He doesn't offer the ability to run like Michael Vick, but he's a reliable passer who limits his turnovers and moves the chains.
Prediction: 24-of-35, 298 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Doug Martin is a dynamic running back, and the best bet for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win this game is to give him 25-30 touches.
He is a three-down back who can run the ball and catch passes. Last year, he rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 49 passes for 472 yards out of the backfield. That's an average of close to 125 total yards per game.
In this contest, he faces a Philadelphia Eagles team that ranks 30th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. The Eagles allowed Jamaal Charles to gain 172 yards three weeks ago. Even Knowshon Moreno totaled close to 100. That should spell a field day for Martin, who will finish with more than 150 yards and a touchdown on 31 touches.
Jackson is fast and enjoying a tremendous season after two disappointing campaigns in a row. He is third in the league in receiving yards, and he has done this without the luxury of No. 2 wide receiver Jeremy Maclin opposite him.
Revis hasn't been playing nearly as much man-to-man defense this season, but he will face off against Jackson for the majority of the game. Look for Jackson to beat Revis deep at least once. And then look for Revis to get back at Jackson by jumping in front of him for an interception.
In the end, Jackson should catch around six passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.
After missing field goals in three consecutive weeks, Alex Henery delivered in big fashion a week ago. The third-year kicker made five field goals and three extra points, finishing with a personal single-game high 18 points.
Look for him to continue his fine play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He wasn't exactly playing for his job a week ago, but his status with the team wasn't golden, either. He has just one career field goal of more than 50 yards, and that came in his rookie season. It's time for him to add to that, and a 55-yard field goal right before halftime would be a nice way to do so.
No sacks in five games is disappointing, but Trent Cole has been playing much better than his numbers indicate. He's recorded a pair of quarterback hurries in every single game, along with two forced fumbles, 10 tackles and a safety.
He is due to break out, and he will beat left tackle Donald Penn for a trio of sacks in Week 6. Penn is a much better at run blocking than he is at pass protection, and Cole is a tough player to block. The two haven't faced off since early in 2009, when Cole beat Penn for a pair of sacks along with seven tackles.
One of Cole's sacks will force a fumble, and he will add four tackles in a 28-20 Eagles win.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a stout run defense, and they will be a tough matchup for LeSean McCoy.
Last year, the Buccaneers rated No. 1 in the league in rushing yards allowed, and they completely stifled Bryce Brown for 60 minutes (12 carries for just six yards). This year, the Buccaneers aren't first, but they're still ninth in yards allowed and first in rushing touchdowns allowed.
The transition of Vick to Foles at the quarterback position is likely a downgrade for McCoy. Vick's speed opened up so many opportunities for McCoy, as the defense had to concentrate on the possibility of Vick both passing and running the football. Center Jason Kelce struggled a week ago as a run blocker, perhaps because of his thumb injury from several weeks back. He gets a tough matchup in Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
The Buccaneers also feature a much-improved secondary, so they can stack the box more and dare Foles to beat them with his arm.
Prediction: 23 rushes, 75 yards, 1 TD; 4 catches, 18 yards; total: 27 touches, 93 yards, 1 TD