Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1, 2-3 ATS) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-3, 2-3), 8:20 p.m., TNF
Brolley’s Buccaneers Stats and Trends
Tampa Bay was 1-4 ATS and 2-3 outright in five games on short rest last season.
The Bucs are 1-4 ATS in their last five games as a road favorite.
Tampa Bay is 4-1 toward overs.
Tom Brady has accomplished just about everything in his 22-year career, but he checked off another first last week by throwing for 400+ yards with 5+ TDs for the first time in his career. Brady has thrown for 4+ TDs in three games (14 total) with just one total touchdown pass in his other two games. He’s dealing with some right thumb discomfort but he’s fully expected to play. The Eagles limited the Panthers to 3.8 yards per play last week and they sacked Sam Darnold three times and they intercepted him three times on their way to limiting the Panthers to one touchdown.
Mike Evans has 8+ targets, 5+ catches, and 75+ yards with four overall touchdowns in his last four games since running into Trevon Diggs in the season opener. The Eagles are giving up a touchdown per game to the position with Tyreek Hill doing most of that damage with three scores in Week 4.
Chris Godwin has 55+ receiving yards in every game and he got back to seeing double-digit targets last week after seeing just 17 combined targets in Weeks 2-4. The Eagles are giving up a league-low 9.6 catches per game to WRs.
Antonio Brown has two performances with 120+ yards and 23+ FP after torching the Dolphins for 7/124/2 receiving last week. He’s posted consecutive games with seven catches since coming back from the COVID list, but he’s still a distant third in routes in that span with 61 compared to 85 for Evans and 78 for Godwin. The Eagles are giving up the fourth-fewest FPG (28.3) to WRs this season.
Rob Gronkowski is nearing a return from his rib injury but the short week could work against him this week. He managed 4/55 receiving on seven targets the last time he played in Week 3, which snapped his run of two touchdowns in each of the first two games. If he’s unable to play, Cameron Brate has been most involved with 3/41 receiving on seven targets and 51 routes in Weeks 4-5. The Eagles have given up four touchdowns to TEs over the last three weeks.
Leonard Fournette managed 12/67/1 rushing and 4/43 receiving on five targets last week, which gives him 100+ scrimmage yards and a snap share above 60% in consecutive games. Giovani Bernard returned to action to steal a touchdown reception while playing 23% of the snaps, but Fournette ran 28 routes to Gio’s 8 in a comfortable win. The Eagles have given up 60+ rushing yards and 13+ FP to four different backs in the last three weeks.
Brolley’s Eagles Stats and Trends
The Eagles snapped a three-game outright and ATS losing streak last week.
Jalen Hurts is the only quarterback with 21+ FP in every game and he needed two rushing touchdowns to keep the run alive in Week 5. The Eagles enter as seven-point home underdogs and Hurts posted 325+ yards and two TDs in negative gamescripts against the Cowboys and Chiefs in Weeks 3-4. The Buccaneers have allowed 275+ passing yards and multiple TD passes to every quarterback they’ve faced.
DeVonta Smith is averaging a healthy 7.8 targets per game and he has 6+ catches and 70+ yards in three of his first five contests. The Buccaneers are giving up a league-high 17.2 catches per game to WRs and the second-most FPG (46.7) to WRs.
Zach Ertz was heating up with 27.3 FP in Weeks 3-4 before finishing with just a seven-yard catch against the Panthers in Week 5 despite seeing six targets (19% share). Dallas Goedert is on the COVID list and is unlikely to play and Lavonte David (high-ankle) is out of the lineup. Ertz is in a good spot against a Buccaneers defense that’s giving up the sixth-most FPG (17.2) to TEs.
Miles Sanders played a season-high 75% of the snaps in a positive gamescript last week, and he still managed just 11/45 rushing and 5/6 receiving against the Panthers. The Buccaneers are giving up a league-low 39.6 rushing yards per game and they’re facing a league-low 13.2 carries per game. The Eagles enter as seven-point home underdogs this week, and Kenneth Gainwell posted a combined 9/90 receiving in extremely negative scripts in Weeks 3-4. Four different RBs have caught 5+ passes against the Buccaneers this season, including Myles Gaskin (10/74/2 receiving) last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27 (10th)
Plays per game: 70.8 (6th)
Pass: 70.7% (1st) | Run: 29.3% (32nd)
Pace: 24.8 (2nd)
Plays per game: 64.0 (24th)
Pass: 64.6% (9th) | Run: 35.4% (24th)
We’ve got a really fun game on the docket on TNF. Because the Bucs’ are dominating on offense and their pass defense is struggling mightily, four of their 5 games have gone off and combined for 58 or more points. Tampa’s opponents are throwing the ball against them at an incredible 18% above expectation because their front-seven is stymying running backs to just 39.6 yards per game. This all sets up for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles to continue to lean heavily on the pass in this matchup. Philadelphia is 71.2% pass-heavy when trailing (seventh-highest rate) and if they are behind this entire game as the spread suggests, there should be a ton of play volume on both sides of the ball. Because both offenses play fast, throw a ton, and the Buccaneers secondary continues to see a ton of volume – this game has all of the makings of a shootout.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The Eagles are passing at the third-highest rate this season, and Tampa Bay is the top run defense in the NFL — it’s not even close. Philly will need to feed their receivers with volume to compete. DeVonta Smith leads the team with a 23% target share. The addition of Richard Sherman has been a godsend to a previously reeling secondary, but Tampa’s typical coverage shells are shells against which Smith has had plenty of success.
It’s very likely that Dallas Goedert will miss Week 6 with the positive test that landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Eagles have devoted at least a 24% target share to their TEs in three-of-five games, 31% in another. Now that Arizona plucked Richard Rodgers from their practice squad to take Maxx Williams’ spot on the roster, Jack Stoll is likely the only reinforcement for Philadelphia behind Zach Ertz. It’s highly likely that Ertz will absorb nearly all of the TE targets on Thursday night.
The Buccaneers have given up 17.2 FPG to TEs (sixth-most), 17.9 over the last four weeks (seventh), and 19.9 over the last two (eighth). Plainly stated, they’ve been consistently lenient to the position. Further improving the spot for Ertz, Lavonte David is doubtful for Week 6.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Buccaneers are back and rolling offensively after an uncharacteristically bad game in New England — in bad weather and emotional conditions. Tom Brady threw for over 400 yards and 5 TD in Week 5 over the hapless Dolphins, and while the Eagles tormented the overmatched Sam Darnold last week, Philly also has struggled in recent weeks with top offenses (Dallas, Kansas City). You might be aware that Tampa is a lot closer to a top offense than one quarterbacked by Darnold.
It must be pointed out, of course, that Brady has a right thumb injury, and while he played through it in the second half against Miami with no consequences, it’s possible that the short week does affect Brady’s recovery. Still, there is nothing that indicates this is worrisome.
Here’s a look at Tom Brady’s taped hand/thumb...Mike Evans told me he wasn’t even aware Brady injured it. Byron Leftwich laughed when I asked, telling me he found out very late in the game. pic.twitter.com/ye5l8pu7ve— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) October 12, 2021
Philadelphia’ defensive line had its best performance of the 2021 season, and per Next Gen Stats, one of the best performances in recent years. Pressuring Brady — if he’s not 100% — will be critical to the Eagles’ success.
The Eagles pressured Sam Darnold on 19 of his 40 dropbacks (47.5%), allowing just 5 completions on 16 attempts under pressure (2 INT).
Four different Eagles pass rushers generated 6+ pressures, the second team to do so over the last four seasons.#PHIvsCAR
Another wrinkle the Eagles have thrown in the last couple weeks, and especially so against Carolina, was shadowing receivers with both CBs Darius Slay and Steven Nelson. Slay had 2 INTs and was PFF’s top coverage corner in Week 5 while shadowing DJ Moore last week, while Nelson had the Eagles’ game-sealing INT while shadowing Robby Anderson. Based on this, my expectation is Slay will face off with Mike Evans, while Nelson will probably occupy most of his time on Antonio Brown. It’s not like you’re benching either guy, but the best matchup is in the slot for Chris Godwin, where he (6’1”) towers over primary slot CB Avonte Maddox (5’9”).
The other Buc I really like, obviously, is Leonard Fournette. In a blowout win over the Dolphins in Week 5, Fournette managed 12/67/1 rushing and 4/43 receiving on 5 targets, making it his second consecutive game with over 100 yards from scrimmage, coinciding with two of his three snap shares above 60% of the season (82% in Week 4, 62% in Week 5). While receiving specialist Giovani Bernard returned to play 23% of the snaps in Week 5, and had a receiving TD, Fournette ran 28 routes to Gio’s 8, and with Ronald Jones a distant third in this backfield in snap share, Fournette has taken over a truly fantasy-relevant role. Fournette is the overall RB15 on the season… and in Week 6 gets an Eagle defense that has given up an individual 100-yard rusher in three straight games (Ezekiel Elliott, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chuba Hubbard), all since losing star DE Brandon Graham.
For Philadelphia, coach Nick Sirianni gets his dream matchup. That’s because Tampa Bay has given up 45.8 rushing yards per game… nearly 30 yards fewer per game than the second-fewest in the NFL, Cleveland (75.6). Three weeks ago against Dallas, the Eagles handed the ball to a back just 3 times, the fewest in NFL history. And in the ensuing weeks, they’ve handed the ball off to RBs 10 times (Week 4) and 13 times (Week 5), respectively. So that’s 26 RB carries in three weeks total — Derrick Henry has topped that in each of his last four games individually. I, uh, don’t think this is the week Sirianni begins to whip out the Wing T. Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell are both FLEX plays because of their receiving chops, but not much more than that — Gainwell could benefit from a potential high-scoring game.
Jalen Hurts continues to get it done for fantasy with both his arm and legs, and he’s shown this year that even when he doesn’t play well — as was the case for three quarters of the Carolina game last week — he can still turn it on. He’s a no-doubt QB1 against a Buccaneer defense depleted in the secondary, despite his offensive line still dealing with the absence of RT Lane Johnson (personal). DeVonta Smith is an advisable WR2/3 with at least 6 targets in every game and 2 TD receptions lost to penalties the last two weeks. If you’re looking for a Thursday Night Special option, Quez Watkins ran more routes and played more snaps than Jalen Reagor in Week 5, and Watkins has been getting open deep on the regular. The Bucs have given up 5 TD on throws of 10 air yards or more, which is tied for 4th-most in the NFL (SIS).
The Bucs will be down LB Lavonte David (ankle) this week, and the Eagles could be down TE Dallas Goedert (COVID). That could open the door for Zach Ertz to be a critical passing-game option for Hurts. Ertz could still be on the tradeblock, and a showcase game makes sense. (Narrative Street will have to wait a week or two, though — Ertz is 15 receptions shy of Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael in becoming the Eagles’ all-time leader in the category.)