The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend as they begin their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The NFL playoffs get underway this weekend with six intriguing Wildcard Weekend matchups.
Can Tampa Bay repeat as champions?
Here are some key factors that may determine their fate.
As long as Tom Brady is behind center, the Tampa Bay Bucs have to like their chances. In his career, Brady has a stellar 34-11 postseason record, and of course, seven Super Bowl rings. He is the most decorated quarterback of all time.
At age 44, Brady showed no signs of slowing down this season. He led the league in completions (485), passing yards (5,316), and touchdown passes (43).
The Bucs lead the league in average passing yards per game (307.6) and are second in points per game (30.1). They are a prolific passing offense that ranks right among the best teams in the league.
Despite losing Chris Godwin to an ACL tear and the infamous departure of Antonio Brown, they still have plenty of offensive talent, including Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. As long as Brady is around, this is a dangerous offense capable of moving the ball on anyone.
Strong Front Seven
Another key to Tampa Bay’s success is their starting defensive front seven. This group includes defensive playmakers Vita Vea, Jason Pierre-Paul, Devin White, and Shaquil Barrett.
The same unit that harassed Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV has been instrumental to the Bucs success again this season.
The Bucs finished with the third-best run defense, allowing just 92.5 yards per game on the ground. They also finished the season with 47 sacks, which ranks 7th overall.
The Bucs front seven must impose themselves in the playoffs. They face a significant challenge in their first-round matchup against the Eagles, who lead the NFL in rushing yards per game. If they can stop the run and get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, they’ll give Brady and the Bucs’ offense more opportunities to put up points.
The passing game and the front seven make Tampa Bay a dangerous team in the playoffs, but there are more noticeable holes on this roster than last year’s team.
The Buccaneers have struggled to defend the pass, ranking just 21st and conceding an average of 238.9 passing yards per game. The Bucs ranked fifth in scoring defense (20.8 points per game), but they have not fared well against above .500 teams like the Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Rams.
Can the secondary hold up against top passers like Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers?
The running game has also been inconsistent, ranking 26th in rushing yards per game. This means there will be a lot of pressure on Brady to move the ball.
Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Repeat?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a very talented roster, and they can beat any team in the league. They remain legitimate Super Bowl LVI contenders despite some weaknesses on both sides of the ball.
It would be a mistake to count out Tom Brady, and at +750, there is decent value.
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