Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
The Buccaneers pulled off the biggest upset of week 1, going into New Orleans and beating the reigning NFC South champs by 8 points as 10 point underdogs. How well 35-year-old backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played in the absence of the suspended Jameis Winston was a big surprise, but it wasn’t a surprise that the Buccaneers were able to play the Saints competitively. Despite a tough schedule and despite Winston being out or limited with injury for half of the season, the Buccaneers were still better than their 5-11 record in 2017, going just 2-7 in games decided by 7 points or fewer and finishing 12th in first down rate differential at +1.13%. Before the Winston suspension, I considered the Buccaneers a sleeper in the NFC.
Last week’s win in New Orleans moved this line significantly, with the Eagles going from being 6 point favorites to 3.5 point favorites, which makes the Buccaneers a much less attractive bet. Fitzpatrick is no guarantee to continue playing well, given his age and history of inconsistency, and the Buccaneers are also missing their top-2 cornerbacks with both Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves out with injury.
The Buccaneers also had a negative first down differential last week, despite the win (-2.54%). Their offense (50.00%) played well, but their defense was horrendous (52.54%). Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense should find it much easier to move the ball this week than in their opener against the Falcons, especially given the Buccaneers’ injuries at cornerback. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers’ offense faces a much tougher test this week against the Eagles’ defense than last week in New Orleans and Fitzpatrick could easily regress. I’m still taking the Buccaneers for pick ‘em purposes, but there’s no line value with them at 3.5, so they’re not worth a bet.
Philadelphia Eagles 23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +3.5