What do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles have in common heading into their preseason opener on Thursday night? It’s the NFL head coaching debut of Tampa’s Dirk Koetter and Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson. The Eagles are slight favorites on NFL lines for this game.
Analyzing the Bucs at Eagles Preseason Week 1 Expert Pick & TV Info
Morning Headlines: Preparing for Philadelphia
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) August 10, 2016
Philadelphia vs Tampa Bay Historic Betting Trends
This will mark just the second time the Buccaneers and Eagles have played each other in the preseason, and the first time Tampa Bay has gone to Philly for an August game. The only other meeting was 34 years ago, when the Bucs beat the Eagles, 35-7, at Tampa Stadium to open the 1982 preseason.
These teams played in Philadelphia in Week 11 last season and the Bucs played their best game of the year in a 45-17 rout. Jameis Winston tied an NFL rookie record with five touchdown passes, and Doug Martin ran for 235 yards. Winston connected with five receivers on scoring plays in his record-setting afternoon. The other rookie quarterbacks to accomplish the feat were the Lions’ Matthew Stafford (2009) and the Bears’ Ray Buivid (1937). Winston also tied Steve DeBerg, Brad Johnson and Josh Freeman for the Bucs’ record for touchdown passes in a game. Martin finished 2 yards short of tying Barry Sanders’ record for most without a TD. Sanders had 237 for the Lions against Tampa Bay in 1994.
Why Bet on Tampa Bay?
Because the Eagles are holding a ton of guys out. Pederson has ruled out the following due to injury, some undisclosed: WR Jordan Matthews (knee), LT Jason Peters (quad), S Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring), LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), RB Wendell Smallwood (quad), DT Mike Martin (knee), LB Marcus Smith (concussion), CB JaCorey Shepherd (hamstring), WR Hunter Sharp, WR Marcus Johnson. With Matthews out, Pederson said Nelson Agholor and Chris Givens will start at receiver. He also said Rueben Randle and Josh Huff will mix in at receiver.
With the Eagles missing so many of their starters, it will give them a chance to look at their backups, including tackle Matt Tobin, who will start in the place of Peters. Here is Philly’s projected starting lineup.
Offense — Sam Bradford (QB), Ryan Mathews (RB), Chris Givens (WR), Nelson Agholor (WR), Josh Huff (WR), Brent Celek (TE), Matt Tobin (LT), Allen Barbre (LG), Jason Kelce (C), Brandon Brooks (RG), Lane Johnson (RT).
Defense — Vinny Curry (DE), Fletcher Cox (DE), Bennie Logan (DE), Connor Barwin (DE), Najee Goode (LB), Jordan Hicks (LB), Nigel Bradham (LB), Leodis McKelvin (CB), Chris Maragos (S), Rodney McLeod (S), Ron Brooks (CB)
Why Bet on Philadelphia?
The Bucs also will be missing some guys. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson and running back Charles Sims were held out of practice on Tuesday, and both may miss Thursday’s preseason opener. Sims, who finished last season with 1,090 combined yards catching and receiving, appeared to tweak his ankle during Monday’s indoor practice at Tropicana Field. Jackson, 33, missed six games last year due to a sprained MCL that ultimately landed him on injured reserve. He had gone four straight seasons prior without missing a single game. He’s fine now but just a bit beat up and a veteran so he doesn’t need much preseason time.
Wide receiver Louis Murphy and guard J.R. Sweezy will not play in Philadelphia as both remain on the active/PUP list. Neither has taken part in a training camp practice yet.
“Everybody that’s healthy is going to play,” said Koetter on Tuesday after his team’s final practice before the opener. Koetter said on Monday that he follows a traditional approach to preseason playing time, and in most cases that means minor cameos for the front-line players in the first game.
My Expert Pick
One guy we will see here is Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. Go Philly on NFL odds and under.