Two undefeated teams clash in the balmy September night of Florida, a stark contrast from their last playoff face-off two seasons ago. Back then, rookie Head Coach Nick Sirianni led the Eagles to a late-year surge that secured a spot in the Wild Card Playoff round. Tampa Bay emerged victorious that day, and the Eagles gleaned invaluable lessons from the defeat, using them to fortify the roster and pave the way for a Super Bowl run in 2022. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay transitioned from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield as quarterback, riding Mayfield’s efficiency, a potent passing game, and a formidable defense to consecutive wins.
Now, as they gear up for Monday night, these teams promise an enthralling matchup. Here are key storylines to watch as the Eagles aim to secure a 3-0 record against Tampa Bay:
- The Turnover Ratio Looms Large: Mayfield’s exceptional ball security has been pivotal in their two victories. With zero giveaways, he showcased his best performance in the Week 1 win against Minnesota, throwing two touchdown passes. Tampa Bay’s solid protection and efficient play have bolstered Mayfield’s performance.
- Eagles Offense vs. A Tough Defensive Scheme: Todd Bowles’ formidable defense poses a significant challenge with its physical front, agile linebackers, and versatile secondary. The Eagles will need to contend with Tampa Bay’s strategy of lining up heavily to stop the run, presenting a compelling matchup against the league’s second-best rushing defense.
- Vita Vea in the Middle of the Scheme: Vita Vea, a 346-pound force, will line up against center Jason Kelce, posing a challenge for both guards. Neutralizing Vea’s impact and controlling the line of scrimmage will be a crucial objective for the Eagles.
- Handling Mike Evans: Evans, a complete wide receiver, has proven challenging to contain with his exceptional performance in the first two games. Managing Evans will be critical for the Eagles, especially with a new-look secondary.
- Starting Fast and Finishing Strong: The Eagles have consistently built significant leads but have faced late rallies in their previous games. Maintaining a strong start and ensuring a powerful finish will be vital, especially with the presence of numerous Eagles fans in the stands, giving the game a “home away from home” atmosphere.
- Battling the Heat in Tampa: Playing in the Florida heat early in the season is always a challenge. Hydration and managing the heat will be key factors, with the Bucs accustomed to these conditions. The Eagles’ ability to adapt and perform in this environment will significantly impact the game’s outcome.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) September 26, 2023
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