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Buccaneers at Eagles: Bold Predictions

Who goes bold on Thursday Night Football?

It's a short week, but that won't stop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from taking on the Philadelphia Eagles, therefore, it's not going to stop another round of bold predictions from coming in, either.

So without further ado, let's get to business.

Bold predictions record through Week 5: 7-18

5. Jalen Hurts throws for 350+ yards and scores 3+ total touchdowns

Hurts has put up some big numbers during his short career, even if some of those numbers have come in garbage time. It's all on the stat sheet when it's all said done, regardless of how it got there.

As we all know, Tampa Bay's defense is not the unit that we saw in the playoffs. The pass rush has picked it up over the last couple of weeks, but this week will be a bit different in terms of opponent. Hurts is much more mobile than Mac Jones and a hampered Jacoby Brissett and he is much more apt at making big plays.

The Eagles also have some pretty decent weapons on offense. Hurts' mobility on top of that fact and a struggling Bucs defense means he has a big night on Thursday Night Football.

4. Leonard Fournette totals over 150 yards from scrimmage and at least one touchdown

Fournette has been on fire the last two games. He has 249 total yards and one touchdown on 39 touches, which comes out to 6.4 yards per touch. That final number is fourth-best among running backs with at least 30 touches during this span.

The Eagles run defense is not good. At all. And while the Eagles defense is halfway decent with running backs in the passing game, Fournette is going to get plenty of chances. Especially when you consider he averages nearly five targets per game.

The Bucs rushing attack is heating up, too. This trifecta of bad run defense, involvement in the passing game, and a hot rushing attack all adds up to more yardage and more touchdowns for Fournette.

3. O.J. Howard has his best game since 2019

Howard hasn't really been involved with the Bucs offense this year. He wasn't even on the field very much before Rob Gronkowski's injury. Case in point: Howard has been targeted just six times all year long. 

But three of those targets came last week. And Howard has out-snapped Cameron Brate, the Bucs' current No. 2 tight end, in the two full games that Gronk has missed. 

O.J. Howard will look like his old self on Thursday night. Photo credit: John A. Babiak/@Photog_JohnB

O.J. Howard will look like his old self on Thursday night. Photo credit: John A. Babiak/@Photog_JohnB

The Eagles' linebackers have issues in coverage and can be taken advantage of, which is what Tom Brady will do this week with Howard. A lot of play-action and shots over the middle is a good recipe to beat this Eagles defense and Howard can thrive in this type of environment when he's on his game.

He hasn't had five catches and 50+ yards since December 2019. That changes this weekend. Oh, and throw a touchdown in there, too.

2. Kenneth Gainwell, Miles Sanders, and Zach Ertz notch 150+ combined receiving yards and at least two touchdowns

If there's yards to be had, it's with the running backs and tight ends when you're playing the Bucs defense.

Per Sports Info Solutions, the Bucs have given up the most completions, the third-highest completion rate, the third-most yards, and the third-most touchdowns to running backs this year. It's not a very efficient method of attack, considering the Bucs give up the eighth-lowest EPA/play in this regard, but we are talking raw stats, here. Not efficiency.

The Bucs are in the bottom-10 when it comes to defending tight ends, as well. Opposing tight ends average seven receptions for a little over 61 yards when playing the Bucs and they have three receiving touchdowns on the year. 

The Eagles will find plenty of ways to take advantage of these matchups and it's going to be hard for the Bucs to counter without Lavonte David in the mix. Therefore, these three guys will make plays all night long.

1. Jason Pierre-Paul and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka combine for 3.0+ sacks

JPP is hurt and the Bucs' rookie let me down last week, but I'm going to the well again this week.

Both play on the defensive right the majority of the time, which means they'll be going up against Andre Dillard of the Eagles this week. Dillard isn't the best in pass protection, even if he is a former first-round pick.

Dillard will have trouble with these two all night long and will give up not one, not two, but at least three sacks to the Bucs' pass rushing duo.

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