Eagles-Buccaneers: What you need to know
Eagles (3-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)1 p.m. on FOX
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Having long been out of the playoff hunt, and after being swept in their season series with the Cowboys following last week’s 38-33 defeat, what’s left for the Eagles to play for?
Perhaps avoiding their first 10-loss season since 2005 and their first nine-game single-season losing streak since 1968, when they dropped their first 11 games en route to a 2-12 record.
This week, the Birds will face the Buccaneers, who have lost in consecutive weeks to Atlanta and Denver but remain strongly in contention for a postseason spot.InjuriesEaglesOut:
QB Michael Vick (concussion), RB LeSean McCoy (concussion), DT Mike Patterson (illness), T/G Nate Menkin (throat), FS Kurt Coleman (chest)
RB Chris Polk (toe)
S Nate Allen (shoulder), DT Fletcher Cox (tailbone), FB Stanley Havili (ankle), LB Mychal Kendricks (shoulder), G/C Dallas Reynolds (ankle), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (knee)BuccaneersOut:
CB LeQuan Lewis (knee)
DT Roy Miller (head)
WR Vincent Jackson (calf), RB Danny Ware (illness)OffenseEaglesTotal:
363 yards per game (12th, NFL)
229 ypg (17th)
134 ypg (9th)
The Birds’ offense may have finally woken up considering last week’s season-high 33-point output and 423 total yards against Dallas. More importantly, they capitalized in the red zone, coming away with six points in each of their three tries from inside the 20-yard line.
In the absence of Vick and McCoy, Nick Foles and Bryce Brown have played well, especially in the last two weeks.
After a rocky first two games, Foles has turned it around in his last two, throwing for 370 yards, a touchdown and no picks while completing 69 percent of his passes. Brown leads the league in rushing over the past two weeks, piling up 347 yards at a rate of 8.1 yards per carry while scoring four TDs. But he’s been careless with the rock, fumbling three times (all were lost).
It’s the problem that has persisted for the Birds all season. They’ve turned the ball over 28 times (12 picks, 16 fumbles), better only than Kansas City (32).BuccaneersTotal:
360 ypg (14th)
243 ypg (12th)
118 ypg (11th)
Fourth-year quarterback Josh Freeman, rookie running back Doug Martin and veteran receiver Vincent Jackson lead a Tampa Bay offense which is fourth in the league in scoring, putting up an average of 27.8 points per game.
Freeman is enjoying a strong year under center, having thrown for 23 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. Seven of those scores have gone to the first-year Buccaneer Jackson, whose 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame has made him a prime red zone target for Freeman, with four scores coming inside the 20.
Then there’s Martin, the 23-year-old first-year back out of Boise State. The league’s third-leading rusher has already racked up 1,106 yards and nine TDs on an average of 4.7 yards per carry. His 251-yard performance in Week 9 against Oakland set a franchise record and still stands as most by a running back this season. He’s also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, with 32 receptions for 374 yards.DefenseEaglesTotal:
352 ypg (17th)
234 ypg (16th)
118 ypg (18th)
The Eagles have gone four straight games without forcing a turnover and six without recording an interception, which has led to the second-worst turnover differential in the league at minus-18.
Since sacking Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator and replacing him with Todd Bowles prior to Week 8, the Birds’ passing defense has been a haven for opposing quarterbacks. Over a span of six weeks, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Tony Romo (twice) have combined for 16 TDs and an average of 253 yards per game with a 76-percent completion rate.
Opponents have also piled on the points, scoring 32.5 points per game in the last six contests. The Eagles' 195 points allowed over that span are more than the 49ers (171) have given up all season, and only three less than the Bears (198) have.Buccaneers
392 ypg (30th)
309 ypg (32nd)
82 ypg (1st)
If there was ever an opposing defense that would have Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg licking their chops, it’s the Bucs, who boast the NFL’s best rushing defense but the worst against the pass.
Quarterbacks have completed 67 percent of their pass attempts against Tampa’s D while throwing for 21 TDs and averaging 319 yards per contest. But the Bucs have been able to somewhat make up for that deficiency by picking off 17 passes, fourth-most in the league behind the Bears (20), Giants (18) and Cardinals (18).
Against the run, the Bucs are deadly, allowing just 82 yards per game on the ground. They’re also the best in terms of average gain per attempt, as opponents have picked up just 3.4 yards per carry. The next-best team in that category is San Francisco (3.6).Series history
16th (Eagles lead series, 8-7)Last meeting:
Eagles 33, Buccaneers 14 — Oct. 11, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field
Following a 13-yard scramble on the Eagles’ first offensive play of the day, Donovan McNabb hit Jeremy Maclin on a 51-yard touchdown pass on the next one and thrived in his first game back from a broken rib, leading the Eagles to an easy victory against the winless Buccaneers.
McNabb threw for 264 yards, three TDs and no picks while completing 76 percent of his passes on the afternoon. He found Leonard Weaver for a 20-yard score and Maclin again with under two minutes before the half on a 40-yarder. Brian Westbrook found the end zone on a 7-yard score to put the Eagles up, 28-7, midway through the third quarter.
Under center for the Bucs, Josh Johnson attempted 50 passes, completing 26 for 240 yards and two scores. He also threw three interceptions. Kellen Winslow Jr. led the way with nine catches for 102 yards and two TDs.Believe it or not…
The Eagles remain the only team in the league yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season. It’ll be a challenge to keep the streak going against Martin, who has achieved the feat three times thus far.
And speaking of unbelievable things, the Eagles are still mathematically in the race for the playoffs. Reuben Frank lists the 13 things that need to happen in order for the Birds to play football in January (see story)
Eagles wide receivers coach and senior offensive assistant David Culley coached the Buccaneers’ wide receivers in his first NFL job from 1994-95. He has coached the Eagles receiving corps since 1999.
Jimmy Raye, in his first season as senior offensive assistant for Tampa Bay, played one year in the NFL as a defensive back with the Eagles in 1969. He appeared in two games.
Buccaneers defensive end and third-year pro Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was the Eagles’ third-round selection in 2010 and appeared in six games for the Birds as a rookie, recording two tackles. This season, the Hawaii native has 33 tackles and two sacks in 12 contests.Recommended reading
In case you missed some of this week's stories ...Our predictionsJohnson ready to be big-time returner for EaglesEagles frustrated by inability to create turnoversDidinger's Eagles-Bucs scouting reportCoaching vet Brasher back to clean up D-lineHow will Foles perform as permanent starter?Eagles' O-line finally showing some promiseD-line moving on from Washburn, wide nine