By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor
The Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) quest for another Lombardi trophy begins on Sunday in Central Florida against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) and G.O.A.T. Tom Brady. The Bucs come into the playoffs on a hot streak, winning seven-of-eight to close out their season on the way to their first NFC South Championship in over a decade.
Here’s a look at what makes the Bucs one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL Playoffs:
When the Bucs are on Offense
Tom Brady- Come on, it would be disingenuous to not start with Brady as the catalyst of the Bucs offense. Like a fine wine, the 44-year-old Brady continues to get better with age. “Tom Terrific” had his best statistical year in his career throwing for 5,316-yards, 43 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 102.1. It’s just remarkable.
Wide Receivers- Chris Godwin and Mike Evans provided the Bucs with a massive one-two punch through the air. The pair both went over 1000-yards receiving this season, Godwin with 1,103-yards and Evans with 1.035-yards. Evans hauled in 14-touchdowns this year, trailing only Los Angeles’s Cooper Kupp in the category. Godwin will not play in the postseason due to a torn ligament and Evans is just returning from injury. The Eagles luck out a bit here but don’t fool yourself, the wide receiver position is still the Bucs strongest offensive asset.
When the Bucs are on Defense
Defensive Line- Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has assembled one of the most complete defenses in the football and it begins with the defensive line. Led by recently extended Vita Vea, the Bucs have produced one of the top rushing defenses in the league only allowing 92.5 yards-per-game. The defensive line has been a disruptive force allowing the rest of the defense to excel.
Head coach Bruce Arians, the afformentioned Bowles, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich give Tampa one of the best coaching staffs in the league. Arians and Bowles bring years of experience and Leftwich provides a spark of youth that creates a unique environment in Tampa. It’s tough to “out coach” this coaching staff.
Later this week, Paul Bowman will take a look at the position-by-position breakdown for the Eagles-Buccaneers match up. Stay locked here for all of your Eagles playoff coverage!