It's another big Thursday Night Football game, this time between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles.
We've got a market report on the game from South Point director Chris Andrews and best bets from Adam Burke, Wes Reynolds and Matt Youmans as Week 6 kicks off.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7, 52.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Market report from Chris Andrews: Sharps are taking the Eagles, but my midweek ticket count was 5-1 in favor of Tampa Bay. A lot of action early in the week for a Thursday nightery, since money typically waits until game day. This game will have a very high handle by kickoff. I have a feeling I’m going to end up at 6.5. The market is trending downward even with all the public action on the favorite.
Tampa Bay is a popular choice in teasers. There aren’t a lot of great options Sunday, so teaser lovers are using Tampa Bay as much as possible. Reminds me of Tampa Bay/New England two weeks ago when the public was all over Tom Brady and the Bucs as road favorites in a prime-time game. Sportsbooks were positioned the other way rooting for the dog. It’s true that Philadelphia’s defense allowed a lot of points to Dallas and Kansas City, but Tom Brady is dealing with a thumb injury. My total opened 52. An accumulation of public bets on the Over has lifted it to 52.5. No sharp buyback yet.
Youmans: It’s difficult to find negative trends that relate to Brady, but he has not been great on the road in his brief time with the Buccaneers. In 10 regular-season road starts, Brady is 4-6 ATS, including 0-2 this season. All four of the Bucs’ road covers in 2020 came against bad teams (Broncos, Lions, Panthers, Raiders). I expect the Eagles, who were competitive in home losses to the Chiefs and 49ers, to be live dogs in this spot.
Philadelphia has the league’s No. 3 pass defense in terms of yards allowed, but that’s partly because its run defense is so soft. The Bucs’ plan will be to run more in this game, especially with Brady nursing a sore thumb. The Eagles’ plan will be to air it out. Tampa Bay has the league’s worst pass defense (314.4 YPG), and Philadelphia’s speed receivers -- DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor -- can take advantage by stretching out a thin secondary. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is playing well enough to hang with Brady in this matchup.
Pick: Eagles + 7
Reynolds: With Brady’s laundry list of career accomplishments, he had never played a game where he threw for over 400 yards and five touchdowns in the same outing until this past Sunday. On Sunday, the Bucs only led by seven going into the fourth quarter, but a 21-0 blitz led to a dominant 45-17 victory in what looked on the surface to be a flat spot off the Sunday night win at New England.
Tampa Bay’s offense has maintained its Super Bowl form thus far leading the league in passing offense (349.4 YPG) and ranking third overall in both total offense (431.4 YPG) and scoring offense (33.4 PPG). Defensively, the Bucs are about mid-pack largely due to having both Week 1 starting corners (Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis) on the IR. Safety Antoine Winfield Jr will also miss Thursday night’s game with a concussion. Furthermore, linebacker Lavonte David, the leader of the Bucs defense, will also be out.
First-year Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has been criticized for his playcalling ever since the Week 1 win in Atlanta. This game is where he has to let Jalen Hurts try to make plays down the field. He showed signs of doing that in the second half comeback at Carolina last weekend.
Two weeks ago, the Eagles were getting the same number of points against the Chiefs at home and failed to cover in a 42-30 defeat. Currently, the Bucs are power-rated higher than the 2-3 Chiefs and yet the line has not adjusted? Hmmmm.
Pick: Eagles + 7
Burke: News broke on Tuesday that the Eagles would be without Dallas Goedert for the game against the Buccaneers. Goedert has been most effective on first down for the Eagles, where he has received 11 of his 19 targets and has nine of his 15 receptions. A lot of teams, especially those with young coaches, are making it a point to throw on first down.
Hurts has 82 pass attempts on first down, the most of any in the split. It is entirely possible that Zach Ertz picks up those targets, but I think we’ll see a different approach from Philadelphia.
There are two ways to look at this, and maybe both bets cash. The first is that Smith leads the team with 20 targets on first down. With Goedert out of the equation, Smith should get force-fed the ball in early-down situations. He should end up with a ton of targets in this game against a banged-up Buccaneers secondary on a short week. Smith’s target rate with Goedert in the lineup has been 24.4 percent on first down. You’d have to think it will be higher in the tight end’s absence.
Smith’s receptions prop sits at 5.5, a little bit higher than his season average. Without Goedert, though, you have to expect Smith to average more than the eight targets he’s received per game.
Pick: DeVonta Smith Over 5.5 Receptions (-130)
The other way to look at this is more involvement from Hurts as a runner. In first-down situations, the Eagles have run the ball 54 times, and Hurts has been the ball carrier on 18 of them. Without Goedert’s reliable hands, and with extra attention paid to Smith and Ertz, my guess is that we’ll see more designed QB runs for Hurts to try and create those second-and-manageable situations.
Hurts has averaged 8.6 rushing attempts per game and the line is set at 8.5 this week. Thirty-four of the 43 carries for Hurts this season have come on first and second down, which are the downs when Goedert has been most effective.
The pressure that we saw the Bucs get throughout the playoffs has not really been on display yet this season, as Tampa Bay has only recorded 10 sacks in five games. Hurts’ elusiveness should be enough to help him avoid sacks in this game and pick up some positive yardage on the ground.
The first read for Hurts may be to simply pull it down and run with less time to prepare for the Buccaneers defense. The Eagles do a good job of avoiding turnovers and the mantra for Hurts will be to take care of the football because giving it to Brady and the Buccaneers can only lead to bad things. My assumption is that all of these factors will force Hurts into more rush attempts.
Pick: Jalen Hurts Over 8.5 Rush Attempts (-105)