Bucs-Eagles best bets: Will Tampa run away from Philly as big favorite?
The games haven't always been pretty, but the Buccaneers are marching into Thursday's contest with a 4-1 record after trouncing the Dolphins a week ago. Can Tampa Bay do the same against the Eagles, who staved off a 1-4 start with last week's impressive comeback victory over the Panthers?
Here's how we're betting Buccaneers-Eagles:
C Jackson Cowart: Leonard Fournette over 62.5 rushing yards
If I were to take a side here, it would be the Buccaneers, but this Eagles team has me a bit spooked after how they played each of the last two weeks. Still, I expect Tampa Bay to have control of this game and attack Philadelphia's suspect run defense over and over again.
Bruce Arians is notoriously hard to read when it comes to RB usage, but it seems clear that this backfield now belongs to Leonard Fournette, with Ronald Jones seeing six or fewer carries and a 17% snap-count share or worse in each of the past three matchups.
If Fournette is indeed the primary ball-carrier on Thursday, he'll have a chance to feast against an Eagles front allowing 122.4 yards per contest to opposing running backs - fourth worst in the NFL. The game script and matchup both favor big production for the Bucs' bruiser in this one.
Matt Russell: Miles Sanders under 33.5 rushing yards
If Mr. Cowart is backing a rusher, I'll flip to the other side and fade Philly's theoretical starter at the position.
There are two ways this can win. Firstly, the Eagles could note that it's a complete waste of time to even attempt traditional runs against Tampa's defensive line. Philly refused to run the ball with Sanders against the Cowboys during the team's last prime-time appearance. The Eagles even shied away from the run game against the Chiefs - the one side in the league you have to try to rush against!
The other way this wins is if Philly tries to run sparingly but does so with equal parts of Kenneth Gainwell and Jalen Hurts as part of a pass-heavy attack. The Bucs' top-ranked run defense will stop much of what the opposing offense tries to do, and the Eagles throw roughly a million times in a matchup where they will likely have to chuck it around to hang with Tom Brady and Co.
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