It looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick is making a bid to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers permanent starter, and he has a good chance to supplant Jameis Winston if he continues to play like he did in the opener. It’s a lot to expect from the career journeyman and unlikely, but oh what a performance he had on Sunday. FitzMagic shredded the Saints secondary and all of a sudden the Bucs’ season doesn’t appear to be doomed before it even starts. The Bucs continue a brutal three-game opening stretch by hosting the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.
Watch this Week 2 regular season matchup live on Sunday, September 16, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Philadelphia Eagles -3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3
The line opened at Philadelphia -3 and hasn’t moved, though a high percentage of the early action is on the visitors. The Bucs are getting some respect after knocking off the Saints as a 10-point road dog and we’re still keeping a close eye on Philly’s quarterback situation. The total opened at 44, a number the Bucs topped by themselves in New Orleans.
DeSean Jackson – Tampa’s electric performance was marred by the loss of Jackson, who sustained a concussion late in the game. He was hurt on his fifth catch of the game, taken hard to the turf and rattling his melon. Jackson had his catches on five targets for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns, getting behind the defense for scores of 58 and 36 yards.
Vernon Hargreaves – The Bucs also lost starting cornerback Hargreaves to a shoulder injury. He was helped to the locker room in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. Hargreaves was in on a big play in the second quarter, forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by a teammate that extended the Bucs lead to 14 points. He had seven tackles and a pass breakup.
Alshon Jeffery – There wasn’t much in the passing game for the Eagles in their opener and the absence of Jeffery played a part. Without his ability to stretch the field, the Eagles managed just 119 net passing yards. Jeffery had 57 catches last season and averaged 13.8 yards per catch to lead the team.
Matchup to Watch
The Saints’ defense ended up being decent last season and Fitzpatrick ripped them for a career-high 417 yards and four touchdowns in Tampa’s stunning 48-40 season opening win. Who needs Winston when FitzMagic is alive and well? The 35-year-old veteran looked like a rookie hitting 21 of 28 attempts while adding another 36 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Now it’s up to Fitz to try and keep the momentum going against one of the best defenses in football. With Fletcher Cox leading the charge, the Eagles hounded Matt Ryan last week, posting four sacks and 13 quarterback hits while allowing him to complete fewer than 50 percent of his passes. Philly locked down in the red zone, too, holding the Falcons to one touchdown in five trips and limiting them to only nine points in those five drives.
0 – The Bucs played a near flawless game on offense in their win over the Saints, compiling 529 yards of offense behind Fitzpatrick’s 417 passing yards and an additional 112 yards on the ground. But that’s only part of the story. Fitz was able to operate in a clean pocket all afternoon with his line not allowing a sack.
And the Bucs held onto the football, not committing a turnover while turning two New Orleans miscues into touchdowns. The first coming on a fumble return by Josh Evans and the second coming on a Fitz scoring pass to Jackson after the defense forced and recovered a Michael Thomas fumble to thwart another Saints drive.
Free ATS Pick
It’s hard to imagine Fitzpatrick having a game as good as what he put together to beat the Saints. And with Jackson in concussion protocol and questionable, that hinders the offense even more. The Bucs can’t run the ball the Eagles will be all over Fitz when he drops back.
Philly has a potent defense and it silenced a good Falcons group last week, and the Eagles won’t be taking Tampa lightly after watching film of last week’s game. The Eagles need to work things out on offense and because of it I’m leaning to the under. I also like the defending champs to cover the spread in a road win.
NFL Betting Odds:Eagles 20, Buccaneers 15
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