Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preview and Prediction

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 11, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 09:  Quarterbacks Nick Foles #9 and Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles give fans fives as they head to the field before taking on the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 9, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

All week, we've been hearing that Michael Vick is unlikely to play for the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, ESPN.com's Phil Sheridan reports that Vick apparently made some nice progress in practice this week and now we may be left waiting until 12:59 p.m. ET Sunday to get the final word on who will start under center for Chip Kelly's team.

That's probably a smart approach from a strategic standpoint. In addition to worrying about the potential presence of Staphylococcus in their dressing room, the Bucs will have to keep concerning themselves with which quarterback to expect.

There's the really fast guy who likes to camp out in the pocket, and there's that other guy. Nick Something. Both present unique challenges, which adds another element to this preview.

 

What Philly Must Do to Win, Offensive Edition

Regardless of who's at quarterback, the Eagles won't win this game unless they force that Tampa Bay defense to stay honest. They have to take some shots against an underrated defense in order to make room for LeSean McCoy.

 

What Philly Must Do to Win, Defensive Edition

Focus on Doug Martin and the Bucs' running game early in order to force young quarterback Mike Glennon to carry the offense. That should lead to more takeaways, which was the key to beating the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.  

 

5 Most Important Non-Quarterbacks

LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson: It's their job to make things easier on Vick or Foles. Period. The matchups aren't easy. Tampa's run defense has been stellar (3.7 yards per carry allowed) and Darrelle Revis is one of the game's best cover men.

DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks: Martin hasn't been lighting it up on a per-carry basis, but he's been a workhorse. The Eagles can't afford to let him slip away too often. This team isn't exactly known for its ability to tackle. 

Trent Cole: Someone has to lead this struggling pass rush.  

 

Injury Analysis, Eagles Edition

Vick is listed as questionable on ESPN.com, but I have a hunch he won't play and Kelly is just being strategic by drawing the decision out.

Anyway, I'm not even sure Vick gives the Eagles an advantage at this point. We're talking about a guy with a completion percentage of just 47 percent over the last three weeks. And he's just 3-for-19 this year in the red zone. Foles was solid in relief last week. 

 

Injury Analysis, Bucs Edition

Pat Yasinksas of ESPN.com reported that guard Carl Nicks has another staph infection, so don't expect him to play. I'm sure Isaac Sopoaga, Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton can appreciate that. 

Aside from that, Tampa Bay got a little healthier during its bye week. Vincent Jackson is no longer on the injury report and Mark Barron is practicing fully despite a hamstring injury. 

 

B/R NFC East Blog Prediction

Three of Tampa Bay's four losses have come by three or fewer points. Coming off the bye, the team is due for a win. At home, the Bucs do just enough against an Eagles team that is probably going to have consistency issues all season.

Bucs 27, Eagles 21