Following the Bucs’ 9-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Tampa Bay secured both the NFC South championship and a fourth-consecutive postseason berth. All eyes were on the playoff matchup board as the Bucs celebrated their hard-fought victory.
The playoff seeding was determined after Sunday’s games, and the Bucs have a little motivation going into their Wild Card meeting against the Philadelphia Eagles—the same team that defeated Tampa Bay in their opening game of the season—on Monday Night Football.
When the Bucs and Eagles met for the first time in Week 3, Tampa lost humiliatingly, 25-11.
But since that September encounter, a lot has happened, and the Bucs now need to improve their play to make the playoffs after winning five of their last six games.
Conversely, the Eagles had a 10-1 start to the season before dropping five of their final six games as they faded away.
With both quarterbacks hurt going into Monday Night Football’s Wild Card game, both teams will have to manage practice week.
Baker Mayfield, the quarterback for the Bucs, who hurt his ribs in the Week 17 matchup with the Saints, suffered an ankle injury early on Sunday and was clearly hobbling, even though he managed to finish the game.
Jalen Hurts, the standout quarterback for the Eagles, is also recovering from surgery after breaking a finger on his throwing hand. On Sunday, he exited the team’s season-ending game against the New York Giants. Philadelphia lost the next game, 27–10.
Bucs head coach Todd Bowles is getting his squad ready for the “tough” meeting, regardless of what transpired in the first few games of the season.
“Well, either way, it’s the playoffs. It’s going to be tough. We can use the extra day right now,” Bowles stated on Monday. “Next week, we’re probably [going to] need a couple extra days, but you don’t get to work it that way. We play who we play, we play when we play, and we line up and go.”
Despite the fact that Tampa Bay may have lost its opening game of the season, Bowles is optimistic that his team can handle Philadelphia’s offense and defense, despite any injuries.
“I don’t think it compares at all. It’s about the same for the most part. It doesn’t compare because we played [the Philadelphia Eagles] so early in the year. We were still growing, [and] I’m sure they were still growing. You know, playoff time is different, it’s one and done, everybody is nicked up, everybody is hurt, it’s just a matter of who makes the most mistakes,” he remarked.
On Monday, January 15, the Buccaneers and Eagles will play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. At 8:00 p.m. on ESPN, the Wild Card playoff game will begin.