The Philadelphia Eagles elected to rest most of their key starters last week, while the Buccaneers played to win in their victory over the Panthers. That win gave Tampa Bay the NFC’s No. 2 seed, setting up this an intriguing early Sunday afternoon matchup. Tampa Bay will be hoping some important injured players can return in time for this one as the Bucs begin their attempt to defend their Super Bowl title, while the Eagles will look to shock the world.
Let’s take a look at the best Eagles vs. Buccaneers player props picks for this NFC Wild Card game matchup.
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Player Props Picks
Tom Brady Longest Completion Under 35.5 Yards
Tom Brady has had one of the best passing seasons of his long and storied career, catching late traction in the MVP discussion.
However, he will be playing this one without several of the key contributors who helped make his season such a success. Antonio Brown was cut (you may have heard), Chris Godwin tore his ACL, and Mike Evans is nursing a tweaked hamstring. Some of those stars’ replacements are now injured, as well, as Breshad Perriman will play but didn’t practice as late as Thursday, and Cyril Grayson is doubtful.
Unfortunately for Brady, of the six players who caught passes longer than this prop’s number during the regular season, only three even have a chance to play this weekend, with Rob Gronkowski being the only one not featured on the injured list in some capacity. Gronkowski’s only catch of 36 yards or more this season came last week in a blowout of Carolina in which Brady was trying to get his buddy to some of his incentive markers.
Perriman’s only catch this year that was long enough to crack this bet came in overtime on the touchdown that beat Buffalo, meaning he did not accomplish this feat during regulation football. That leaves just Evans, who had just one such catch at home this season entering last week’s blowout, and is always a play away from blowing a tire with that strained hamstring.
Brady won’t likely see a lot of deep looks that he likes against this Philadelphia defense, either. The Eagles allowed a catch of 36 yards or more in less than half their games, including just three of their nine road outings. They also failed to allow more than one such catch in any game this season.
The Eagles allowed the second fewest yards per reception this season (9.2), lowering that number to just 8.8 over their last three outings. Philadelphia was actually the league’s best team in limiting yards per catch on the road, too, allowing just 8.8 yards per reception. With Brady working with a limited cast of reliable characters here, we don’t see him connecting on a long one against this quality pass defense.
Be sure to take a look at our best Eagles-Bucs betting promos and best sportsbook bonuses for NFL Super Wild Card Weekend right here.
Rob Gronkowski Anytime Touchdown Scorer
It almost feels like Rob Gronkowski might be the only tight end in the league to have not scored against the Eagles this season. Philly has has allowed 14 touchdowns to tight ends in their last 15 games, including a third and fourth to Dalton Schultz last week.
The reason Gronkowski failed to score against the Eagles this season for a simple reason. He didn’t play in the first meeting. Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard ate up a lot of Gronkowski’s usual snap count in that one, with Howard hauling in a first quarter touchdown.
Gronkowski actually missed five games this season, yet still finished second on the team with six receiving touchdowns. With a banged up cast of receivers and running backs around him, expect to see Gronkowski on the field a ton here, as he has tremendous worth as a blocker. He has proven a reliable option for Brady over the years and is likely to be the one he prefers here with so many new, unproven, and hobbled guys seeing playing time.
Rob Gronkowski anytime TD opens at +125 on FanDuel
Attempted insurance fraud aside, Gronk has crushed in recent weeks. Tallied 7th-most RZ TGTs among TEs in just 12 games. PHI allowed most TE TDs (14) in the regular season. #FadeTheNoise pic.twitter.com/8ZKsGNDtny
— Brad Evans (@NoisyHuevos) January 13, 2022
No team in the league allowed more receptions or touchdowns by tight ends this season than Philadelphia. Tampa Bay scored 68.3 percent of its touchdowns through the air this year, football’s fourth highest rate and one that jumped to 73.5 percent at home. No team threw for more touchdowns this season than the Buccaneers, as they averaged a league best 2.5 passing scores per game overall, including 3.1 passing touchdowns per home contest — also an NFL best.
Gronkowski scored two touchdowns in his last playoff game, which was last season’s Super Bowl. Incredibly, in his last 18 playoff games, he has produced 14 touchdowns. With Leonard Fournette working back from injury, Brady will likely need Gronkowski’s steady hands in the red zone to ensure a victory over the Eagles on Sunday.
Note: Check out our three best Raiders vs. Bengals player prop picks.
DeVonta Smith Anytime Touchdown Scorer
For as good as Tampa Bay’s run defense has been over the past three seasons, its pass defense has proven vulnerable. In fact, 66.7 percent of the touchdowns scored against the Buccaneers this season came via the pass, the league’s fifth highest rate. Unbelievably, the Bucs allowed 85.7 percent of the touchdowns against them through the air at home this season, the NFL’s highest rate. Tampa allowed 15 wide receiver scores on the year, despite playing three games in which the it didn’t concede any touchdowns at all.
Now, while no one is likely to confuse Jalen Hurts for a dynamic pocket passer at this point in his career, he should have a better feel for the game in his second bite of the apple against Tampa Bay. Opponents threw the ball more against the Buccaneers than any other team (66.5 percent of the time), including 68.5 percent in Tampa Bay, also a league high.
DeVonta Smith is the first Eagles WR to catch a TD in his first NFL game since 1990. pic.twitter.com/HN69tQX9d1
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) September 13, 2021
We like DeVonta Smith to haul in a touchdown in this one with the Buccaneers having banged up cornerbacks and also needing to commit bodies to Hurts, who rushed for two scores in the first meeting.
Smith leads the Eagles in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. His five touchdown catches also mark a team-best. Three of his five scores came on the road and four of them came in the final nine games.
The rookie has also shown a knack for scoring in big games. He pulled down a touchdown in his first NFL game, while also scoring in a multitude of important contests while at Alabama. Smith scored four touchdowns across three National Championship Games, four more in the CFP Semifinals, and another in a Citrus Bowl. This will obviously be his most important outing as a professional thus far and we expect to see him tally another big score.