Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) takes the snap during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)


Patrick Werkmeister

In the opening contest for Sunday’s NFL Wild Card slate, Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles look to steal one on the road at Raymond James Stadium against Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last week, Philadelphia was absolutely blown out by the Dallas Cowboys 51-26, whereas the Bucs throttled the Carolina Panthers, 41-17. With this being the second meeting between these teams this year, Tampa came up with the win in the first game by just a seven-point margin. However, this matchup will look quite different with heavy rain and winds in the weather forecast. With this in mind, here is what I love in this Wild Card matchup.

Buccaneers (-7.5)
The Buccaneers opened this game as whopping ten-point home favorites, but they are currently favored by just seven and a half-points. Although Philadelphia has an impressive record of 6-2 SU in their last eight games, the Bucs are a stellar 6-2 ATS in their previous eight contests. Although the Eagles were able to claw their way into the postseason, they lack in some of the most critical areas that make up a successful playoff football team. Among playoff teams, they rank at the bottom in categories such as rushing yards per attempt and passing yards allowed per attempt. With Tom Brady at home against one of the worst passing defenses in the whole league, the Birds could find themselves in a hole early. Brady and the Bucs have averaged a staggering 33 ppg at home this season. Although this Eagles offense has the most plays of 20 or more yards, they are a top five worst unit in yards allowed, so watch out for Brady to come out on fire. With an awful record of 1-8 against teams above .500, statistically the Eagles stand no chance. Take Tampa minus the points to easily handle Philly.

Draft Kings Promotion

DeVonta Smith Over 43.5 Receiving Yards
Following a solid rookie season, wide out Devonta Smith will be the go-to guy for his former college teammate and QB, Jalen Hurts. He totaled 64 catches on a whopping 104 targets for nearly 1,000 yards. Hurts clearly favors him, and it will be an all-out air attack for the Philly offensive. Smith is a premium first year receiver in the NFL and with his receiving total this low, it must be taken advantage of. With the Eagles’ four running back committee drawing enough attention, all focus will be on trying to stop them, which should give Devonta the opportunity to be productive. The Bucs defense has not been as steady in any fashion this year, so expect them to try and find success through the air. Smith has had some monstrous outings this year where he has three 100-yard outings and two games with double digit receptions. With how big of a threat, he is, no matter who’s guarding him, he’ll make teams pay that give him any space at all. Expect Devonta to be the go-to guy and take him to get it done on the receiving end. 

Rob Gronkowski Any Time TD (+125)
Following an outstanding regular season, Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski should be a big part of the passing attack with his best friend Tom. Although he is now 32 years old, Gronk has still proven he is a top receiving threat. On the year, he has caught 55 balls on 6 touchdown receptions for an impressive 802 yards in 12 games played. Additionally, he has nearly 100 targets in a pass-heavy system, so he has been a big part of their offense. Gronk is a great red zone threat and with his touchdown prop looking this juicy, it must be taken advantage of. With so many weapons on the Bucs offense, all focus will be on players like Mike Evans or Le’Veon Bell, leaving Gronk wide open. The Eagles have the worst pass defense not only among teams in the playoffs but among all NFL teams, so watch for him to be productive in some fashion. He has had some monstrous outings this year where he’s had three multi-td games and three 100-yard outings. With how sure handed he is, he’ll make teams pay that give him any space at all. Expect Rob Gronkowski to have a productive night overall and take him to score one for the Bucs. 

Same Game Parlay
Gronkowski Anytime TD Scorer, Brady over 270.5 Pass Yds, Miles Sanders Over 45.5 Rec Yda\s, Bucs -7.5 and Over 46.5 Pts.

SGP Odds +4213

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