WHERE: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
SPREAD: Bucs by 3
WHERE THE EAGLES STAND:: 10-5 Record. The Eagles won the NFC East Division title and will be the No. 3 seeded team in the NFC playoffs.
HEAD COACH: Andy Reid (1-1 vs. Bucs head coach Tony Dungy).
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Ron Dowhower
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Jim Johnson
SPECIAL TEAMS COACH: Dave Toub
MATCHUP TO WATCH:. EAGLES DE HUGH DOUGLAS vs. BUCCANEERS LT KENYATTA WALKER: This will be the matchup to watch in both games. As most Bucs fans remember, Douglas raised a lot of havoc in last year's playoff meeting between the Bucs and Eagles by recording two sacks. Douglas' first sack caused QB Shaun King to fumble and set Philadelphia's offense up in scoring range. The sack and fumble changed the momentum of the game and things went downhill for the Pewter Pirates from that point on. While Walker and Douglas may not see a lot of playing time on Sunday night, Walker should benefit from going to war with Douglas before their playoff meeting. Douglas tore apart ex-Bucs LT George Hegamin in the playoff game last year, and one would think he could do some damage against Walker. But Walker has been playing well as of late. Tampa Bay's offensive line has not allowed a sack in two games after allowing 44 in the first 13 games of the season. Douglas has recorded 9.5 sacks this season.
HOW THE BUCS RANK IN THE NFL:
OFFENSE: OVERALL: 24th RUSHING: 28th PASSING: 16th
DEFENSE: OVERALL: 5th RUSHING: 13th PASSING: 4th
HOW THE EAGLES RANK IN THE NFL:
OFFENSE: OVERALL: 18th RUSHING: 15th PASSING:20th
DEFENSE: OVERALL: 9th RUSHING: 20th PASSING: 3rd
TURNOVERS KEY: Tampa Bay is first in the NFC in turnover ratio. The Pewter Pirates have a plus 17 turnover ratio and their defense has come up with 26 interceptions this season. Philadelphia thrives off of turnovers as well. The Eagles have a plus nine turnover ratio. The Eagles have recovered whopping 28 fumbles and 12 interceptions.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Philadelphia Eagles have posted an impressive 6-1 record on the road this season. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have posted a 5-2 record at Raymond James Stadium this season.
BEWARE OF MITCHELL: Eagles kick and punt returner Brian Mitchell is averaging 25.1 yards per kickoff return this season and has scored one touchdown (94-yards). Mitchell also handles punt returns for the Eagles, and is averaging 12.0 yards per return.
SIMON SAYS… Philadelphia Eagles DT Corey Simon is quite a force on their defensive line. Simon has recorded 7.5 sacks this season and is solid against the run and in his pursuit of opposing quarterbacks.
BEWARE OF LEWIS Philadelphia TE Chad Lewis is a quiet weapon on the Eagles offense. Lewis, who made the Pro Bowl last season, has 41 receptions for 422 yards and has scored six touchdowns. Lewis is one of QB Donovan McNabb's favorite targets in the red zone, but Lewis also helps move the chains on other areas of the field.
BUCS SOUND OFF ON THEIR UPCOMING OPPONENT
Bucs head coach Tony Dungy on Tampa Bay playing at home against Philadelphia: "We play well at home and like defending our home turf," said Dungy. "We want to get to 10 wins. You always want to play well against teams you're going to see later down the road, whether it's next week of five weeks from now."
Dungy on how much Tampa Bay will show Philly "You certainly don't want to shoot all your bullets," said Dungy. "But you want to outplay, out-hit and win the game."
Dungy on the unique situation Tampa Bay and Philly have been presented with this Sunday in terms of facing each other two weeks in a row "I've never been in exactly this situation," said Dungy. "But as a player, I've been in a situation where we had to play the same team two weeks in a row. When I was in Pittsburgh, and it happened to me once when I was in Kansas City on the last game of the year. There was more riding on those games, but you do have a mental edge if you win the ballgame."
Dungy on whether or not he will take his team up to Philly early or maybe even consider practicing for the playoff game at the Tropicana Field, where the Devil Rays play on the same turf as Philly has and the temperatures can be lowered to near freezing "No," said Dungy. "The surface is not going to matter. Four teams have gone there and won and they didn't practice in their weather or on their turf. When we practice well here, it usually carries over."
Dungy on what the backups need to do on Sunday against Philly "They just have to be ready to play," said Dungy. "I can relate to that because this was my time of year in Pittsburgh. After we got things clinched there, I got a chance to play. I understand how that goes. When you play, you feel like you have a chance to make your mark, but you can't try to do a season worth of things in one game."
Dungy on how much playing time QB Shaun King will get against Philly "We don't know how much he'll play for sure yet," said Dungy. "I think it's important. He played a little in the Minnesota game. We'd like to get him as much work as possible. Getting him ready for the playoffs can be beneficial."
Dungy on what Tampa Bay will do this week in terms of their kicker "My sense right now is we're leaning toward Doug (Brien)," said Dungy. "We will probably keep Doug (just in case there is a recurrence with Martin's hamstring injury). Unless we have another injury and need another roster spot, because Martin hasn't really kicked a lot, we'll probably keep Doug. But we'll see."
Dungy on why he thinks the Eagles play so well on the road "I think it's their mindset," said Dungy. "They know it's going to be tough on the road and they have guys that can make plays. They've just gone and beat people on the road. I'm sure they're trying figure out why that hasn't transferred to their home record. I think their road record just speaks for their tenacity and their mindset."
Bucs SS John Lynch on facing QB Donovan McNabb and Philly's offense: "When you study Philly, they usually run about 15-20 running plays," said Lynch. "But when you factor Donovan (McNabb) into the equation, that count goes up to about 25 running players per game. That's something we have to be aware of."
Bucs LT Kenyatta Walker on facing Pro Bowl DE Hugh Douglas: "There's no defensive end I haven't faced this year," said Walker. "I take my hat off to Hugh (Douglas). He's a good player, a Pro Bowl player. But I'm facing one every time I line up when I go to work on Sunday. I play at a position where I have to be ready to come play every Sunday. It's a big game, but I'll see him twice. By the playoff game, I think I'll know exactly what I'm dealing with. It really takes me that first quarter or so to see what's coming. I'm kind of glad I'm playing him at the end (of the season) because I don't know how that second game would have been."
Bucs LT Kenyatta Walker on Sunday's game "We've got to go out there and do our job," said Walker. "We've got to go out there and get our 10th win and prepare for the playoffs. We want to go into the playoffs with momentum."
Bucs DT Warren Sapp on where Tampa Bay is right now "I think we like it the way we've got it right now," said Sapp. "We're in a situation where we've got to play. That ain't bad this group that we've got. Right now we're clicking on all cylinders. All three phases of our ball game are coming home when it should."
Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson on how a win against the Eagles on Sunday night could bode well for the Pewter Pirates "Yeah, if you go out there and we play the regular people and take care of business then it carries that momentum into the Philadelphia Eagles game," said Johnson.
.Bucs TE Todd Yoder on how Tampa Bay is approaching this game "We're playing at home and we obviously want to win," said Yoder. "You never want to go into a game thinking it doesn't mean anything. Some of the guys that are banged up will rest, but it's a good chance for a lot of the backups to get a lot of game reps."
FLYNN'S FINAL: Yes, this game appears to be meaningless, but there are some things that the winner and loser of Sunday's night's contest will come away with.
Tampa Bay needs this win this game more than Philadelphia does. The Bucs were pounded in Philadelphia last year, 21-3, and although they want revenge, their confidence may still be shaky.
The most significant roster change that will take place will be at the quarterback position for the Bucs. Tampa Bay QB Shaun King not only has starting experience, but he's also faced the Eagles. King will likely play for at least a half.
One has to like the way Tampa Bay's depth matches up against Philadelphia's on paper, but the Eagles are a very good road team and have posted a 6-1 record away from Veterans Stadium this season.
Tampa Bay wants to make a statement on Sunday night, and one way they can do that is by getting a lead while some starters are playing. If the Bucs do this, they will stand a good chance of winning this game. But unfortunately, I don't see the Bucs keeping their starters in that long, and I have a hunch the Eagles will continue their tear on the road.
FLYNN'S PICK: Eagles 13 Bucs 12
Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com
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