Several weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the hottest teams in the NFL after reeling off four straight wins. Two weeks later, they have dropped two consecutive contests and now need a win against the free-falling Philadelphia Eagles to stay afloat in the NFC playoff picture.
The Eagles are mired in an eight-game losing skid, and will likely undergo major changes in the offseason. Quarterback Michael Vick won't play again this year, which means rookie signal-caller Nick Foles will be under center for the last four games.
Meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have faced two tough opponents in the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos over the last two weeks and, at 6-6 right now, would lose out due to tiebreakers for the postseason if they remain tied with either the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Redskins, due to head-to-head losses to both teams.
Quarterback Josh Freeman leads Tampa Bay's offense, as he ranks sixth in the league with 23 touchdown passes to go along with 3,003 passing yards and eight interceptions. Additionally, the Buccaneers rank first in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, giving up only 82.3 per game.
Meet the Philadelphia Eagles
Along with Vick, running back LeSean McCoy is still recovering from a concussion suffered in Week 11 against the Washington Redskins. Rookie back Bryce Brown will likely see plenty of carries, as he joins Foles in a very young Philadelphia backfield.
Defensively, the Eagles have allowed 30 or more points in five of their last six games. Philadelphia's defense is giving up 26.7 points per game at this point, which ranks 26th in the league.
Local Takes: Buccaneers
JCDeLaTorre from Bucs Nation says Tampa Bay might not be a true contender:
"For the second consecutive week, the Bucs are reminded just where they are a tinge behind the top contenders in the league. To win close games against the league's best on the road - you can't make stupid mistakes. It also wouldn't hurt to have a pass rush and a secondary. The Bucs are well coached and maybe playing a little bit beyond their means at this point but they're not an a elite team."
Local Takes: Eagles
Jordan Raanan at Bleeding Green Nation is looking forward to the future with Bryce Brown:
"There weren't just signs that he could be a player, there were moments that said he could be a star. Plays that left you wondering just how good the Eagles running could be next season with LeSean McCoy, Brown and a new coaching staff."
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Now Gruden's talking to the Raiders? Why is everyone so obsessed with Gruden?— Sander Philipse (@Bucs_Nation) December 5, 2012
The worst part of Washburn firing is that it seems to be because of his behavior, rather than his horrible wide 9.— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) December 3, 2012
@BucSidelineGuy - TJ Rives, Buccaneers Radio Sideline reporter.
@RoobCSN - Reuben Frank, Eagles writer for CSNPhilly.com.
Bo Jackson had one career game with 160 or more rushing yards. Bryce Brown has two career games with 160 or more rushing yards.— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) December 4, 2012
So Nick Foles is starting the rest of the way, which is the right move. Michael Vick may have played his last down as an Eagle, assuming whoever the new GM in Philly is doesn't want his $100 million contract on the books. The Eagles are losers of eight in a row, their coaches were making fun of each other and the fan base is wondering if any coach on the staff should return. So things are a little tough in Philly.
The pick: 30-13, Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay opened as eight-point favorites, according to OddsShark, and that's where the line remains. The over/under point total for the contest began at 45½ and has since moved up to 47 total points.
In Week 15, the Buccaneers travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in a crucial NFC South showdown. The Eagles, on the other hand, have a short week of preparation as they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.