TAMPA BAY (4-1) AT PHILADELPHIA (2-3)
TV: NFL, Fox, 8:20 p.m.
Line: Tampa Bay by 6.5; O/U: 52.5
The Bucs kicked off the 2021 NFL season with a thrilling win at home on a Thursday night. They didn’t come close to covering, though, in a 31-29 win over the Cowboys. In fact, not one home team on TNF this year has covered (they’re 3-2 straight up). So can the Eagles stop that streak?
The numbers say they’re an underdog in that regard, too. Home teams are 38-41 overall this season (not including the London game) and even worse against the spread (ATS): 31-45-3. Home underdogs are 10-16-1 ATS. Wait, there’s more stacked against the Eagles: Tom Brady, who at 44 is still somehow checking off never-before-done feats (last week was the first time he’s ever thrown for 400 or more yards and five TDs in the same game), is 13-3 all-time on TNF. He’s also 19-3 against the NFC East and 4-1 vs. Philly. That doesn’t include Super Bowl LII, though, the famous "Philly Special" game.
Which brings me to why I’m picking the Eagles to cover. Despite everything stacked against them, this is the NFL. Philadelphia had no business covering last week, let alone winning, when it fell behind 15-3 at Carolina. Then Jalen Hurts and the defense stormed back for a 21-18 win. Now Brady (15 TD, 2 INTs) isn’t going to throw three interceptions the way Sam Darnold did, but the NFL’s leader in passing yards is dealing with a right thumb injury suffered in Tampa Bay’s 45-17 win over Miami on Sunday. Brady is downplaying the injury, but it doesn’t take a doctor to know that a quarterback’s throwing hand is key to his team’s success.
The Bucs also have injuries on defense and are not 100%. If Hurts and the Eagles can limit their own mistakes — remember, they had their chances in a 42-30 loss to Kansas City in their last home game — this can be a competitive game.
All signs point to the Bucs winning, but covering isn’t a lock. With a chance to go from 1-3 to 3-3 in a matter of five days, I expect a motivated Philadelphia team to give the Bucs a fight.
The pick: Philadelphia
Bob Glauber: Tampa Bay
Al Iannazzone: Tampa Bay