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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try again for consecutive victories, something it has not achieved in two years. The 4-5 Bucs travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles this week and the Eagles are favored by 6-points for the game which will air on FOX at Noon (CT).
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Philadelphia is 4-5 too and coming off a 20-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Sam Bradford suffered a separated left shoulder in the loss and has been ruled out for this week’s game. Mark Sanchez will get the start. Philly will also be without RB Ryan Matthews who suffered a concussion, and safety/special teams Jerome Couplin is out with a shoulder injury. LT Jason Peters is questionable.
The slew of injuries may slow Philly. Sanchez threw 14 of 23 for 156 yards in his first game this season, and five drives by him resulted in a FG, two punts, an INT and a turnover on downs. Not good.
Sanchez started the final eight games last year, after replacing Nick Foles in Week 9. The Eagles went 4-4 with him starting. He set a franchise record with a 64.1 percent completion ratio but he threw 11 INTs and lost three fumbles as Philly missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record. He threw an INT last week at the 9-yard line and blew the chance for the Eagles to make a go-ahead FG.
“I feel very confident in Mark Sanchez,” Chip Kelly said. What is more questionable is his receiving corp. It has dropped 21 passes and the TEs and RBs have picked up the slack. Matthews has 51 catches for 552 yards and two TDs, but the other WRs are not producing.
WR Miles Austin has 12 catches for 212 yards and a TD, while TE Zach Ertz has 36 catches for 382 yards. RB DeMarco Murray has 35 catches for 268 yards. TE Brent Celek has four catches for 134 yards.
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Kelly said “We don’t really care who we get the production from, as long as we’re getting it from the entire offense.”
Philly has 11 TD passes this season and ranks near the bottom of the category, but the Bucs have allowed five receivers to go over 100 yards. Philly has won three straight in this series, and two of them were in Philly.
Tampa Bay seems to be gaining ground with Jameis Winston showing what made him a No 1 overall pick. Winston had a four game streak without a turnover but against Dallas he went 22 of 39 for 264 yards with a 56-yard TD drive setting up a 1-yard TD with 54 seconds to go in the game.
Winston has helped the Bucs come back from a 1-3 start and has a passer rating of 88.0 in his past five games. The defense has been instrumental given the lack of point support.
The Bucs have not made the playoffs in seven seasons, but this year might snap that streak. “We talked about being relevant, we are. We’re in the mix,” HC Lovie Smith said.