Tue, 26 Sep 2023

Tampa Bay Buccaneers It's a battle of unbeatens on a national stage in Week Three, as the Buccaneers welcome the defending NFC champion Eagles to Tampa and try to extend a four-game winning streak against their Philly rivals Scott Smith

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0 in 2023 after their Week Two win over the Chicago Bears by a score of 27-17. They will try to fashion their first 3-0 start since 2005 in Week Three, but it will be quite a challenge. Next up is a home date with the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, and the game will have a national audience.

The Bucs and Eagles square off on Monday Night Football on September 25, with kickoff scheduled for slated for 7:15 p.m. ET. The game is part of an MNF double-header, as the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals will kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET on the same evening.

The Eagles are also trying to preserve a perfect record after their 2-0 start, a season after they went 14-3 in the regular season, earned the top seed in the NFC playoff field and eventually lost a 38-35 thriller to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. Philadelphia opened its 2023 slate with a 25-20 win at New England and followed that up four days later with a Thursday night home victory against the Minnesota Vikings by a 34-28 margin.

The Bucs will try to follow their formula of avoiding mistakes as their new offense jells around new starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, along with an aggressive defense that forces turnovers and puts pressure on the quarterback. Through two games the Bucs have notched five takeaways and not turned it over once, and they have recorded eight sacks on defense while only allowing one on offense.

Jalen Hurts, who finished second in NFL MVP balloting last season, will lead the Eagles into Raymond James Stadium, where they have lost in their last two visits, including a Wild Card playoff contest after the 2021 season. The Buccaneers have actually won their last four games against the Eagles, evening the all-time regular season series at 8-8. The two teams have also met five times in the playoffs - Tampa Bay's most postseason meetings with any team - with the Bucs leading, 3-2. The Buccaneers notably won the 2002 NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia, 27-10, to earn a spot in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Hurts emerged as one of the NFL's most dangerous dual threats in 2022, as he threw for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns while also scoring 13 times and rushing for 760 yards. He is surrounded by a talented cast of skill-position players headed by wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. Through two games, Smith leads that cast with 11 catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Driving the Eagles' offense is an elite offensive line that sent three players to the Pro Bowl in 2022.

The Eagles' defense also poses a significant threat with a talented front line that in 2022 produced a league-high 70 sacks. That group lost Pro Bowler Javon Hargrave to the 49ers in free agency but added Georgia's Jalen Carter in the first round of this year's draft. Carter has already recorded a sack and two tackles for loss. Veteran cornerback Darius Slay recorded his 27th career interception in the team's Week One over the Patriots, returning it 70 yards for a touchdown.

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