Shaq’s back, and the Bucs should beat the Eagles 34-21 to open the playoffs

Lavonte David is back, too.

click to enlarge Shaw Barrett in Denver in September 2020. - KYLE ZEDAKER/TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Shaw Barrett in Denver in September 2020.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have linebackers Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett back on the field Sunday afternoon when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card playoff matchup at Raymond James.

The last time these Bucs played a playoff game in Tampa, they became Super Bowl champs. While Tampa Bay won’t have the chance to do that this season, the team will play their first two potential playoff games at home thanks to second seeding in the NFC.

And while a back injury has top cornerback Carlton Davis III listed as questionable on the injury report today, Tampa Bay does get a boost from those two elite defenders returning after missing the final games of the regular season.

Without Davis—another corner, Sean Murphy-Bunting, questionable—the Bucs face another familiar foe: injuries within a secondary that hasn’t been healthy all year.

Don’t expect the injuries to matter. The Bucs will defeat the Eagles 34-21 in a dominant offensive performance by the GOAT, who should have a field day with an Eagles defense that is severely lacking in a few key areas.

Philadelphia is middle of the road in every defensive category, giving up 22 points per game despite having a defense that lacks any elite talent at the safety or linebacker positions. Its pass rush is equally mediocre, which could be a bad sign for the Eagles because Brady and this Bucs offense is virtually unstoppable when Brady has time to go through his progressions and find the open man.

Plus, the Eagles being that average could be seen as a bad thing considering Philadelphia’s schedule this year. These birds got to face division opponents Washington and the Giants two times a piece this season, and they got to face the Jets, Lions, Falcons and Panthers. That’s eight games (nearly half the schedule) against subpar teams, especially offensively.

So the Bucs could be on their way to a second straight year of making it to the Divisional round.

Not bad after a decade-plus of suffering.

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