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September 14, 2018

Week 2 NFL predictions: Rounding up the experts' picks for Eagles-Buccaneers

The Eagles were able to squeak out a win in their season opener against the Falcons, a game that was eerily similar to their divisional round matchup at the Linc back in January.

This Sunday, after a nice long break, the Birds head to Tampa to face a Buccaneers team that turned quite a few heads in Week 1 when they beat the Saints at their own game (not to mention in their own building), winning a 48-40 shootout to pick up a big win against a divisional opponent. 

We've broken down the injuries, pointed out the key matchups to watch and offered our own predictions for what will be the Birds' first real road game in quite some time. 

Now, as we do every Friday, it's time to take a look around the nation to see how the various experts, both local and national, think Sunday's matchup is going to play out.

•  PhillyVoice staff: All five of us picked the Eagles to beat the Bucs, including Jimmy Kempski, who sees a 33-17 win for the Birds.

... It's projected to be 91 degrees and humid in Tampa on Sunday. You'd think that would work in the Bucs' favor, since they play there, but it won't. The Eagles have the deepest defensive line in the NFL, and have the advantage of rotating their personnel. You know, throwing fastballs, and whatnot. The Eagles should be well-positioned to take control of this matchup in the second half when fatigue sets in. 

Also, the Eagles are just a far better team, so there's that. 

•  ESPN staff: Nine of their 10 experts are picking the Eagles to improve to 2-0 this week. 

•  Tim McManus, Eagles 27, Bucs 13

Still no Carson Wentz, but the Eagles' offense should get going in Tampa. Mike Wallace noted this week that the Bucs play a lot of "quarters" defense, which he views as the ideal coverage to get deep balls. Nick Foles might air a few out against a banged-up Tampa secondary after playing conservatively Week 1. The Eagles' defensive front, meanwhile, will make it tough for Ryan Fitzpatrick to get his "magic" going.

•  Paul Gutierrez, Bucs 28, Eagles 26

Can the Bucs replicate last week's offensive firepower and Fitzpatrick's "Fitz-Magic" against the Eagles' vaunted defense? More importantly, can the defense that gave up 40 points and struggled against the Saints anticipate Doug Pederson's gadget plays? They did enough last week to earn a vote of confidence here.

•  Elliot Harrison, Eagles 21, Bucs 16

Consider this score a proclamation that: A) The Eagles' offense will struggle again, sans Alshon Jeffery, and B) Ryan Fitzpatrick will come back to Earth against a championship-tested defense. Philadelphia has the ability to rotate its defensive line, which should give Tampa's O-line plenty of issues. That's why it's imperative that the Bucs' Peyton Barber-led running game plays a larger role this weekend than it did in New Orleans. That is, unless Fitzy starts heaving long balls to Mike Evans, Kevin House and Jimmie Giles. Sorry, went back a few decades. It would be nice if Nick Foles could connect on one long ball of his own. It's been a minute. It will also have been nine days since Philadelphia presumably began preparing for this meeting.

• staff: Five of their experts are picking the Eagles over the Bucs, and just four of the eight thing the Birds will cover the three-point spread.

MORE: Eagles-Bucs predictions, odds and broadcast info

•  OddsShark: Their computer models are predicting the Bucs not only beat the spread, not only beat the Eagles straight up, but actually win by more a touchdown.

•  Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 30, Bucs 24

Doug Pederson understands the challenge of making key decisions during the flow of the game well enough to find a way to deliver. The fact that the Bucs are banged up makes that a little easier.

•  Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 21, Bucs 20

I’m tempted to pick the Buccaneers to keep rolling with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I just can’t pull the trigger on an upset of the defending champions.

•  Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Eagles 26, Bucs 16

The Eagles were sure to replenish their own D-line, which means Sunday's meeting between Philly and Tampa Bay will contain two stacked defensive fronts and two heavily hyped backup quarterbacks. And although Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers undoubtedly put together a more laudable Week 1 performance than the team they're essentially trying to become, our crew is unanimously prepared to lay three points with Nick Foles and the Eagles. 

•  SBNation staff Six of their eight football writers are picking the Eagles.

• staff: All four of their Eagles writers – Zach Berman, Les Bowen, Paul Domowitch, and Jeff McLane – are picking the Eagles to win. Here's what Berman had to say:

So much attention went to the 48 points that the Buccaneers scored last week, and not enough attention has been paid to the 40 points they allowed. That's a welcome sign for an Eagles offense that lacked firepower last week. Add in the injuries in Tampa Bay's secondary, and I expect a better outing from Nick Foles and Co. on Sunday. ... The strength of Tampa Bay's defense is their line, but there should be confidence in the Eagles' offensive line. With that said, this won't be an especially high-scoring game. In fact, the over/under is 44 one week after the Bucs played in a game that totaled 88 points. The Bucs' offensive weapons are impressive. Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn't lasted 14 years by accident, although he had a career day last week. My guess is the Eagles' defensive line makes it harder for him on Sunday. The key will be to keep the receivers from big plays. That has been a point of emphasis this week. I expect the Eagles to move to 2-0 with a win.

•  Bleeding Green Nation staff: Six of seven writers are picking the Eagles.

MORE: Philly Godfather: Smart money likes Eagles, Steelers & Falcons

• staff: All five of their football writers believe the Birds will win, including Eagles beat writer Zack Rosenblatt, who sees a 33-13 win for Philly:

Even though Nick Foles has struggled and will start again this week for the Eagles, the Buccaneeres are banged up, Fitzpatrick shouldn't find the same level of success against Philly's defense and the Eagles' offense is in line for some improvement.

This could be a blowout. 

•  Philly Influencer staff: All seven of their writers see the Eagles winning, including PhillyVoice contributor Nick Piccone, who sees a 34-21 win for the Birds:

If DeSean Jackson plays, he’s going to be the best Buccaneer on the field. It’s just science. Jackson always shows up for these games against his former team, but it won’t be enough for the Bucs. As long as Foles hits his open receivers – and they absolutely shouldn’t have many problems getting open – the run game will emerge as Ajayi, Clement and possibly Sproles [nursing a hammy] may collectively rush for over 200 yards. [Note: Sproles has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.]

•  David Steele, Sporting News: Eagles 29, Bucs 26

The dilemma for the Eagles after its opening-night close call against the Falcons: Enjoy how they made Atlanta look so bad in the red zone so often, but also stop letting teams get into the red zone so often. For one thing, red-zone scoring was not an issue for the Fitzmagic-led Bucs offense last week — they just flung it up and down the field. Nick Foles faces a defense that’s not in the same ballpark as the Falcons' unit, but still, they need to do better than "find a way to get it done" this week against this offense.

•  Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 27, Bucs 16

Who knew Nick Foles vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick would be a real matchup in Week 2? The Eagles' defense will come through with another strong performance while Foles, Jay Ajayi, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz find favorable matchups against the Bucs' defense. Philly fans will make the trip to the Pirate Ship to make it special.

RELATED: Jimmy Kempski's Week 2 NFL picks

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