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7 Key Points to Understand Before the Wild Card Game

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Philadelphia found themselves in a bit of a rut toward the end of the regular season, finishing 1-5 in their last six games, but still managed to clinch a playoff spot for the third consecutive year with an 11-6 record. Despite their late-season struggles, the Eagles were able to finish seventh in points per game and have the NFL’s top offensive line as well as a dynamic duo at the wide receiver position. They now face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom they had previously defeated in Week 3 of the regular season.

The Eagles and Buccaneers have a storied playoff history, having met five times previously, including an NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia in 2002 to close out Veteran’s Stadium. The most recent playoff meeting came just two years ago in 2021 where Jalen Hurts made his first road playoff start, only for the Buccaneers to win 31-15. This year’s playoff matchup will be a rematch of their Week 3 meeting at Raymond James Stadium, where Philadelphia emerged victorious with a 25-11 win.

In the 2023 season, both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin of the Buccaneers surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark, marking the fifth time in franchise history that multiple Buccaneers surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in the same season. Additionally, running back Rachaad White was one of six players to amass 1,500+ scrimmage yards and 9+ touchdowns. Buccaneers rookie defensive players Yaya Diaby and Calijah Kancey have shown improvement throughout the season, combining for 22 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits, 11.5 sacks, and 59 pressures. Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. has also been a standout player for Tampa Bay, being 1-of-4 players since 2000 with 5.0+ sacks, 5+ takeaways (interceptions + fumble recoveries) and 5+ forced fumbles in a single season.

Linebacker Lavonte David was the only player in the NFL with 100+ tackles, 15+ tackles for loss and 3.0+ sacks, and tackle Tristan Wirfs made the switch from right tackle to left tackle this offseason, finishing as the fifth-highest graded pass-blocking tackle.

The Buccaneers have been a strong competitor in recent years, holding at least a share of the NFC South lead in 43 of the last 51 weeks and winning three consecutive NFC South division titles. They are also the only NFC team to reach the playoffs in each of the past four seasons.

Now, as the Eagles prepare to face the Buccaneers in the Wild Card round, they will need to consider the dynamic offensive players, such as Evans and Godwin, as well as the standout rookie defenders. The matchup between these two teams is sure to be exciting as they face off once again in the postseason.

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