(5) Philadelphia Eagles @ (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went out and won the NFC South in the first year after Tom Brady retired, and many people felt like this Bucs team would be a contender for the no. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft before the start of this season. But the Buccaneers were never going to be bad enough defensively this season to be that bad. The question was always on the offensive side of the ball.
And Baker Mayfield answered that question in a big way.
Mayfield and the Bucs weren’t perfect this season, but they are winners of the NFC South and they did it with a winning record this season. That feels significant.
And I think there’s something really interesting about this round one matchup between them and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles feel like they’re really backing into the 2024 NFL playoffs and they certainly haven’t played good football a lot of this season. We saw the Eagles blow a chance at solidifying a division title with a bad loss at home against the Arizona Cardinals, and they’ve really been floundering at times due to the poor play of their defense.
Maybe a few weeks ago, I would have said that I think the Bucs are dead in the water for this matchup. I wouldn’t have given them a chance against the Philadelphia Eagles. And if this game gets to a shootout, maybe the Bucs won’t have enough to hang. But when it comes to NFL picks and score predictions, you’ve got to live on the edge a little bit and I am going to take the Bucs playing at home in this Wild Card matchup.
Prediction: Buccaneers win 23-19