The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Philadelphia Eagles may not seem like the closest matchup of the Wild Card round based on all that we know about both teams. But given the fact that we're now entering the postseason, where the best of the best are the only teams remaining, anything can happen. And for that reason, no one can ever take an opponent too lightly. Just ask the Colts!
Someone who isn't going to take his Wild Card opponent lightly? Tom Brady — especially after he needed every ounce of last-minute greatness he could muster just a couple of weeks ago to defeat the New York Jets.
"We're gonna have to play our best game of the year. I mean, this is our toughest opponent all year," Brady said in a postgame press conference after the Bucs' Week 18 win over the Panthers. "We're playing a team that's very talented, you make it to this point for a reason, and we gotta do everything we can do to get the one. This is a football team that's been playing really well, good on offense, they've got a very good defense, good front, been very healthy. It's gonna be a very tough game."
In their first matchup of the season, the Bucs won 28-22 at Lincoln Financial Field. As close as that score looks, it doesn't even fully tell the story, as a late-game taunting penalty may have legitimately taken the Eagles' opportunity of a game-winning drive away from them.
But that's beside the point. What's more important is that these two teams were very competitive when they first faced off, and this was when the Bucs were fully healthy and before the Eagles had discovered just how lethal their rushing attack could be. In that game, they ran the ball 19 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Since that game, they've ran for more yards in every game — and even doubled that total in five contests.
Brady wasn't alone in feeling that the Eagles are a team that need to be reckoned with, even if they did come into the playoffs with a relatively inexperienced offense and coaching staff.
Check in with 94WIP's Eliot Shorr-Parks for more thoughts on the upcoming Eagles-Bucs showdown.