|2009 Bucs at Eagles Point Spread Odds & Matchup Report|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 07 October 2009 17:59|
This year's winless Buccaneers, however, don't figure to pose the problems they have in the past for McNabb.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Eagles –145. point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on the Eagles –14.5 (View NFL bet percentages).
The Eagles superstar is returning for his first action since Sept. 13, when he took a hard shot in the end zone after a rushing touchdown in a season-opening win over Carolina. Kevin Kolb started the last two games in McNabb's place.
"You're talking about one of the all-time greats playing quarterback," said coach Andy Reid, who can notch his 100th regular-season victory Sunday. "Somebody who has been here a long time and when it's all said and done will be one of the all-time greatest to play that position. It's always good to get that kind of a player back in there."
McNabb, who still feels some discomfort when he laughs, coughs or sleeps on his side, got some extra rest with the Eagles' early bye last weekend. Extended periods of sitting and standing are also uncomfortable for the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who doesn't expect to be fully recovered for another two to four weeks.
"The bye week came at the right time and gave me an opportunity to get back out there this week," he said.
McNabb hasn't fared too well against the Buccaneers (0-4) and safety Ronde Barber during the three-game slide, with three touchdowns and five interceptions. Barber has returned three interceptions for touchdowns and has 1 1/2 sacks in those meetings, which include Tampa Bay's 27-10 NFC championship win in 2003.
Although Barber is still with the Buccaneers, McNabb should find this matchup easier this time. Tampa Bay features the worst defense in the NFC, allowing 393.5 total yards per game.
The Buccaneers have already lost to the other three teams in the NFC East, but are a bit encouraged after last week's 16-13 loss at Washington. They had a season-high three sacks and defensive back Aqib Talib had three interceptions to bring Tampa Bay's season total to four.
Safety Tanard Jackson is also set to make his season debut after a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
"As far as being a defense that flies around and gets interceptions and make plays, that's starting to come," Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said. "Last week and the week prior to that we were able to get our hands on some balls. We were able to play fast, develop in our philosophy and develop in our beliefs and our core beliefs on defense. All those things are starting to come."
That defense will be tested on the ground by Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who is expected to play Sunday. Westbrook practiced Wednesday after sitting out Philadelphia's last game with a knee injury.
The extra week of practice should also benefit Philadelphia's wildcat offense with Michael Vick, who tormented Tampa Bay during his days in the NFC South with Atlanta. Vick saw his first action since 2006 in a 34-14 win over Kansas City on Sept. 27, running once for seven yards and throwing two incompletions.
"I think it will be pretty much be the same six, seven plays per game, go out and make the plays positive plays," Vick said. "Help the team, not hurt the team, which is my motto right now. If I only get five or six plays the rest of the season, then I'm content with that, but like I said, my objective is to win."
Philadelphia's second-rated pass defense is yielding an average of 156.0 yards. That could pose problems for Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Johnson, who made his first career start last week and completed 13 of 22 passes for 106 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Eagles (2-1), though, may be wary of Johnson's running ability after he gained 41 yards on seven carries last week.
"I'm expecting a great atmosphere," Johnson said. "The Eagles have a great organization; they're one of the top teams every year.
The Buccaneers could take pressure off Johnson with a strong effort from running back Cadillac Williams, who is averaging five yards per carry. Former Giants tailback Derrick Ward sat out last week with a knee injury, but returned to practice Wednesday for Tampa Bay.
Posted: 10/7/09 10:59PM ET