Well folks, the NFC East divisional race is finally over, and that means playoff football is here. The Washington Football Team will limp into the post-season with a dismal 7-9 record, but there are perks to winning football’s worst division.
Their opponents will be the high-octane Tampa Bay Buccaneers featuring Tom Brady. The 43-year old has put together a solid campaign, but you can bet he is eager to erase last season’s playoff failures from his memory with a solid showing in 2021.
Despite the perceived mismatch in both of these teams’ records and the point-spread entering Saturday night’s showdown, the post-season often brings out excitement and surprises, and this encounter should be no different.
For deeper match-up analysis, team news, our prediction, and for who is starting under centre for Washington, continue reading our game preview below. It should be fascinating, as it usually tends to be when Tom Brady is involved! Enjoy the game, folks!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Football Team Betting Odds:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -8 (-110)
@ Washington +8 (-110)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-370)
Over 44.5 (-110)
Under 44.5 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Football Team Pick:
While the spread indicates this game won’t be close, the Washington defense enters feeling really good about where they’re at. They know that Tom Brady and this Bucs’ offense does have some flaws, and can be rattled.
We have seen in recent seasons Brady does tend to struggle against defenses that can apply pressure on him without committing many players to the blitz. The Washington defensive line is very capable of creating that scenario, and led by rookie Chase Young – this Washington defensive line is an absolute force. It’s likely they’ll be able to get into the backfield with regularity and pressure Brady on every drop-back situation. This could force for future Hall of Famer into many rushed situations, or some turnovers. Not having Mike Evans potentially as a downfield option also isn’t the best of news for Tampa.
Expect the Bucs to still be effective, as there are just too many talented pieces to not have success, but Washington will make it tough on them. Brady will likely turn regularly to short dump-off passes to Ronald Jones, or look to the slot on quick throws to the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown.
On the other side of the ball is where Tampa likely feels they can hold a bit of an advantage and turn this game in their favour. As of this writing, there is still confusion over who starts at quarterback for Washington. Alex Smith is still pretty banged-up, and Taylor Heinicke is also a possibility. Truly, I’m not sure it matters as both are quite equal in their effectiveness, and the Bucs have struggled vs. the pass all season.
While running the ball might be tough against Tampa, there could be openings through the air for Washington. Assuming they get Terry McLaurin cleared and healthy, this could be their big path to success on Saturday. We’ve seen in recent weeks, lesser offenses and QB’s torch Tampa through the air, and Washington certainly can replicate this – especially if they’re trailing.
While Washington still seemingly has legitimate injury concerns and are being quite secretive over the statuses of their QB, along with McLaurin and Antonio Gibson, there are multiple routes to success for them at home in the Wild-Card round. The Bucs should be able to escape with a victory, but look for Washington’s defensive line and passing attack to give them a real shot at covering this inflated number. A backdoor cover here is definitely a high possibility.