The final game of Super Wild Card Weekend on Saturday belongs to the New England Patriots and Washington Football Team. While Washington probably doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs with a record of 7-9, they are not one of the teams that benefited from an expanded playoff format. Washington won the pitiful NFC East, so they would be going to the playoffs regardless of more teams playing. They were granted a gift after the Philadelphia Eagles handed the game to them on a silver platter. Not only a silver platter, but a red carpet laid out for them to dance on. The Eagles decided to go full tank mode to ensure that they’d receive the No. 6 pick in the draft.
The New York Giants were furious, but they really have only themselves to blame. A 6-10 team shouldn’t get triggered over failing to go to the playoffs. If they played just a little better than bad this season, the Giants wouldn’t have had to worry about the Eagles throwing a game on Sunday night. Washington has the privilege of hosting a playoff game because they won the division.
The 11-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers must head on the road because they finished behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. Despite the Buccaneers going on the road as a lower-seed, they won five more games than Washington, and are the clear betting favorites on Saturday night.
While the deck appears to be stacked in favor of the Buccaneers in this one, don’t discount a very talented Washington defense. Their offense leaves a lot to be desired, but Washington has a good enough defense that it wouldn’t be shocking to see them pull off an upset. The Seahawks were below .500 when they upset the Saints in 2011 at home.
That was the Beast Quake game when Marshawn Lynch ripped off one of the more memorable runs in NFL history. The Buccaneers might have Tom Brady, but Washington has a defense that might be able to bother him. It won’t be easy, though isn’t the most impossible assignment tonight. Head below for our free Buccaneers vs. Washington props for January 9, 2021 in the NFL Wild Card Round. We have more props for the earlier games between the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills, along with the LA Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
Tom Brady Passing Yards
The popular opinion going into this one is likely that Tom Brady is going to easily slice through a bad Washington team. Washington might be a 7-9 team, but they went through a lot of issues before things settled down a bit and there was some structure. Dwayne Haskins would have made a lot of teams lose games in the NFL.
Defensively Washington is much better than their record indicates. They didn’t finish below the .500 mark because of their defense, which has been pretty strong this season. Stronger than you would believe given their poor record of 7-9.
Washington finished fourth in the NFL with just 20.6 points allowed per game. Not bad for a team that needed a gift to reach the playoffs. The success of Washington can be traced back to their secondary. They’ve been one of the best in that regard, with just 191.8 yards allowed through the air for second in the league. Brady is coming off three big performances, but look at who he played.
He beat up on the Falcons’ defense twice and then the Lions. Prior to those games, Brady was held to 196 yards against the Minnesota Vikings. They still won the game, 26-14, and that’s the objective, but it wasn’t because Brady went off.
If the Bucs do get an early lead, expect them to sit on it instead of throwing into the strength of Washington. The Tampa defense should be good enough to hold a lead against Alex Smith. Brady should have a solid game, but see him registering fewer than 288 yards.
Ronald Jones Rushing Yards
The Buccaneers will look to get Ronald Jones involved early and often on Saturday night. If Washington can pressure Brady, which I think they can, the offense is going to come down to how effectively Jones can run the football. He is the No. 1 running back ahead of Leonard Fournette and will receive the brunt of the carries for Tampa.
Jones gained 978 yards and 7 touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry. He had four 100-yard games for the Bucs, which was highlighted by a season-high 192 yards against the Carolina Panthers on November 15. Since then, Jones has rushed for at least 60 yards in three out of four performances. Those three games came in his most recent outings against the Chiefs, Vikings, and Falcons.
Washington has been better against the pass during the regular season. They allowed an average of 191.8 passing yards per game, as noted above. The Football Team was more vulnerable against the run, though. They conceded 112.8 yards a game on the ground, which put them around the middle of the league. Not bad, but it’s their secondary and pass rush that really got them to the Wild Card Round. The way I see it, 56.5 yards looks low here, so the OVER carries some value.
Logan Thomas Receiving Yards
Former Virginia Tech quarterback, Logan Thomas, has emerged as a crucial member of the Washington offense. With Alex Smith at the helm under center, Thomas has gotten more looks in the passing-game. Overall on the season, he caught 72 receptions for 670 yards and 6 touchdowns on 9.3 yards per reception. Thomas recorded a season-high recently against the Seahawks, as he made 13 receptions for 101 yards on December 20. Logan followed up for 7 receptions and 63 yards the following week against the Carolina Panthers. In Logan’s last five games, he’s had 68.4 yards receiving per game. For Washington to win, there has to be an x-factor that steps up for them on offense. That person could be the tight end, Logan Thomas.