Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5 9-7 ATS) at Washington Football Team (7-9 9-7 ATS)
In the prime time Wild Card game on Saturday, the Washington Football Team try to score a big upset hosing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are an 8.5-point betting favorite with a total of 45.5.
The public has backed the Bucs in this NFC playoff game, as they opened as a 7.5-point favorite and are an 8.5-point favorite as of Tuesday.
Washington won the NFC East by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 in the season finale. Many think the Eagles tanked the game by putting in their third-string QB in the fourth quarter but Washington’s pass rush took over and that pass rush is vital in this game.
The Bucs ended the season winning their last four games and in the last four games of the season, Tom Brady led the league in passing yards and TDs. The Washington defense has to deal with a Tampa Bay offense that ranks second in the league in ppg.
One thing Washington has going for them is their great pass rush led by rookie Chase Young. When Brady struggled this season it was because of pressure and Washington has to have a great game from the pass rush to beat the heavily favored Bucs.
The D is also key for the Football Team since Alex Smith is still not 100% and that hurt them in the win over the Eagles with his obvious lack of mobility.
These teams have not met since the 2018 season.
The road team is 5-0-1 ATS in the last six games between these teams.
The GOAT Has a Lot Left in the Tank
Tom Brady had a great first season in Tampa at age 43 with 4,533 passing yards with 40 TD and 12 INT. In the Bucs’ four-game-win streak to end the season he had 12 TD and only one INT and was only sacked five times with three of them coming in one game.
Brady has many targets but his main one in Mike Evans is a question mark for this game. He injured his knee in the last game, which was a 44-27 win over the Falcons, and while tests revealed there is no structural damage Evans is listed as day-to-day.
Still, Brady has Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Scotty Miller, and Antonio Brown, who had 11 catches for 138 yards and 2 TD in the win over Atlanta.
Ronald Jones rushed for nearly 1,000 yards this season and played well at the end of the season averaging 74 rushing yards over his last three games.
Washington may have the best pass rush in the league and a solid secondary but they have a knack for giving up the big play, which does not bode well with Brady coming to the Nation’s Capital.
Feed Off the Defense
Washington’s offense has to feed off the defense, who must play well for the team to have any chance to win. In the win over the Eagles in the finale, the team only had 248 yards but their D forced three turnovers.
In the win over Philly Alex Smith came back after missing two games with a calf injury and he battled through to pass for 162 yards with two TD and two INT and was sacked three times.
He has some good young weapons with the likes of the WR duo of Cam Sims and Terry McLaurin and TE Logan Thomas but his line has to give him time in the pocket, as the Eagles game showed he cannot avoid the pass rush with his legs.
Antonio Gibson rushed for 75 yards averaging 3.9 yards per carry in the finale and with Smith still banged up his role is key in this game.
Tampa Bay led the league in run defense this season but their pass defense did allow 246.6 passing yards per game.
Devin White and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for 18.5 sacks this season and Washington’s offensive line has to keep them out of the backfield, especially with a hobbled QB.
The Bucs have covered the spread in four of their last five games while Washington has covered in five of their last seven games.
I think with the pass rush Washington has they will give Brady fits. However, they will not keep the GOAT down and the offense will struggle to move the chains. I do not see Washington getting blown out but Tampa Bay will still win rather comfortably and cover the spread.
PICK: Buccaneers -8.5