The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Washington to take on the Washington Football Team at the FedEx Field on Saturday, January 9, 2021.
Tampa Bay ended the second-longest playoff drought and made it to the postseason for the first time since 2007 behind six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady who joined the team last offseason from New England. The Bucs finished the regular season with an 11-5 record. Meanwhile, the Washington Football team became the first sub .500 team to make the playoffs since 2014. Washington finished the season with a 7-9 record but was the best team in the paltry NFC East. They also entered the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
The Bucs opened as 7.5 point road favorites but the line has since increased to 8 to 9 points, depending on which sportsbook you use. Washington won the last two head-to-head meetings between these two teams but the latest one came in 2018 when Brady was still with the Patriots.
Tampa Bay heads to this game as the 5th seed in the NFC and the owners of an 11-5 regular season record. The Bucs closed out their regular season campaign with four straight wins including a pair of 40+ performances to end the year. Tom Brady is having one of his best statistical seasons ever as the 43-year old has passed for 4,633 yards with 40 touchdowns.
Mike Evans is Brady’s favorite receiver this season with 70 catches for 1,006 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. However, Evans is listed as probable here with an injury. Ronald Jones led the team on the ground with 978 yards and seven touchdowns. Chris Godwin has 840 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns on 65 grabs while Rob Gronkowski has caught 45 passes for 623 yards and 7 touchdowns.
On defense, the Bucs have an above-average pass rush which has produced 48 sacks including 9.5 by Jason Pierre-Paul. Devin White has 117 tackles including 82 solo tackles. Carlton Davis leads the team with 4 interceptions. The Bucs ranked 7th in scoring defense as they allowed only 22.2 points per game this season.
Washington finished the regular season with a 7-9 record but because their division rivals were worse, they won the NFC East division and earned a playoff spot as the no.4 seed in the NFC. The Washington Football Team finished the year with five wins in their last seven outings and they needed to beat the Eagles in their final game to clinch their first trip to the postseason since 2015.
Alex Smith has thrown for a total of 1,582 yards with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. But more than the stats, Smith has provided this team with inspiration and led them to a 4-1 record as their starter. Antonio Gibson is the team’s best rusher with 795 yards and 11 touchdowns. Terry McLaurin leads the receiving corps with 1,118 receiving yards with four TD grabs. Logan Thomas has 670 receiving yards with a team-high six touchdowns.
Jon Bostic leads the Washington defense with 118 tackles including 61solo tackles. Kamren Curl has 63 solo tackles and 3 interceptions on the season. Kendall Fuller leads the team with four interceptions while Montez Sweat has nine sacks to lead the team. Rookie Chase Young has 7.5 sacks for Washington.
Tampa Bay is 4-1 SU in their last five games played. The Buccaneers are 5-0 SU in their last five games played on the road. Washington is 5-2 SU in their last seven games played. The WFT is 3-5 SU in eight home games played this season, 5-11 SU in their last 16 games played against the NFC South, and also 5-11 SU in their last 16 games against the AFC. Head to head, Washington is 4-2 SU in their last six games played against Tampa Bay.
It wasn’t smooth sailing but Tampa Bay did what most expected them to do: win 11 games and make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. But the Bucs look like they have peaked at the right time. Tampa Bay has won its last four games, including three by double digits and they have scored at least 44 points in each of their last two games.
Washington made the playoffs only because they played in the worst division we’ve seen in recent memory. Despite that, they head to this game with five wins in their last seven regular season games with four of those wins coming on the road.
Washington has one of the worst offenses in the league at 25th in passing and 26th in rushing. However, they have the 2nd best passing defense in the league and have held their opponents to 20 or fewer points in each of their last seven games played.
With Alex Smith compromised due to injury, Washington will look to run the football. However, they will not succeed against Tampa Bay’s NFL best 80.6 rushing yards per game allowed. Washington’s defense will slow the game down and keep the scores low. But Tom Brady and Tampa Bay have a very potent offense. There’s just too much gap between these two offenses.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games played. Tampa Bay is 4-4 ATS in eight road games this season, and 2-6 ATS in their last eight January games. Washington is 5-2 ATS in their last seven games played. The Washington Football Team is 4-3-1 ATS in eight home games played this season, 1-5 ATS in their last six games played in January, and 4-1 ATS in their last five Saturday games. Head to head, the Bucs are 5-4-1 ATS in their last 10 games played against the Washington Football Team.
Washington has a stingy defense that could pose problems for Tom Brady. However, their offense isn’t good enough to rely on defense to beat a prolific offensive team like Tampa Bay. Chase Young called out Tom Brady and that should fire up the six-time Super Bowl winner. Brady will sidestep the pass rush from Sweat and Young. He should be able to connect deep with his receivers. Meanwhile, Ronald Jones will help keep the Washington front seven to play honest defense. The Bucs have covered seven out of their last 10 games as road favorites. I’ll eat the chalk here.
Prediction: Buccaneers -8
The total has gone over in nine out of the 16 games played by the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has seen the total go over in five out of eight road games played this season. The over is also 15-5 in their last 20 games played against the NFC. The total has gone under in each of the last five games played by Washington. The under is 5-1 in the last six games by the Washington Football Team. Head to head, the total has gone under in six out of the last 10 meetings between these two teams. The under is also 4-1 in their last five meetings in Washington.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will score enough points to win this game but don’t forget that the WFT’s underrated defense is the reason why they are playing in this game. The hosts aren’t in a good position to win this game because they do not have the playmakers that Tampa Bay has. But Washington’s defense will force Tampa Bay to play to their game and keep this a low-scoring affair. The under is also 4-1 in Washington’s last five games as the betting underdog.
Prediction: Under 45
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