Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Football Team – NFL, Wild Card Weekend (January 9, 2021)

By Dean McHugh in NFL
| January 5, 2021 9:34 am PDT

Saturday’s action concludes with Washington hosting the Buccaneers in what many are describing as the least competitive first-round match up.

The NFC East Divisional champions Washington come into the playoffs with the worst regular-season record with seven wins and nine defeats.

The Bucs finished second in the NFC South, narrowly missing out to the Saints, but they did finish with a superior record to that of Washington, winning 11 of their 16 games.

However, Washington will fancy their chances against the Bucs, having won nine of the last ten against them, which includes the last four games in a row.

Buccaneers vs. Washington Odds

Buccaneers -8-110
Washington +8-110
Buccaneers To Win-420
Washington To Win+320
Over 45.5 Points-110
Under 45.5 Points-110

The spread looks high to me here, probably two or three points bigger than I expected. Yes, the Bucs have had a much better regular season, but Washington seems to have a hold over them, which certainly shortens the handicap in my eyes. The bookmakers expect a relatively low scoring game between these two teams.

Buccaneers Analysis

After a small blip losing back-to-back games for the first and only time, this season these Bucs bounced back to win their last four games in a row.

On the road, they had the best record in the NFC, winning six of their eight games. They put a strong run together on the road towards the end of the season, winning their last five straight, which will surely give them confidence here. One thing that should be noted, however, is in those five games, they didn’t beat anyone of note, and no teams that qualified for the playoffs.

They have done well, too, against the spread recently, and their last five games read exactly the same as their straight up record with four wins and one loss. The trend continues when you look at the recent games played against Washington on the road as they have won four of the last six.

In their wins recently, they have really opened up against teams and not eased up when they have them on the ropes, especially away from home, where four of the last five games have gone over the betting total. However, that hasn’t been the case when facing Washington as only two of the last seven games have gone over, and four of the last five in Washington have gone under.

Apart from their rushing yards gained and passing yards conceded, the Bucs have pretty much been faultless this season.

Offensively they are averaging just shy of 290 passing yards per game, which has resulted in an average of 30 points scored each week. This, of course, is largely down to the legend that is Tom Brady. Brady finished the season with 4633 passing yards, the third-highest in the regular season. He also became the first 40-year-old quarterback to throw 40 touchdowns in a season. He reached this feet over the past couple of weeks, throwing eight touchdown passes in his last two games.

Defensively they are only giving up 327 yards per week, which is helped massively by the fact that they defend particularly well against teams that run the ball. They have the best rushing defense in the league, allowing just 80 yards on average per game. Linebacker Devin White has been a key to this success amassing 140 tackles this year, which is the fifth-highest in the NFL. White sat out of their victory over the Falcons but is expected to return for this one.

However, they will need to defend against passing teams better as they are currently allowing their opponents to complete 69% of their passes, which is the fourth-highest in the league and certainly won’t win them a Super Bowl. This isn’t helped by the fact that they have the fourth-lowest number of sacks made in the league this year.

Wide receiver Mike Evans could be a doubt for this one as he went off late in the first quarter last time out after dropping a touchdown pass. The signs are currently that he has a 50/50 chance of making the lineup.

Washington Analysis

Washington head into the playoffs as the first team since 2014 to qualify with a negative regular-season record. They booked their place with a workman-like victory over an Eagles team that rested quite a few players.

At home, they too have a negative record of three wins and five defeats, which includes losing the last two against the Seahawks and the Panthers.

Against the spread, they have been good recently, winning five of their last seven games. However, that win percentage drops considerably when you analyze their games at home as they have only won six of their last 18.

Their games have certainly been one of the lowest scoring in recent weeks, with all of the last five going under the betting total. This also follows suit when you break down the games played at FedEx Field, as five of the last six have also gone under.

With this in mind, it is no surprise to see that they have relied heavily on their defense this year, and this is the main reason that they have reached the playoffs. They are only giving up just over 300 yards per game and under 200 passing yards per game, which will be key against Tom Brady and the Bucs. They are only averaging 20 points against them per game, which is the fourth-lowest this season. They have also made the fifth-highest number of interceptions and second-highest number of sacks, which again will be key to stopping the Buc’s superior passing game. Lastly, they have the third-lowest passing success rate against them and with all of this combined makes for a very intriguing game.

Offensively they have been very poor, averaging just 317 yards per game, which is the lowest of all of the teams that have qualified for the playoffs. They only average 20 points per game, which is why they have been involved in so many close games this season.

Buccaneers vs. Washington Betting Pick

Pick
  • Washington +8
    -110

On paper, this should and could be a stroll in the park for Tampa Bay. However, you have to take into account that Washington is good in the areas defensively where the Bucs are offensive, which is probably why they have done so well against them in recent years. They will look to nullify them and make this a close, ugly game. Therefore I am going to take Washington +8 to win.

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