- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will visit the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field on Saturday at 8:15 PM ET
- The Buccaneers only beat one team this season that finished with a winning record, while Washington finished the season 5-2 in games where Alex Smith was the team’s leading passer
- See the odds and our best bet for this Wild Card game below
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Football Team will square off on Wild Card Weekend in one of the more intriguing contests on the board. The Football Team finished 7-9 but given that they won their division (the NFC East), they’ll host this playoff game even though Tampa Bay finished 11-5.
Washington is the biggest underdog on the board on Saturday and underdogs have done well in the Wild Card round. Can they win or at least cover in this spot?
Buccaneers vs Football Team Opening Odds
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-400||-8 (-120)||44.5 (-110)|
|Washington Football Team||+310||+8 (-102)||44.5 (-110)|
All odds as of Jan 8th
Underdogs Have Thrived In Wild Card Games
If you’ve been betting dogs during the last three Wild Card Weekends, you’ve had plenty of success. They’ve covered the spread in 11 of the last 12 contests and very nearly went 4-0 straight up last season. Three dogs clearly won outright while the fourth was likely a dog (most books had Seattle as a one- or two-point dog but they were favored in a couple of spots).
Washington is getting a lot of points here, so they have plenty of room to cover – even if they don’t win outright.
Washington Has Been Competitive With Smith Under Center
As the playoffs begin, Washington has to feel pretty good about where they are. While their record says 7-9, it’s quite clear that they’ve been far more competitive with Alex Smith under center than any other quarterback. In games where Smith finished as the team’s leading passer, the team is 5-2; they were 2-7 in all other games.
The key to Washington’s success has been pretty simple: move the chains, keep possession and do just enough on offense. That’s because the defense – especially the front seven – has been wreaking havoc on opponents. Washington finished second in the NFL in yards-per-game allowed and fourth in points-per-game.
Washing Football Team’s offense with Alex Smith, Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson back pic.twitter.com/qKGGNUazx1
— Washington Football Talk (@WFTPod) January 4, 2021
They are also sixth in sacks, sixth in getting off the field on third down and eighth in takeaways. Opponents are having a tough time moving the ball and that’s what is allowing the Football Team to succeed with pedestrian offense. If they stick with the same formula, Washington should be in this game.
Bucs Are On a Roll
While the Bucs were in the spotlight in the early part of the season, they seemingly flew under the radar by the end. They finished the year on a four-game winning streak and quarterback Tom Brady had just one interception in the month of December. Even that one wasn’t his fault.
The concern with Tampa Bay is that they mostly had no problems beating the feeble teams this year but they struggled when stepping up in competition. They were spanked twice by the New Orleans Saints, lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, and even lost to the Chicago Bears. Taking a look at their wins, they only beat one team who finished with a winning record (Green Bay).
Tom ➡️ AB
Brady's 40th TD of the season 🔥
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 3, 2021
The challenge is that we know this team is capable of being better than they’ve shown. They have an offense loaded with weapons that finished the year third in points per game. They also have a defense that’s played well at times, finishing eighth in points per game, fifth in sacks and first in run defense.
The main issue for them has been turnovers. They had 17 giveaways on the season and 11 of them came in the five losses while they only had six in their 11 wins. If they play a clean game, they should win and cover.
What’s the Best Bet?
This is a bad matchup for Washington. They try to run the ball, play conservative and chip away with first downs. However, Tampa Bay’s defense leads the league in stopping the run and is much weaker through the air (21st). Washington doesn’t appear equipped to exploit that.
— Chris Bryant (@HogfarmerChris) January 4, 2021
On top of that, Smith has been somewhat turnover prone as he’s thrown at least one interception in five of his eight games. He’s now going up against a defense that is sixth in yards-per-game allowed and fifth in sacks, so he’s not going to be comfortable. That should lead to a Tampa Bay win and cover in this spot.
Prediction: Tampa Bay -8
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