NFL Wildcard Weekend – Game 3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team
Sat, Jan. 9th, 8:15 pm
FedEx Field – Landover MD
Betting Line: Bucs -8, Over/Under 44.5
Just as everyone predicted, the Washington Football Team has won their division and will host a playoff game after finishing the season 7-9. On the bright side for them, the only other two teams to win their divisions with a sub-.500 record, the 2010 Seahawks and 2014 Panthers, won their opening playoff games that season. They didn’t have to face Tom Brady, though.
After a massive renovation of the entire offense over the off-season, the Bucs have reached the playoffs and now is the time to prove whether those moves were worth it or not. At 11-5 and winners of four straight, Brady and the Bucs can’t look past this Washington defense. With an elite front-four, including Defensive Rookie-of the-Year Chase Young, The Football Team will need a massive performance from their defense and a mistake-free game from the offense in order to have any chance on Saturday night.
One other interesting tidbit to keep in mind during this game (and potentially moving forward in the playoffs): With the Super Bowl being played in Tampa Bay this year, the Buccaneers can become the 1st team in NFL history to play a home Super Bowl.
Let’s look at the marquee players and numbers coming into Saturday:
And the Key Trends for each team as well:
As much as I’d love for this game to be really close, the Bucs simply have too much fire power and Washington barely has any. Their one saving grace is their incredible defense and the teams unprecedented success in second halves of games, specifically the 4th quarter where they’ve outscored opponents 130-61.
That being said, they have only defeated one team with a winning record and without fans in attendance will have little to no home field advantage (unless the theory that Tom Brady can’t play at night anymore comes to fruition). Scoring for both teams may come at a premium given the talent on both defensive sidelines, but I just can’t see The Football Team finding a way to win this one. The spread being 8 gives me a bit of pause; teams hardly ever win by 8 or 9, so you’re really looking at a 10-point spread and with the potential for a low-scoring game, I just can’t pull the trigger on that. If the line drops to 7 for the Bucs, scoop that up.