We (surprisingly) have made it through the 2020 NFL Season and now the playoffs are here! This year introduces a bye for only one team, as well as three Wild Card teams per conference. The NFL Playoffs are always unpredictable and adding another team should only increase the chance of an upset. With this in mind, every team feels like they have a legit chance to raise that Lombardi Trophy in a few weeks.
We’re looking at every matchup and diving into the history between the teams, the keys to victory for each side and a prediction on how we think it will play out.
In this preview, we’re looking at Tom Brady’s Bucs visiting a Football Team that puts the “D” in Washington DC.
These teams have not faced each other since 2018 when Alex Smith led Washington to a 16-3 win over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs. This game is significant as Washington’s next game is when Smith suffered his devastating leg injury.
The teams have split their two previous playoff meetings. Mark Brunell and Washington defeated Tampa Bay and Chris Simms 17-10 in the Wild Card Round in 2006, while Shaun King and the Bucs came out on top 14-13 over Brad Johnson’s Washington team in a 2000 Divisional Round matchup.
Fun Fact: This will be only the 16th playoff game in Buccaneers history.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Keys to Victory: Score 14 Points
This might seem silly to choose as the game’s key for Tampa, but it really might come down to this. WFT ending their season going 5-2 is commendable, and thankfully they spared the NFL from having a 6-10 Division winner. Washington also has some very nice skill players in receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson who can be building blocks for a bright future on offense.
However, the latest news around their starting QB this week is head coach Ron Rivera is considering rotating players at the spot. It’s not a good sign when you need to implement a “Lazy Susan” approach to the most important position on the field.
Tampa’s offense gets the headlines, but they have the #1 run defense in the league. If injuries and inexperience also neutralize the WFT passing game, then the Buccaneers won’t need to score more than two touchdowns for the victory (and might not even need that).
Washington Football Team Keys to Victory: Make Tom Brady Look 43-years-old
Dating back to Week 9 of the 2019 season, Brady is 1-6 in games that start past 8pm ET. All 6 losses have come to teams that would make the playoffs that season, and the one win was against this season’s 6-10 Giants. Brady has averaged 254 passing yards in these games with a 9/8 TD/INT ratio.
The WFT defense needs to do whatever it can to make sure this is the version of Brady who shows up on Saturday night.
The good news is they might be up to the task. Just look at some of the team’s NFC defensive rankings:
- #1 in Passer Rating against
- #2 in Interceptions, Passing TDs allowed, Completion % allowed and Yards per Attempt allowed
- #5 in Sacks
One of the key players for WFT will be defensive lineman (and 2020 #2 overall pick) Chase Young who has 4 sacks, 6 hurries and 8 QB hits in his last six games. Young seemed ready for the challenge when he called out Brady, but he should be aware that has almost never worked for opposing players in Brady’s career.
One final factor is the expected temperature for the game is below freezing. While Brady has played his whole career in cold weather, this will only be his second game this year that’s below 40 degrees. That will likely have an effect in slowing down the Tampa Bay offense.
Prediction: Brady Holds Off WFT’s Best Punch
This game might give Brady nightmares of Super Bowl 42 as the amount of pressure he’s going to face will limit what his high-powered offense can accomplish. However, the uncertainty at QB for WFT is just too great to pick the upset. It should be a close game with Brady leading a TD drive late for the 14-10 victory.
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