The Washington Football Team (7-9) won the NFC East for the first time since 2015 and finally returns to the playoffs after a four-year drought. It’ll welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) to FedEx Field for an 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday of NFL Wild Card Weekend. Below, we preview the Buccaneers-Washington betting odds and lines and make our NFL picks and predictions.
Buccaneers at Washington: Betting odds, spread and lines
Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Friday at 7:30 a.m. ET.
Money line: Buccaneers -350 (bet $350 to win $100) | Washington +290 (bet $100 to win $290)
Against the spread/ATS: Buccaneers -7.5 (-110) | Washington +7.5 (-110)
Over/Under: 44.5 (O: -110 | U: -110)
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Buccaneers at Washington: Game notes
The Bucs ended a 12-year playoff drought and return to the postseason for the first time since winning the NFC South in 2007. They finished second in the division behind the New Orleans Saints this year.
Washington earned the division crown and a playoff berth with a 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night of Week 17. Its season started with an upset win over the rival Eagles followed by a five-game losing skid, four-game winning streak, and back-to-back losses before the finale.
Tampa Bay won 11 of 15 games after a season-opening 34-23 loss to the Saints. The Buccaneers won their final four games of the season following a Week 13 bye.
Washington QB Alex Smith made a valiant return from a devastating 2018 leg injury to lead the team to a 5-1 record in six starts. He completed 66.7% of his passes for 1,582 yards and 6 touchdowns against 8 interceptions and was much better than both Dwayne Haskins (released) and Kyle Allen (injured).
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, 43, had a resurgent first season in Tampa, Fla. He completed 65.7% of his passes for 4,633 yards (his highest total since 2015) with 40 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions. The ageless wonder also ran for 3 scores.
Brady is 30-11 in the playoffs in his career, all with the New England Patriots. Smith has a combined 2-5 playoff record with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Buccaneers at Washington: Key injuries
CB Carlton Davis (groin) questionable
WR Mike Evans (knee) questionable
DL Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf) out
LB Thomas Davis (knee) out
RB Antonio Gibson (toe) questionable
WR Terry McLaurin (ankle) questionable
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle) questionable
QB Alex Smith (calf) questionable
Buccaneers at Washington: Odds, betting lines, predictions and picks
Buccaneers 21, Washington 17
Money line (?)
The Buccaneers (-350) should win this game behind Brady and the NFL’s seventh-ranked offense by yards per play (6.0), but they’re far too expensive. Trust the regular-season records, the better quarterback and the odds on the heavy favorite.
Officially, I’ll PASS, but I’m not against a small wager on Washington (+340) due to the tremendous value for an inspired playoff team at home. Washington has a path to winning this game behind rookie DE Chase Young and the league’s third-best pass rush by ESPN’s team win rate.
Against the spread (?)
The 7.5-point line has some “Brady Factor” baked into it with Tampa Bay having a significant edge in public favoritism. Washington was a fully-competent team under Smith with McLaurin (1,118 receiving yards, 4 TDs) and Gibson (795 rushing yards, 11 TDs) helping along the way.
Yes, Brady had a fantastic season and continues to play well below his listed age, but the Washington pass rush will be like none he faced this season. Add in potential injury trouble for Tampa Bay at key positions, and Washington will keep this much closer than the national audience expects.
Take WASHINGTON +7.5 (-110).
Only two teams played to a higher percentage of Unders than Washington’s 5-11 record against the number. While the offense struggled immensely under Haskins, the defense is the main reason why. Washington held the opposition to 17 or fewer points in all seven wins.
The Tampa Bay defense is often overshadowed by Brady, but it ranked fifth by Football Outsiders’ DVOA while Washington was third.
Take the UNDER 44.5 (-110), especially if backing Washington.
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