Tampa Bay @ Washington (+8.5) Total 44.5
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a strange team to gauge this year, as both sides of the football have been very up and down while this team really tries to figure out its identity. Since Tampa Bay's bye week (Week 13), however, it finished the season 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS. The Bucs were 10-0 against teams with losing records this season, and 1-5 against teams with winning records. Fortunately for the Bucs, the Washington Football Team (WFT) is the only team with a losing record in the playoffs at 7-9 - although they are 5-1 with Alex Smith under center. Where the biggest question marks are in this game reside are in how the WFT can manage to outscore Tom Brady & Company. "The Football Team" has failed to score 20 points in seven straight games and two of its top playmakers in Antonio Gibson (turf toe) and Terry McLaurin (ankle) come into this game dealing with nagging injuries although they are both playing.
The Bucs defense has struggled in recent weeks, to say the least. Despite having top stats vs. the run, the Bucs have been very poor against pass-catching running back. Tampa Bay is the only team in the league to allow 100+ receptions to opposing backs, and with Alex Smith under center - as we've noticed over the course of the 2020 season - has been "the check down king." J.D. McKissic and Gibson will be used heavily in the receiving game in this one, which will help keeping the clock moving while WFT's front seven attempts to wreak havoc on Brady and the Bucs offense. Expect lots of short check downs to slowly move down the field for Washington, with Logan Thomas and McLaurin factoring in as well. Bucs top linebacker Devin White is OUT due to COVID-19 protocol, and if Washington can utilize Thomas like it has in recent weeks, that is where they can have even more success. The nagging ankle injury from Mclaurin may hinder the offense down the field and limit explosive plays though. In addition to McLaurin and the aforementioned Gibson, Smith is also banged up (calf). Look for the over on prop totals on Gibson, McKissic and Thomas for receiving here, as they all should be targeted frequently in a likely negative game script.
On the other side of the ball, the Bucs are going to have to do their best to score points on a tough WFT defense that is second best in the league in only allowing 191 passing yards per game. In the last 10 games, the WFT has allowed just 37 points in the second half total. These numbers are amazing, considering the halftime adjustments that are being made by opposing offenses, and the WFT's ability to still shut them down. This total is currently 44.5 and has come down already from the opener. Points may be hard to come by here, especially in the second half. Look for Brady to try to limit his mistakes against this dangerous Washington front and pass rush led by rookie Chase Young. The WFT defense and offensive tendencies, combined together, create a good opportunity to keep this a low-scoring game.