The old saying of football games are won in the trenches couldn’t be more true with the Tampa Bay-Washington Wild Card game on Saturday. Whoever controls the line of scrimmage in this contest should advance to the next round of the NFL Playoffs.
That is why with this week’s One Bet, $100, I am taking Washington +8.5 points at home against Tampa Bay. I don’t think Washington is going to beat Tampa Bay, but I do think they are going to give them fits, and make this game a lot closer than 8.5 points.
My last bet on the NFL was on the final game of the season when I stupidly believed Philadelphia would be able to take down Dallas. The Eagles got trounced, and my record went to 3-4 on the season.
One Bet, $100
|This Week||Last Week||Season Total|
|Washington +8.5||Lost: Philadelphia||3-4, Down $35|
It appears the sharps share my feelings on this game, though. The line opened at 6.5 points, and was quickly bet up to 8.5 by the public. The sharps, however, have brought it down a half-point, and it now sits at eight.
The action, though, is still firmly on Tampa Bay. At William Hill, 79 percent of the tickets and 80 percent of the money bet on the game is on the Buccaneers.
Washington Defense Vs. Tampa Bay Offense
The key to this game will come down to Washington’s defensive line versus Tampa Bay’s offensive line. If the front four of Washington can get to Tom Brady, they will force him into mistakes. Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite Chase Young made the bold statement that he was looking forward to playing Brady.
“Tom Brady, Tom Brady, I’m coming!” Young exclaimed. “I want Tom!”
That might be youthful exuberance, but Young and his fellow lineman, most notably Montez Sweat, might be able to back up the bragging.
The defense ranked second in pass defense in the league. The games where Brady struggled were against teams that were proficient in that area.
Tampa Bay has the offensive line to protect Brady, and with weapons such as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown, as well as tight end Rob Gronkowski, the secondary is going to have its hands full for most of the day.
Washington Offense Needs Big Game
Alex Smith is the feel-good story of the NFL, and the leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. That is all well and good, but Smith needs to play like a Pro Bowler if Washington is going to have any chance of winning this game.
Smith is 5-1 as a starter, and that bodes well for Washington. What is even more impressive is that one of those victories was against Pittsburgh.
What should scare bettors like myself is that Smith is questionable for this game. He suffered a calf injury a couple of weeks ago, and has not practiced a lot this week.
Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters he believes Smith will be ready to go.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Rivera said. “He’s a veteran guy, and he’s done some good things, and he’ll continue to do some good things for us.”
If the team can continue to run the ball effectively, and put pressure on Brady, they have a chance for the upset. I don’t think that will happen, but I do think they’ll keep it close.