The Washington Football Team will host the Tampa Bay Bucs in the Wild Card round of the 2021 NFL playoffs. The game is scheduled for Saturday, January 9th, with kickoff set for 8:15 p.m. ET. The game will air on NBC. If the Bucs win the game, they will face the Packers, Saints or Seahawks on the road, or host the Rams in the Divisional round. If Washington wins, they will face the Packers, Saints, Seahawks or Rams on the road.
How Washington and the Bucs got here
Washington clinched the No. 4 seed in the Wild Card round after winning their division in a devastating season for the NFC East. They finished the year at 7-9 to become the third team in the Super Bowl era to clinch a playoff berth with a losing record.
Washington’s defense was key to advancing to the post-season in 2020 as well, ranked third among NFL teams in Defense DVOA. Their offense, conversely, finished the season ranked 32nd in Offense DVOA... ouch. Despite the talent of offensive studs RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin, the Bucs will present them plenty of challenges on both sides of the ball in this playoff matchup.
The Bucs missed out on a divisional title, thanks to the New Orleans Saints, but they did manage to clinch the No. 5 seed in the NFC with their 11-5 record. Tampa’s first playoff berth since 2007 seemed all-but-inevitable once the team signed Tom Brady in the offseason. They cultivated an offense with some of the most talented playmakers in the NFL, signing TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Antonio Brown to join an already-stacked receiving corps alongside Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
Amid the offensive weapons, the story of the Bucs’ defense sometimes gets lost in discussion. In Todd Bowles’ second year as defensive coordinator, this unit held opposing defenses to just 5.1 yards per play, the sixth-fewest among NFL teams and generating 25 turnovers on the season (fifth-most). They dominated at and around the line of scrimmage with studs Devin White, Shaq Barret, Jason Pierre-Paul, William Gholston and Ndamukong Suh, while DB Carlton Davis led the team with 4 INTs in the secondary. Even with Davis looking iffy for the Wild Card round with a groin injury, the Bucs will have plenty of weapons with which to bully the Washington Football Team’s lacking offense.
How to watch
Date: Saturday, January 9th
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
TV channel: NBC
Live stream: NBC Sports
Opening odds for Washington vs. Bucs
Point spread: Bucs -8.5,
Point total: 45.5
Moneyline: Bucs -400, Washington +330