|9 WAS (-113) @ pinnacle|
9* Take Washington (#146)
Washington hasn’t lost a game by more than a touchdown since Week 5. Their defense has been playing at a truly elite level; allowing just 14, 20, 20, 15, 17, 16 and 9 points in their last seven games; keeping a mediocre offense in every game. Ron Rivera faced Bruce Arians with the Panthers twice last year. Both coaches won once. Arians margin of victory? Only six points.
Tom Brady’s Kryptonite is a defensive line that can create pressure without blitzing. Washington has a top five pressure rate, which has resulted in a bevy of forced turnovers. Montez Sweat and Chase Young are the most dangerous defensive end duo in the league right now. Brady has been ‘off and on’ for extended stretches this season and I’m not convinced this is a good matchup for him. And let’s not forget – for the season, Tampa Bay is just 1-5 SU/2-4 ATS against opposing playoff teams – they’ve been feasting on the weak.
Two other teams in modern NFL history made the playoffs with a losing record and were disrespected by the pundits all week leading up to their games, just like Washington. The 2014 Panthers – coached by Ron Rivera – and the 2010 Seattle Seahawks both won their opening round games in SU fashion. What about playoff Wild Card Round home dogs of a TD or more? 4-1 ATS in opening round games.
Last, but not least, Washington’s offensive statistics lie. No, this team isn’t going to be an offensive juggernaut, but they also have more than half a season’s worth of stats with Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen and even Taylor Heinicke at quarterback; none of whom are capable NFL starters. Alex Smith, even at his advanced age, is a capable NFL starter, and Washington is 5-0 in the last five games that he’s been behind center. Take the points! Take Washington.