Tampa Bay Will Defeat Washington, Continue To Make Wild Card Race Interesting

The Bucs are still alive in the playoff hunt and the Redskins will try to figure out who stays with the team going forward. I’m not gambler, but I will say the Bucs have been a pretty sure bet against teams with non-winning records and I’ll take a look at the factors contributing to that before making my pick.

When Tampa is running: The running game has only been slowed by Josh Freeman’s struggles. Even still, they ran it for 151 against Atlanta last week though no one would confuse Atlanta or Washington with having a good run defense. I voted for LeGarrette Blount for the Pro Bowl and I think they have the most bruising 3-headed monster at tailback. Washington may have an emotional boost by not playing Haynesworth this week but they do give up 5.0 yards a carry. Edge: Tampa, strongly.

When Tampa is throwing: Josh Freeman is mentally strong enough to bounce back from his first losing streak of 2010. It was nice last week to see a great catch from Stroughter but I expect a big game from Mike Williams to test these safeties. Washington is 23rd in allowing receptions of 20+ yards and doesn’t have much depth at corner after DeAngelo Hall. Edge: Tampa.

When Washington is running: After giving up 100 yards in each of the first nine games, the Bucs have not allowed 100 yards in any of the last three games. Now, the 49ers run game has been bad this year and Baltimore’s is in a bit of down year due to injuries but that also includes Michael Turner on a muddy field when you would expect him to maybe get a push with what is considered to be the best offensive line in football. Washington gets Ryan Torain back. He averages around the same as Keiland Williams does and Clinton Portis did but he seems to make more plays in the red zone than those do. He doesn’t have amazing speed or moves, so Tampa will put another below 100. Edge: Tampa.

When Washington is throwing: In my previous post about the Redskins, I detailed how off their scoring is and it kind of starts with Donovan McNabb trying to fit into the Shanahan system without much help out front and without too many weapons. Ugly drops hurt them in the game against Tennessee and they are tied for a league high with 7 fumbles in the passing game. People have occasionally beat the Bucs deep and with the play-action, which Donovan will try to execute with Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong, and maybe Brandon Banks. I think the best way to stop the Redskins is get great pressure and try to take away the tight ends, which are there strong. Obviously, getting them to 3rd and long will be the main key, but Tampa Bay has had good success against tight ends in the red zone, with the Falcons’ Michael Palmer getting a touchdown on November 7th as the only red zone TD to a TE in the last six weeks. I expect McNabb to start improving soon and, if he doesn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rex Grossman get more than a cameo appearance. Edge: Tampa, slightly.

PREDICTION: I believe the Redskins will fight hard for the entire game, but Greg Olson will call this game as a coordinator determined to keep his job and Josh Freeman will have a bounce back game as long as he avoids getting baited by DeAngelo Hall (who sometimes gets breaks on the ball like that of Brent Grimes in his “interception” last week). I think it goes back and forth but we see a less conservative fourth quarter offense and the Bucs execute a big drive to win it. Buccaneers 31, Redskins 28.

The rest of the games (home team in bold):
Eagles 28, Cowboys 20
Ravens 30, Texans 28
Vikings 27, Giants 14
Chargers 21, Chiefs 20
Jets 31, Dolphins 28
Patriots 49, Bears 17
Broncos 21, Cardinals 20
Seahawks 27, 49ers 21
Saints 24, Rams 21
Bengals 27, Steelers 24
Jaguars 24, Raiders 10
Packers 63, Lions 28
Falcons 14, Panthers 13
Bills 20, Browns 6

(From Buccaneers Gab)

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