Buccaneers game day is approaching, and it’s time for the PewterReport.com staff to offer up its weekly game predictions. Let us know what you think in the article comments section and add your prediction, too.

WHEN: January 9, 2021
KICKOFF: 8:15 p.m. ET
WHERE: FedEx Field
TV: NBC
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Mike Tirico
ANALYSTS: Tony Dungy
SIDELINE: Kathryn Tappen
RADIO: 98 ROCK 97.9 FM
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gene Deckerhoff
ANALYST: Dave Moore
SIDLINE: T.J. Rives
SPANISH RADIO: 96.1 FM
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Carlos Bohorquez
ANALYST: Martin Gramatica

Join PR’s Matt Matera on PewterReport.com’s Red Board to talk Bucs football for a live game day chat, starting at noon. on Sunday all the way through to the final whistle. Click the link below to access the Game Day Thread on the Red Board.

JOIN THE GAME DAY THREAD BY CLICKING HERE AND JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

Scott Reynolds: Bucs Beat Washington, Advance In The Playoffs

The Buccaneers are the better team in this playoff match-up against the Washington Football Team. Tampa Bay’s 11-5 record is proof of that, while Washington had to win at Philadelphia in Week 17 to improve to 7-9 and win the NFC East division. But the records go out the window in the postseason, especially because Washington has one of the best defenses in the NFL and has held its last seven opponents to 20 points or less. The strength of Ron Rivera’s defense starts up front with five – that’s five – first-round picks, including defensive ends Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan and defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Tampa Bay’s offensive line is in for a challenge, but has only allowed 22 sacks this season – a far cry from last year when the O-line surrendered 47.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Chris Godwin
Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs offense is averaging 30.8 points per season – 10 more than Washington is averaging – and is loaded with way more firepower. Tampa Bay’s offense has been hitting on all cylinders since the bye week, averaging 37 points per game over the last four games. While Tampa Bay has scored over 40 points in back-to-back games, don’t look for that to happen against Washington’s stingy defense. But I think the Bucs will score 30 points, which is something they’ve done eight times this season, and that should be enough to win in the nation’s capital, as Washington’s offense isn’t explosive and won’t be able to keep up. Tom Brady utilizing the quick screen game to Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski is key to negating Washington’s pass rush.

Getting off to another good, fast start is critical for the Bucs, and racing out to a double-digit lead should make Washington one dimensional and allow Todd Bowles’ defense to tee off with some exotic blitz looks against Alex Smith, who is a stationary target with a calf injury. Even if the Bucs see backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke, Bowles should be aggressive and bring an extra pass rusher, whether it’s linebacker Kevin Minter or Lavonte David, or safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. For more on Tampa Bay’s playoff game at Washington, read my SR’s Fab 5 column where I list my 4 Match-ups To Watch.

Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Washington 20
Reynolds’ Season Record: 13-3

Mark Cook: Bucs Eek Out Win, Move On In Playoff Return

This game scares me. A lot. Maybe it’s because of Tampa Bay’s 2005 loss to Washington and the 2007 loss to the Giants in the playoffs that the Bucs were favored to win. Maybe it is the shell-shocked feeling I have from watching this team the last 12 seasons – well, really since 1977 – and seeing them have hiccup games at the worst possible time. But I have to keep telling myself this is a different team, and I need to expect a different outcome.

Bucs QB Tom Brady
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

The No. 1 key to winning this game will come down to how well Tampa Bay can protect quarterback Tom Brady. We can debate the Bucs’ secondary play, Todd Bowles’ scheme, how many play-action passes the team will run or Ron Rivera’s 2-0 record vs. Bruce Arians in the playoffs, but truthfully none of that matters. If the Buccaneers keep the pocket clean for Brady there isn’t a team Tampa Bay can’t beat – and that includes the Packers, Saints, Rams, Bills or Chiefs.

I don’t see a blowout for the Bucs. Instead, it will be a tighter, lower-scoring affair on Saturday night. The forecast is calling for cold temperatures in the low 30s getting down into the high 20s before the game ends. I am not sure how the field conditions will be, but with rain in Washington D.C. on Friday, and cold weather on Saturday, it may take the Bucs a quarter or so to get their footing – literally. But the better team wears pewter and red, and they also happen to have the better quarterback. That should be enough for the Bucs to escape move onto next week’s divisional round.

Cook’s Score Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Washington 19
Cook’s Season Record: 11-5

Jon Ledyard: Won’t Be Pretty, But Bucs Good Enough

The Bucs offense is about to get one of its stiffest tests of the season in a Washington Football team defense that can do two things that typically give Bruce Arians’ teams trouble: take away the big passing play and apply pressure to the quarterback. In the past, Arians hasn’t always been great at adjusting his offense and staying patient when teams are playing two-deep coverage and dropping off their corners, and he hasn’t always schemed in appropriate answers for pressure in the passing game.

Washington DE Chase Young
Washington DE Chase Young – Photo by: USA Today

But over the past month, the Bucs have improved dramatically in both of those areas, and Arians currently has the best quarterback he’s ever had in Tom Brady. With the veteran signal caller on an absolute tear over the last month and the Bucs utilizing more effective offensive methods like first down passing and play-action, it’ll be fascinating to see if they continue evolve against the best defense they’ve played since Los Angeles, or if they devolve back to their primitive and inconsistent early season form.

In the end, it really shouldn’t be the difference between winning and losing, not against Washington. The Football Team is banged up on offense and remarkably weak at quarterback whether an injured Alex Smith or an inexperienced Taylor Heinicke gets the start. Todd Bowles’ defense needs to have an aggressive, lock-down type of performance, crowding Washington’s shorter pass concepts and forcing them to complete big plays down the field – something the Football Team hasn’t done all season. If Bowles dials up a B-plus game plan and the Bucs don’t beat themselves with turnovers, blown coverages and penalties, Tampa Bay should be able to at least win an ugly one on Saturday night.
Ledyard’s Score Prediction: Buccaneers 22, Washington 13
Ledyard’s Season Record: 15-1

Matt Matera: It Won’t Be Easy, But Bucs Win And Advance

The Bucs are the favorite to win this game over the Washington Football team, but it won’t come easy as Washington is 5-1 when Alex Smith is their starting quarterback. Washington had the luxury of playing the NFC East, but if the Bucs think they can waltz into the game on Saturday night expecting to win, their season will be done earlier than you think.

Bucs WR Antonio Brown
Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

No offense has been more efficient than the Bucs over the last two games. Tom Brady has thrown for eight touchdowns in his last six quarters of football and has found some really great rhythm with his receivers in Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Even if Evans can’t go, they have plenty to work with on offense. The name of the game for the Bucs is stopping Washington’s pass rush. This may be the best front they’ve played all season with edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat, so it’s going to be all on the offensive line to keep Brady clean. 

Defensively, it’ll hurt that Devin White won’t be out there, but they are getting Shaq Barrett and Carlton Davis III back. The big thing here is the Bucs must play press-man coverage and force Alex Smith to hold onto the ball. Do that and Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul can get home, play soft zone and Smith will dink and dunk until they’re down the field. I think the Bucs will make the right choice.

Matera’s Score Prediction: Bucs 28, Washington 20
Matera’s Season Record: 12-4

Taylor Jenkins: Bucs Win In Postseason Return

Washington has relied heavily on its elite defense to scrap out wins this season, allowing just 20.6 points per game, good for the fourth-best mark in the league. Washington’s defense has performed so well by limiting big plays and creating pressure with a fierce front four built atop four former first-round picks and highlighted by edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Pressure up front has given Tampa Bay issues at times this season and with two veteran corners lining up behind Washington’s front seven, the Football Team has managed 47 sacks, the sixth-best mark in the league.

Washington RB Antonio Gibson
Washington RB Antonio Gibson – Photo by: USA Today

This could be a situation where the Bucs are forced to battle through another slow start, something that had become a trend for Tampa Bay throughout the season, but I just have to wonder whether Washington can keep up with the Bucs’ firepower even if they do struggle out of the gates. While Washington’s defense is fierce, its offense has been far from the same as the team has managed just over 20 points per game. This offense could be even more hampered if starting quarterback Alex Smith isn’t able to play the entire game, something that has been rumored by head coach Ron Rivera, and Washington has to turn to former undrafted free agent Taylor Heinicke.

Should Tampa Bay’s struggle to move the ball early it will be key for them to lean on Ronald Jones II to stay on schedule and keep the chains moving against Washington’s 14th-ranked rushing defense. Defensively, the Bucs will have to key in on Washington’s threats in the backfield, something that will be an even tougher test with the absence of Devin White. Running backs Antonio Gibson, Jr. and J.D. McKissic, in addition to tight end Logan Thomas, prove match-up problems that take advantage of something that the Bucs have struggled with, limiting the success of a short passing game. All-in-all, I think Tampa Bay’s offense is so strong that it will find a way to score points, some way, some how, and that the Bucs defense will hold up well enough against a meager Washington offense to give Tampa Bay its first postseason victory since winning the franchise’s lone Super Bowl in 2002.

Jenkins’ Score Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Washington 16
Jenkins’ Season Record: 12-4

Watch the Bucs vs. Falcons Preview Pewter Report Podcast below – and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel – PewterReportTV, where you can watch all of our live broadcasts.

Share On Socials

About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
Subscribe
Notify of
22 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ScottC543
19 days ago

AB takes a short pass on a long run to the house, and the defense gets a pick six.

Bucs win 28 – 13.

Please wait...
chefboho
19 days ago

I’m with Taylor on this one. Washington is incredibly beat up on an already poor offense and Washington hasn’t played an offense like this team all year. I call a easy victory 27-10 go Bucs!

Please wait...
AC25
19 days ago

No fans is a huge advantage for the bucs, Brady will get the ball out quick.
IMO Rojo will have the biggest impact on this game, as good as Washington pass rush is, they dont defend the run well!

Please wait...
Last edited 19 days ago by AC25
Buc76
19 days ago

It’s not an easy call. This team finds ways to lose because Arians and Leftwich won’t adapt. I like the short passing game to AB. He can score. That’s the type of stuff we need to do to win. Drop back and go deep will get Brady destroyed. He needs to get rid of the ball quick

Please wait...
Spitfire
Reply to  Buc76
19 days ago

Everyone keeps saying they don’t adapt and I know they could do better in that department but this team has had tons of games this year where they struggled in the first half and basically flipped the script in the second half. I just feel like despite playing the Lions and Falcons the last two games they are finally adjusting and firing on all cylinders from the get go. That is what’s so promising.

Please wait...
toofamiliar17
19 days ago

Most of these predictions would be a surprise to me if they played out these ways specifically. WAS has allowed more than 23 points once since week 5, and they’re facing an offense against which they match up pretty well. Their strength – namely rushing the passer – is our weak link, as we know that when Brady faces pressure (as he did against other strong pass rushing teams this season in NO twice and CHI), he’s downright bad. I still would pick us to win, but if we do, I expect a low-scoring, ugly game along the lines of… Read more »

Last edited 19 days ago by toofamiliar17
Dave
Reply to  toofamiliar17
19 days ago

Ok, well here’s who they played “since week 5” along with their records and offensive ranks. 6: NYG – 6-10( pts – 31. Yards- 31) 7: Dal – 6-10 ( pts- 17. Yards- 14) 9: NYG – 6-10( pts- 31. Yards- 31) 10: Det – 5-11(pts- 20. Yards- 20) 11: Cin – 4-11-1(pts- 29. Yards- 29) 12: Dal – 6-10( pts- 17. Yards- 14) 13: Pit – 12-4( pts- 12. Yards- 25) 14: SF – 6-10( pts- 21. Yards- 15) 15: Sea – 12-4( pts- 8. Yards- 17) 16: Car – 5-11( pts- 24. Yards- 21) 17: Phi – 4-11-1(… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Dave
19 days ago

Yea, that’s fair. They definitely haven’t faced a murderer’s row of offenses. Even still, they have the 3rd best defensive in the league by defensive DVOA, which specifically accounts for the quality of the opponent (that’s literally the entire point of DVOA). The Bucs played 6 games against teams in the top half of the league in defensive DVOA. In those games, here were Brady’s numbers: 165-269 (61.3% completions), 6.4 Y/A, 13 TDs, 9 INTs. Team went 2-5 in those games, with tone of those wins against what ended up being a 5-win Denver team. In those 7 games, the… Read more »

surferdudes
Reply to  toofamiliar17
19 days ago

How is our pass protection our weakness? Brady has only been sacked 22 times this year. He faced pressure twice and didn’t do well. That means he did well 14 out of 16 times. A lot of teams did bad against Chic, and N.O. pass rush. I’d say our O line, and pass pro has been very good this year.

Please wait...
toofamiliar17
Reply to  surferdudes
19 days ago

I’m not saying that we’re bad at protecting Brady. I said in my reply to Dave that if we can neutralize their pass rush, then I think we probably cruise to an easy victory. And we could do that. But we’ve only faced one pass rush better than Washington’s, and that was NO, who generated pressure at almost the same rate as WAS did. What I WAS saying is that if WAS can get pressure on Brady, then we’re likely to struggle to succeed on the offensive side of the ball. Because Brady is, as he has always been, a… Read more »

Spitfire
Reply to  toofamiliar17
19 days ago

A stiff pass rush doesn’t create problems, as does with any team, but against the Saints we were both starting from scratch and then not playing our starting line the second time. The Bears game we were still a mess as a team and the officials gave that game away. In any case, we have our starting 5 and our Offense is finally playing faster and game planning better. It should make for better results.

Please wait...
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Spitfire
19 days ago

I hope you’re right. For what it’s worth, I never bought into the narrative that the refs gave the Bears game away. Sure, we were on the losing end of a couple of tough calls, but at the end of the day, the Bears were trash, and we struggled all game to protect Brady and to move the ball consistently. If the game was able to be swung by a questionable call or two, that fact reflects the reality that we didn’t play well overall.

Please wait...
buddah
19 days ago

I don’t understand this fear of Washington. They lost to the Lions and the Panthers. They have a good defensive line. That’s it folks. I don’t see them scoring more than 17 points. Only way they stay in the game is if we turn the ball over. I’m looking for Ronald Jones to have a big game. Buccaneers have too much fire power for Washington. They will keep an extra blocker in the backfield and the GOAT will do the rest.
Tampa 30-13.

Please wait...
toofamiliar17
Reply to  buddah
19 days ago

I wouldn’t call what I have “fear” of WAS, so much as respect for what they do well. Their strengths are just a bad matchup for us. At the end of the day, all games come down to matchups. I still think we should win, but their defense is the real deal, IMO, and we’ve been really bad on offense when facing good defenses, particularly defenses who are good for the specific reasons they’re good, all season. The ONE consistent way to make Brady a bad quarterback throughout his entire career has been to pressure him. For our offense, this… Read more »

MWD
MWD
19 days ago

I have to say that I’m super stoked for this game- all I have seen thus far on all the talk shows is how we are on the “upset alert” list and how the antidote to beat Brady is bringing pressure which Washington has the ability to do. Washington better figure out a way to cover all of our weapons, Washington better be prepared to stop RoJo which they have been suspect all year defending the run game. Washington better figure out a way to be productive on offense which they have not shown at all this season. Again- if… Read more »

Last edited 19 days ago by MWD
76Buc
19 days ago

Everybody is going with the home team so I’ll go with the Redskins by 4 points.

Please wait...
Lawdy
19 days ago

JON LEDYARD BABY

Please wait...
Spitfire
19 days ago

Interesting that Washington is supposed to have such a great front 4 and Front 7 year are ranked 14th in rushing Defense. The Giants and Bears gave us trouble up front but we are basically completely healthy on Offense minus Evans and finally playing together. This won’t be easy for our Offense but it will be better than those games.

Please wait...
flashgordon
19 days ago

Bucs are gong to slaughter the Redskins – Marpet to Wirfs ill handle the Dt’s and Sweat, and Donovan Smith handles the rookie.
Antonio Brown and Godwin can make plays against these corners; they’re not that good. The linebackers can’t cover our Te’s.
If the Bucs can run the ball on these guys; it’s going to be insane.

Please wait...
scubog
19 days ago

The Washington Whatevers young defensive line is no doubt slobbering all over itself believing it’s going to be able to get to the GOAT and lead the team to a surprise upset victory. They’ll be hyped up and full of themselves to start the game. That’s why it will be so important from a mentality aspect, for the Bucs offensive line to stifle the initial onslaught and show them it’s not going to be easy.

Please wait...
Captain Sly
19 days ago

Seems most are cautiously optimistic about this team which is fair, However this game won’t be close… 1) It’s not a fluke that we’ve been scoring nearly 40pts a game since the bi week. Brady has totally taken over the play calling and he’s manipulating the los. 2) WFT is one of the weakest division winners in the history of the league. A super young inexperienced bunch with a broken down qb who can’t protect himself. I usually don’t care about what happens to the other team but I’m worried if their qb survives this game. 3) WFT have but… Read more »

surferdudes
Reply to  Captain Sly
19 days ago

It seems now Alex Smith won’t be starting. The 3rd string kid, who can run will be getting his 2nd start I think. This shouldn’t be close. Shut down their run, keep the rookie in the pocket, win game going away. Oh, and pray the Bears somehow beat N.O..

Please wait...