Someone had to win the NFC East this year, and it’s actually quite a story that it was the Washington Football Team that came out on top in the end. However, their reward for winning the division is a home NFL Wild Card game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s been a bumpy road for most of the year in Tampa, but the Buccaneers have looked over the last few weeks like the team we expected them to be all season. It won’t be easy for Brady on the road, but I expect he’ll get it done against this Washington team. Football Team vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds It took much longer than many people anticipated, but Tampa Bay’s offense seems to be clicking on every level over the last four weeks. The Buccaneers are averaging 37 points per game during this four-game winning streak and have scored more than 40 in consecutive weeks. They also played four teams with losing records, which actually makes up a good chunk of their 11-5 record. Tampa Bay went 1-5 against playoff teams this season and went 9-0 against teams with losing records (Las Vegas finished 8-8). The Buccaneers were 0-5 when they scored 24 points or less and 11-0 when scoring 25 points or more. It isn’t hard to see Tampa Bay’s road to success this season, it’s first with Brady at the helm, and it’s why I don’t take much from the last four weeks. It will be interesting to see how Brady plays without Mike Evans, who has missed Tuesday and Wednesday practice after hyperextending his knee in Week 17. Evans is questionable with that knee injury, but he clearly won’t be 100 percent if he does suit up. On the other side of the ball, Tampa Bay benefitted from a softer schedule down the stretch because the last three playoff teams the Buccaneers faced all put up more than 400 yards of total offense, and the Rams and Chiefs both threw for at least 376 yards against Tampa Bay. Washington isn’t that explosive on offense, but it’s probably better than some of the offenses the Buccaneers faced down the stretch. I can concede that Washington had the benefit of playing in the weak NFC East, so some of their statistics are skewed. But the Football Team won its last five games with Alex Smith as the starting quarterback, and the veteran will again lead Washington into battle this weekend. You know what you are getting in Smith, who has completed two-thirds of his passes this season. He’s thrown eight interceptions and just six touchdowns, and he’s relied on the strong running game to help him. But he’s shown himself capable of being a strong passer when he threw for 325 and 390 yards in consecutive weeks. That will be an important skill to have against this Tampa Bay defense, that excels in stopping the run and struggles against the pass. Receivers like Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas will be vital to the team’s offensive success. However, Washington’s best hope of winning is with a defense that has held seven straight opponents to 20 points or fewer. That unit ranks fourth in scoring defense and second in yards allowed, and has forced a turnovers in each of the last seven games, including five with multiple takeaways. Washington also had 47 sacks this year, the sixth-most in the league and finished fourth with sacks on 8.2 percent of all dropbacks. I have to give credit to the online sports betting sites in New Jersey for hitting the over/under on this game. The number was set at 44.5 points, which is perfectly aligned with how I expect this game to go from both sides. Tampa Bay played five games against the top-10 scoring defenses in the league and averaged just 19.8 points per game. When Chicago’s defense was playing well early in the season, Tampa Bay scored just 19 points against the Bears on the road. The Buccaneers like most teams are more comfortable at home and like most teams they look better against poor defenses. This game with Washington provides neither of them, but it does pit Tampa Bay against a struggling run-centric offense. It won’t be a pretty game because I don’t expect there to be many points between the two sides. I’ll just settle on the under 44.5 points at -105 odds to stay safe with the point totals. Buccaneers to win The rationale for the NFL wild card lines on this game from the football betting sites in New Jersey make sense. It’s Brady. Tampa Bay has looked great recently. Washington finished 7-9. The offense isn’t very good. The reasons why Tampa Bay is a 7.5-point favorite are there, but Washington had the second-best total defense and fourth-best scoring defense in the league this season. Brady and the Buccaneers have struggled with good defenses this season, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Washington has a pass rush that can make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket and a secondary that can cover the Buccaneers’ receivers. Tampa Bay will win this game, but it will be a tight one. I’m betting on the Buccaneers to win by six points or fewer at +380 odds.