Bruce Arians-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers sealed a spot in this year’s playoffs with a majestic win over 44-27 win over NFC South opponents, Atlanta Falcons, in Week 17. They secured the NFC fifth seed spot. In doing so, Tom Brady and Co. set up a tie against NFC East winners, Washington Football Team.
Ron Rivera’s boys ensured a spot in the playoffs with a narrow 14-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. There was major controversy involved in that game. Philly coach Doug Pederson was criticised for ‘throwing away’ the game after benching rookie Jalen Hurts in the second half. But what went largely unnoticed was the performance of veteran quarterback Alex Smith.
Since making a return to the NFL in 2020, QB Alex Smith has been used sparingly by Washington. Coach Rivera started the season with Dwayne Haskins as first-choice and Keenan Allen as a backup. Smith was third on the QB depth chart in the American capital. But he is expected to start on Sunday night at FedEx Field.
The Washington-based franchise will welcome a motivated Buccaneers outfit in the Wild Card Playoff round. But experienced NFL coach Bruce Arians is well aware of the threat posed by Alex Smith.
“We’re not playing a 7-9 team. We’re playing a 4-1 team. When Alex Smith plays they’re a 4-1 team. We’re not playing Dwayne Haskins. We’re playing Alex Smith,” Arians told ESPN.
Despite finishing the season with a 7-9 record, Washington have looked solid when Smith is on the field. The exit of Dwayne Haskins proves that Rivera is a no-nonsense coach. He will place his faith on former number one pick, Alex Smith, on the weekend.
With a defense led by pumped-up rookie Chase Young, Tom Brady’s Buccaneers have a game on their hands in January. Can they live up to expectations or do we have another upset on the cards?