Let’s see: Tom Brady and his six Super Bowl rings versus a 7-9 division winner. Need we say more?
Washington’s NFC East triumph is nothing to scoff at despite the losing record. A franchise in turmoil because of off-field issues that released the supposed building block at quarterback late in the season has been somewhat revitalized by the work of coach Ron Rivera. The defense is aggressive and anchored by rookie Chase Young, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft. The starting QB, Alex Smith, has been as inspirational as any NFL player, capping a comeback from a severe injury that almost cost him a leg.
“You talk about a proven winner, he’s the epitome of that,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson says of Smith. “What he’s overcome in his career on and off the football field and what he’s come through and to see him out there playing now, I’ve been so happy for him.”
It’s downright uplifting.
Still, it’s pretty much a mismatch.
Brady has shown yet again how overwhelmingly responsible he was for all those championships in New England. His Buccaneers had not sailed into the postseason since 2007. He has been in his usual January form for a month — rare form, indeed, for a 43-year-old quarterback.
And there’s more. Brady has more weapons in support on offense than since that same 2007 season with the Patriots. Tampa Bay’s defense is solid enough and could give Smith more fits than Washington’s impressive rush gives Brady.
Tampa Bay, No. 8 in the AP Pro32′s final season rankings, is an 8-point favorite over No. 16 Washington. And for those still involved in knockout pools, we’d advise taking the Bucs.