Dallas Cowboys At Tampa Bay Bucs:
- Thursday, Sept. 9: 8:20 p.m. ET
As usual, the talk coming out of Dallas is primarily positive—as it should be. After a dismal, injury-ravaged 2020 season, the offense heads into 2021 relatively healthy. The offensive line is intact, Ezekiel Elliot is looking to reassert himself, Dak Prescott is back, and the wide receiver room is as talented as they come.
Assuming the offense can pick up where it left off when Dak Prescott went down last season, the Buccaneers defense will have its hands full. If they try to double cover someone, that means the other two guys will have single coverage.
However, the offensive line will have to earn its keep against a defense that allowed a league-low 80.6 yards a game in 2020. Ezekiel Elliot has talked about wanting to redeem himself after a down year last season; a good showing against the Buccaneers defense would go a long way towards that goal.
The issue in Dallas is once again the defense. All the talk coming out of camp has been positive. Everyone seems to love new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and raves about the impact he has had. But until we see them play, it is nothing but talk and empty promises.
It would be easier to believe if the team had made more of an effort to upgrade the personnel. Other than a couple of guys they acquired in the draft, the Cowboys did not do much.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
To be the best, you must beat the best. As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the best. With the roster they have returning and the depth they added in the draft, teams will have a hard time knocking them off their pedestal.
The ageless wonder, Tom Brady, has shown no signs of slowing down. With an excellent offensive line and some of the best wide receivers in the NFL, chances are he will not be slowing down this year. After having a whole offseason and training camp to work together, unlike last year, it would not be shocking to see the Buccaneers offense get off to a fast start.
On the defensive side of the ball, having a healthy Vita Vea in the lineup could make the run defense even more formidable than it was last season. As long as no one takes a step backward this season, the Buccaneers defense will be even more challenging this year than last.
However, the unit will be in for a pretty tough test when they face Dak Prescott and the Dallas passing game in Week One.
With everyone relatively healthy, the Dallas offense is tough to contain. But the Rams defense was able to contain it in Week One last season. While the Buccaneers defense is one of the better units in the league, it is not quite in the same category as the Rams defense.
The Buccaneers defense will be good enough to slow Prescott and the passing game down, to a degree. However, it is hard to say whether the Dallas defense can return the favor when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense is on the field. We have heard about how good the Dallas defense will be this year. But we have seen nothing to make us think it will be different from last season.
The public had been backing the Buccaneers convincingly, with about 70 percent of the handle and money placed on Tampa Bay. But a lot of Cowboys supporters must have surfaced with how the numbers have shifted. The percentage of bets is now 60/40, but the percentage of money is now 56/44.
So—how should you bet?
It all depends on how much of a difference you think Dan Quinn has made with the Dallas defense. If you believe the hype, take Dallas against the spread (but not via the moneyline). Otherwise, go with the Buccaneers via the spread or moneyline.