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Thursday Night Football Preview: Cowboys @ Bucs

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The NFL kicks off its 2021 regular season tonight with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (eatwatchbet.com). The Bucs are currently an eight-point favorite at most online sportsbooks. Today, we’ll break down each team’s offense and defense to see who has the edge in this matchup.

Tampa Bay Offense vs. Dallas Defense

They say that Father Time is undefeated but Tom Brady looks to be the exception to this rule. The 44-year old is closing in on several NFL records and shows no signs of slowing down. Brady will have all of his old weapons back this season so 2021 could be another banner year for The GOAT!

Chris Godwin is listed as questionable for tonight’s game with a quad injury. However, most folks expect him to play. Even if Godwin can’t go, Brady still has Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and OJ Howard to terrorize the Dallas defense.

The Bucs aren’t a one-dimensional offense either, as Ronald Jones can make huge plays in the running game. The former USC star had his best season as a pro in 2020 by rushing for 978 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Cowboys’ defense was flat-out awful last season as they allowed 29.6 points per game (28th in the NFL). Jerry Jones tried to address these defensive woes by spending seven draft picks on defensive players. Guys like Micah Parsons and Osa Odighizuwa will contribute immediately but the Bucs still should find plenty of success tonight in their home opener.

Cowboys Offense vs. Bucs Defense

What a strange preseason for this Dallas offense! Dak Prescott suffered a strained shoulder and didn’t take a single snap the entire preseason. The word out of Cowboys camp is that Prescott is ready to go but lots of fans are worried and skeptical.

Expect Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to call several short passes for Prescott in the early going of the game to help him get comfortable. Running back Ezekiel Elliott appears to be in the best shape of his career after following a rigorous offseason training program. The bad news for Zeke is that superstar right guard Zack Martin will miss this game due to COVID-19. 

The Bucs are loaded on the defensive side of the football. Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are tremendous pass rushers that can make Prescott’s life miserable. Tampa Bay also has arguably the best linebacking corps in the league with guys like Devin White, Shaq Barrett, and Lavonte David forming a terrific trio.

Tampa’s secondary is sometimes susceptible to the deep ball so Prescott may have some success with some deep posts to Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. Antoine Winfield Jr. is a decent strong safety but the rest of the Bucs’ defensive backs can be picked on from time to time.

The Pick: Tampa Bay-8

This game should be close for a while but Tampa’s pass rush should be able to disrupt Prescott’s timing. The Cowboys will be much improved this season but they aren’t ready to take down the defending champs on their home turf!

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