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Buccaneers vs. Cowboys: Preview, Takes, and Predictions
In the charismatic words of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson:
Finally, the NFL season is back.
Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay will be bursting with noise tonight, as the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys to kick off the 2021 NFL season.
Tonight’s game will feature numerous key storylines on both sides, from the comeback of Cowboys’ star quarterback Dak Prescott, to 44-year-old Tom Brady starting his 300th career regular-season game as he enters his 22nd season in the NFL.
Two of the league’s best wide receiver trios will be on full display tonight, with the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown looking to top the Cowboys’ trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. If you’re an active fantasy football player, there’s a good chance you have some stakes in tonight’s matchup.
Both of these offenses are rich with playmakers at several positions, so we should expect to see plenty of points scored tonight.
Can the Cowboys pull out the upset and beat the reigning Super Bowl champions?
Dallas can win if...
Ezekiel Elliott runs effectively throughout the game. Dallas needs a consistent ground game to help lift the pressure off Prescott; and also keep him away from Tampa Bay’s tenacious pass rush. The Cowboys will be without their best offensive lineman (Zack Martin), due to Covid-19, which isn’t ideal.
The Cowboys defense will feature several new players expected to make an impact in year one. Most notably, linebacker Micah Parsons, who Dallas selected 12th overall in the 2021 NFL draft.
While this defense has the potential to be better than they were last season, I’m still not expecting much.
If Prescott can get comfortable quickly, and lead long touchdown drives early on, the Cowboys have a shot in this one. And if they do manage to pull out a win tonight, it will almost certainly be because of their performance on offense.
Tampa Bay can win if…
Their defense contains the Cowboys’ offensive playmakers. As mentioned earlier, I’m not too concerned about this Cowboys defense making any sort of noise against this Tom Brady-led Buccaneers offense. I fully expect Tampa Bay to put up points in this game. But will their defense do enough to slow down Ezekiel Elliott and Prescott’s dangerous trio of wide receivers?
That’s a key matchup I’ll be watching thoroughly.
Tampa Bay’s defensive front is dominant at stuffing the run. If they’re able to completely remove Elliott and the Cowboys ground game, look out.
This Tampa Bay defense will be tested tonight, and if they create stops early in the game – the momentum and game script could significantly swing in the Bucs direction.
Both offenses could find success tonight, and a high-scoring affair is definitely on the table. But I see Tampa Bay having multiple ways of winning tonight’s game, while Dallas is dependent on a specific formula for victory.
The Draft Scout Predictions:
Buccaneers 34, Cowboys 24
Buccaneers 42, Cowboys 30
Buccaneers 34, Cowboys 27