The Cowboys have to survive one more week without Tony Romo. Can they pull out at least one win playing with their backup quarterback? Sunday's game might be their last chance for that, assuming Romo comes back as expected.
The Buccaneers are just slight 1.5-point favorites for Sunday's game. The Vegas oddsmakers generally start with a base 3-point advantage for home teams in the NFL, so the current odds would suggest that the Cowboys would be very slight favorites on a neutral field. Most of the expert opinions we look at below agree, the opinions are pretty evenly split between the Cowboys and Buccaneers.
Here's what some prominent pigskin pundits predict for the game:
|Name (Cowboys Accuracy)
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com (6-2)
||Dallas finally gets to add one to the "W" column this week. You sense Matt Cassel getting more comfortable in the Cowboys' offense -- yes, he gave up a huge pick-six in last week's loss to the Eagles, but the offense was able to move on the Philly defense. This game is the season for this organization; even in the cruddy NFC East, falling to 2-7 would be too tall a Stetson hat to climb.|
Sam Farmer, LA Times (6-2)
||The Buccaneers are playing better, and Jameis Winston is putting together an impressive rookie season. The Cowboys haven’t won without Tony Romo, and it doesn’t look like that will change.|
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (6-2)
||This is an enormous game for the Cowboys. They get Tony Romo back next week, but they are in big-time need of a victory without him. Matt Cassel was better last week, and I think that will carry over here. The Cowboys pass rush gets after Jameis Winston.|
Michael Smith, Pro Football Talk (6-2)
||The Buccaneers are starting to come around as a reasonably good team, with Jameis Winston avoiding turnovers (no interceptions in the last four games), and Lovie Smith’s defense rounding into shape. If Tony Romo were playing I’d pick the Cowboys, but with Matt Cassel at the helm I think the Bucs can take this one.|
David Steele, Sporting News (6-2)
||The Cowboys can no longer look at games like this as "winnable" since they're capable right now of losing to anybody, anywhere for any reason. The Bucs are getting to be a handful; Jameis Winston continued his strong recent run in last week's loss to the Giants, and if his receivers could actually catch, the Cowboy' defense would be in deep trouble.|
Greg Cote, Miami Herald (4-4)
||Dallas is 0-6 sans Tony Romo — who should be back next week vs. Miami — and now here comes a new nadir for Jerry Jones’ Cowboys: Being underdogs (albeit slight ones) to Tampa Bay. Oh, the indignity! Bucs have a chance when Jameis Winston protects the ball, which he has done lately. But I like Dallas here. ’Boys have been close in five of six L’s. They’re due a bounce, a break.|
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk (4-4)
||The Cowboys will play their seventh and final (for now) game without Tony Romo. And they’ll lose their seventh and final (for now) game without Romo. The Bucs are better than advertised, and a win over a team like the Cowboys is just what Lovie Smith’s still-rebuilding team needs.|
Peter Schrager, Foxsports (3-5)
||Lost in all the Greg Hardy dissection over the past few weeks is the fine work Dallas rookie Byron Jones is doing on defense. A first-round pick with incredible athletic abilities (NFL Draft Scouting Combine record in the broad jump), Jones has also shown to be a versatile and heady player, capable of covering the opposing team's top tight ends and underneath weapons. He's still not having the season Tampa Bay's defensive rookie -- Kwon Alexander -- is. With Philly's Jordan Hicks out for the year, these two are up there as my top defensive rookies this season. Watch them in this one.|
The table below summarizes a couple of other pick 'em panels, but their predictions don't get any better than what we saw above.
|NFL Around The League||3
|Dallas Morning News||6
In the battle of a 2-6 and a 3-5 team, the outcome is anybody's guess.
is this the game the Cowboys finally break their losing streak?