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Peter King thinks the 2021 NFL season opener will be either the Bills or Cowboys at Tampa Bay

Do you want to see the Cowboys play the defending champs in Week 1?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Schedule is going to be released this Wednesday and while we already know who the Dallas Cowboys are going to be playing this season, many fans are anxious to know when the team is going to be doing so.

Dallas has some difficult road games this season as they have to travel to Kansas City, New Orleans, New England, and to see the Los Angeles Chargers among places. Notably, the Cowboys will also play on the road where last season’s Super Bowl took place which means they will face the reigning world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Generally speaking, tradition has seen the reigning Super Bowl champions host the following season’s opening game on the first Thursday night of the season. This has been amended a few times and most recently was two years ago when the New England Patriots actually raised their banner on the first Sunday night of the year as opposed to Thursday, although some of that was due to the league kicking off its 100th season where they scheduled two of the older teams, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, to face off against one another in the Thursday slot. There was talk then that reigning champions might stick to the Sunday spot moving forward, but last year the Kansas City Chiefs raised their banner on Thursday night like most years before them.

The Dallas Cowboys are clearly in the running to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on opening night

With the schedule release this Wednesday many people are ready to see when Dallas will play this season and as some people like to try and guess things, it stands to reason that they could be the Buccaneers’ Week 1 opponent when Tom Brady watches his seventh banner hoisted up.

Peter King predicted in his Football Morning in America column that the Bucs’ season-opener, on Thursday, September 9th, 2021, will be against either the Buffalo Bills or the Dallas Cowboys. That sure would be something.

Tampa Bay gets to open at home on Thursday, Sept. 9, with the 2020 champs beginning 2021 with basically the exact same roster. My prediction: The foe will be either Buffalo or Dallas. Why do I say that? The NFL wants to get off to a very strong start after a shaky offseason, and they want a game that will generate buzz in the weeks before the season begins and will be must-see TV to start the season. To schedule the Saints or Bears or Giants here (all Bucs home foes this year) doesn’t seem smart because any of them could be a game that’s over by halftime. Not so Buffalo or Dallas. The Bills could go to Tampa and win the opener, and the Cowboys, with Dak Prescott leading an explosive offense, would be able to go toe-to-toe with the Arians/Brady offense. We’ll see, but those are the two sexiest home foes for the Bucs, and I think one of them will open the NFL’s 102nd season.

Both of these games make a lot of sense as main courses for the league to serve up to kick off the year for obvious reasons. The Cowboys are the Cowboys and we’ll get to that in a minute, but the Buffalo Bills were one of the best stories in the league last year as they finally broke through multiple barriers in a year when they made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Many Patriots fans felt that a lot of Buffalo’s success was a result of not having to go through Tom Brady within the AFC East anymore; what better way to settle that score than right off the bat in a game that almost was the Super Bowl that took place on the very same field in February?

Talking about the Cowboys though, well, they are America’s Team. Putting the Cowboys anywhere is generally ratings gold although to be fair we are talking about a Cowboys team that was flexed out of Sunday Night Football late last season which takes place on the very same network (NBC) as the season opener does. A lot of those variables will have changed, notably Dak Prescott being under center, and with a big-time contract to his name to boot, but it is still worth saying.

Dallas has played in the season opener before as they visited the New York Giants in Week 1 of the 2012 season when Eli Manning and Co. celebrated their Super Bowl XLVI title. Incidentally this game was played on a Wednesday as opposed to a Thursday as the league adjusted in light of a political convention. It was the Kevin Ogletree game if you want to feel nostalgic.

The Cowboys have also had some relatively high-profile games against the Buccaneers in recent memory if you think that is worth anything:

  • 2011 during a Saturday night game (shout out Laurent Robinson)
  • 2016 on Sunday Night Football, this game was actually flexed into as the Bucs were on the verge of making the playoffs (they would not go on to do so)
  • 2018 on a Sunday afternoon when the Cowboys won the NFC East one week after getting blasted by the Indianapolis Colts

Times are very different for the Buccaneers as the Tom Brady experience is quite the successful one. Ultimately the Cowboys will have to visit them at some point this season, whether or not it takes place during Week 1 is something we will know shortly.

For what it’s worth, the Cowboys already play two Thursday games a year as far as most seasons are concerned. They obviously play on Thanksgiving every year, but for the most part the league has scheduled them to play on the following Thursday (exactly seven days later) as well, although last year that game (against the Baltimore Ravens) got delayed by six days as a result of postponements due to Covid-19. Dallas did not have a second Thursday game after Thanksgiving in 2012 when they played in the season opener so perhaps the league would cut it if they put Dallas in that slot this year. Giving them the opener and a Thursday game after Thanksgiving would give them two min-byes on top of their actual bye which might upset other teams.


Do you think the Cowboys will visit the Buccaneers in Week 1?

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