The Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had similar offseasons that were anything but smooth. The Cowboys lost some starters and are struggling to replace them on the offensive line, and have an important wide reciever coming off injury. Same for the Bucs. Both teams are a little unsure of how their offenses will perform, but both are relying on quality defenses to hold things together.
Even when it comes to predicting their game, there is a split that represents this mirror approach of the two teams. Here are four predictions (ATS) for the game and they are down the middle.
Neither Tom Brady’s recent absence from training camp due to personal issues or his age (45) have been enough to shake sports books’ faith in Tampa Bay. Most have the team as their second favorite to win the Super Bowl
They face another Las Vegas darling in the Cowboys, which were the best team against the spread last season. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal, from a dual backfield of Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard to the newly promoted No. 1 receiver CeeDee Lamb. Prescott will need every option against the Bucs’ defense, which led the N.F.L. in blitzes last year. Pick: Cowboys +2.5
It’s doubtful there’s been a team more “sold” by the general public over the last few weeks than the Cowboys. It’s primarily because of the Tyron Smith injury — Dallas is expected to be without its superstar left tackle until at least December. Dak Prescott’s struggled in the past without Smith on the field and it’s not unreasonable to wonder if it causes long-term issues with the offense. Short-term it’s a problem too, but the Cowboys got enough time to prep for this Week 1 game that I think they can surprise a Bucs team dealing with its own litany of injuries on the offensive line. Dan Quinn will likely use Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence in multiple spots on the field, including the interior, to take advantage of the Bucs injuries and possible pressure on Tom Brady. It’s probably best to wait for kickoff to grab the Cowboys, hoping it gets to +3.
The Pick: Cowboys 31, Buccaneers 27
Bets: Cowboys +2.5
The Bucs had a weird summer. Tom Brady disappeared from training camp for 11 days, and they lost Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen to a knee injury. But there’s still a lot to like about this team. Brady is still capable of playing at a high level and helping his offensive line out. They have plenty of weapons. And the defense could be a lot better than last season if the corners stay healthy.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, have easily the best quarterback in the NFC East, yet it’s hard to find anyone who believes they are serious contenders for a deep playoff run. They traded away wide receiver Amari Cooper and lost left tackle Tyron Smith to injury. The Cowboys last season benefited more from turnovers than any other defense in the past five years. That’s unlikely to repeat.
Aside from CeeDee Lamb, Dak Prescott’s just not going to have a lot of options unless a surprise pass catcher emerges. The Bucs’ secondary gives them an edge here.
The pick: Bucs (-2.5)
The Buccaneers have taken big hits on the interior offensive line and are adjusting to a passing game minus Rob Gronkowski. But they still have and un-retired Tom Brady and a reloaded, remixed group of weapons plus top-flight tackles.
Tampa Bay’s loaded and healthy defense to make the biggest impact. The Bucs will be better at stopping the run and pressuring the QB vs. Dak Prescott while the Cowboys’ big-play-dependent defense gets limited results vs. Brady.
Pick: Buccaneers win 31-23 and cover the spread.
Not only have opinions from around the internet split on who to take in this game, so have the BTB staff. In our weekly Tallysight picks using Draftkings odds, we have a 3-3 split for the Cowboys and the Bucs. We’ve included all the staff picks for Week 1 below.
So BTB, who ya got on Sunday night. Cowboys or Bucs?