Dust off your jerseys or any of your other Dallas Cowboys apparel, football is back! The Cowboys 2022 season kickoff Sunday, September 11 in prime time against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is the second year in a row these two teams have squared off against one another in the season opener, but hopefully this time it’s Dallas who comes away with the victory.
Much like any other game throughout the season, certain matchups, whether it’s player against player or position against position, may hold more meaning as it pertains to victory or defeat when the final seconds tick off the clock. This week is no exception, which is why we will take a look at a few of the more important matchups for the Cowboys that could determine their fate in Week 1.
Cowboys’ OL vs. Buccaneers’ DL
When it comes to matchups to watch for the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all eyes should be zeroed in on what’s happening in the trenches. This is a game that is setting up to be one that will likely be won or lost depending on which team performs better in the trenches, the Cowboys offensive line or the Buccaneers defensive front?
For the Cowboys, the amount of unknown surrounding their starting five is a pretty big cause for concern. From left to right, the starters are expected to be Tyler Smith, Connor McGovern, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, and Terence Steele. With only Martin and Biadasz as the only holdovers at their position from last season, Dallas has three new starters (although Steele has lots of experience starting in the past) who will be asked to protect Dak Prescott from a talented Buccaneers defensive line.
The Buccaneers DTs Vita Vea and Akeim Hicks will be a handful for the Cowboys interior OL to handle, as will OLB Shaquil Barrett and Joe Tryon off the edges for Tyler Smith and Terence Steele. Whether it’s the Cowboys OL or the Buccaneers DL, whoever ends up getting the better of each other throughout the game in the season opener will probably weigh heavily on the outcome of the game.
Cowboys’ DBs vs. Buccaneers’ WRs
Trevon Diggs and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys secondary will be tested from the get-go in the 2022 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On paper, Tom Brady may have the best receiving corps at his disposal in the entire NFL. From the top of the depth chart, to the bottom, Tampa Bay is absolutely stacked at receiver this year and that could prove to be problematic for Dallas’ defensive backs.
In Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Chris Godwin (if he plays), and Russell Gage, Trevon Diggs and Company will have to shake off any offseason rust early in order to limit the success TB12 has in the passing game. As things stand right now, that could be made even more difficult considering Jourdan Lewis’ status for Week 1 is questionable due to the hamstring injury he’s still dealing with.
Regardless if the Cowboys secondary is at full strength or not, this head-to-head matchup with the Buccaneers wide receivers is one to keep an eye on. If Trevon Diggs and Company can keep these WRs out of the end zone and limit the big plays, Dallas has a better shot of escaping the season opener with the victory. If not, Tampa Bay could once again get the better of the Cowboys to kick off the NFL season.
KaVontae Turpin vs. P Jake Camarda
If we learned anything from the Dallas Cowboys preseason, it’s KaVontae Turpin is going to be a dangerous, possibly game-changing, type of weapon as a kick and punt returner, as well as wide receiver/gadget player in 2022. This is the type of player the Cowboys haven’t had at their disposal in over a decade, and one who can alter the course of the game just about anytime he touches the ball.
Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be the perfect opportunity for Turpin to prove his worth as a special teams weapon, particularly as a punt returner. Yes, he returned a kickoff and punt for the Cowboys in the same game in the preseason, but as of yet, hasn’t done it under the bright lights when these games actually matter. He will have that chance Sunday night against the Buccaneers rookie punter Jake Camarda.
As a rookie, Jake Camarda is the most likely candidate to allow KaVontae Turpin the opportunity to break free. Unlike Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay’s kicker, Camarda can’t just kick it out of the back of the end zone when he punts. He can kick away from Turpin or kick it out of bounds, but if he does give No. 9 a chance, there is a very good possibility the Cowboys return specialist makes him pay for his mistake.