After months of anticipation, the new football season is about to begin and it kicks off with a Thursday Night NFL clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 2020 NFL season treated both of these teams differently. For the Cowboys, things looked promising at the start. Their offense had the potential to be one of the best in the NFL until quarterback Dak Prescott went down in Week 5 with a gruesome ankle injury. This injury caused Dallas to take a huge step back as the team finished with a 5-11 record. Now, Prescott’s had a lot of time to heal since then and Thursday night’s game will be his first test in a meaningful game.
On the other hand, the Buccaneers were on the other side of the spectrum of success last year. Veteran QB Tom Brady led his new team to a Super Bowl victory in his first season outside of New England, further cementing his legacy. The 44-year-old is showing little to no signs of age catching up to him, so expect the Buccaneers to be contenders throughout the 2021 NFL season.
Here’s a look at everything you need to know as the Dallas Cowboys are set to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Thursday.
Thursday Night Football Week 1 General Information
- Date: Thursday, September 9, 2021
- Time: 8:20 p.m. EST
- Location: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
- Where to Watch: NBC, DAZN
Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Betting Odds
Odds via BetOnline as of Wednesday, September 8
- Dallas Cowboys (0-0) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
- Moneyline: Cowboys (+315) vs Buccaneers (-385)
- Spread: Cowboys — +9.5 (-125), Buccaneers — -9.5 (+105)
- Total: 52.0 — Over (-110), Under (-110)
Dallas Cowboys Looking to Pull Off Upset
The Dallas Cowboys will enter Raymond James Stadium this week as the +315 underdogs, according to BetOnline. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the Buccaneers are the defending Super Bowl champions and brought back most of last year’s roster. That doesn’t mean that the Cowboys can’t make things interesting on Thursday, though.
As mentioned earlier, it looked like the Cowboys were going to have one of the best offenses last season prior to Prescott’s injury. The veteran gunslinger was averaging 371.2 passing yards per game through the five contests he played in. That number likely isn’t sustainable across a 17-game season, however, Dallas would surely appreciate it if he could get at least close to those numbers again to start the year.
Prescott will be joined by a trio in pass-catching threats in the form of CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Each of those three wideouts had at least 800 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year and that was without their real starting quarterback. Now that Prescott is back, it’ll be interesting to see how they can perform against a Buccaneers defense that surrendered 249.1 passing yards per game in 2020 — the 12th-highest average in the NFL.
Sixth-year running back Ezekiel Elliott should also be a factor, but the Buccaneers only gave up 82.7 rushing yards per game last year (1st), so don’t expect a monstrous game from him on Thursday. If the Dallas Cowboys want to win, the game will likely need to be an aerial shootout. Things could be tough, though, as Zack Martin — one of the best offensive guards in the league — tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, so he could be forced to miss the game.
Buccaneers Week 1 Odds
On the other hand, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are -385 betting favorites over the Dallas Cowboys. The Buccaneers owned one of the NFL’s best offenses last year, averaging 30.8 points per game (2nd). A big part of that was the fact that they also averaged 282.5 passing yards (3rd), which helps when you have the wideout trio of Mike Evans, Chris Goodwin and Antonio Brown on your roster. All three of them will be back for another year, as will tight end Rob Gronkowski and slot receiver Scotty Miller.
Funny enough, the Cowboys were actually solid against the pass last year. They gave up 227.6 passing yards per game, which ranked 11th-best. In other words, Tampa Bay’s best bet may be to attack Dallas on the ground after the Cowboys gave up the most rushing yards in 2020. The Buccaneers will have veterans Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones leading their backfield, so expect them to get a lot of work whether that’s early on or to run out the clock later in the game.
All in all, the Buccaneers should walk out as the winners of the game, however, that doesn’t mean it won’t be closer than the odds indicate. Both teams are capable of some high-scoring offense when everything is clicking and it would only be appropriate that the first game of the 2021 NFL season becomes a shootout.