Cowboys vs. Buccaneers: TNF betting odds, preview, and pick

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September 6th, 2021

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will usher in the official start of the 2021 NFL season when they host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium.

Fri, September 10 2021, 12:20 AM

TB Buccaneers






O 51.5

DAL Cowboys






U 51.5

Cowboys press forward with Dak

The 2020 season was a lost one for Dallas, who played the majority of their schedule with Andy Dalton at the helm of the offense. Franchise QB Dak Prescott dislocated his ankle in a Week 5 matchup and underwent season-ending surgery on the same day.

The 2016 Rookie of the Year is cleared to play the season opener, but he’ll be working through another ailment on Thursday.

During training camp, Prescott strained his right shoulder (his throwing arm) and has been mostly limited in practice leading up to Week 1.

Not only will Prescott be determined to prove himself in his return from injury — especially after he signed a four-year, $160 million contract extension in March — but second-year head coach Mike McCarthy will be eager to cool down his hot seat.

In McCarthy's first season, the Cowboys finished 6-10, good for third in the NFC East, and fielded an abysmal defense, which surrendered 29.6 points (fifth worst in the league) and 158.8 yards per game on the ground (second worst).

The front office focused on the unit in the offseason. Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons was their biggest snag of the draft and was one of six defensive players selected by Dallas in the second through fourth rounds.

Former Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn was also hired as defensive coordinator.

Buccaneers may be more dangerous than last season

The Buccaneers head into this matchup with far less uncertainty. One of the NFL's biggest offseason headlines centered on Tampa Bay's ability to re-sign all 22 starters from last year's Super Bowl-winning roster. No franchise had previously accomplished that in the salary-cap era.

Another surprise headline from the offseason involved Brady, who will enter his 22nd NFL season at age 44. The seven-time Super Bowl champion managed to win his latest ring while secretly playing the entire season with a torn MCL.

In February, he underwent surgery to repair the ligament in his leg.

Heading into the 2021 NFL season, Tampa Bay is the second choice (+650) to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, behind 2019 champion Kansas City, and is projected to win at least 12 games this year.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers injury report

Dallas CowboysTampa Bay Buccaneers
OT Brandon Knight: Out (reserve/COVID-19 list)
S Jordan Whitehead: Questionable (hamstring)
G Zack Martin: Out (reserve/COVID-19 list)
RB Giovani Bernard: Questionable (ankle)
OT La'el Collins: Questionable (neck)
LB Cam Gill: Out (undisclosed)
WR Malik Turner: Out (foot)
G John Molchon: Out (leg)
S Donovan Wilson: Questionable (groin)
WR Scotty Miller: Questionable (elbow)

Cowboys and Buccaneers betting trends

  • The Cowboys are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games vs. NFC opponents
  • The Buccaneers are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games
  • The Over is 4-0 in the Cowboys' last four games as an underdog
  • The Over is 7-3 in the Buccaneers' last 10 Thursday games
  • Tom Brady is 5-0 SU against Dallas for his career

Cowboys will stumble behind young defense

With Prescott back in the lineup, the Cowboys are a +150 favorite to win the NFC East and a +1500 longshot to reach the NFC Championship Game. 

In 2019, the offense ranked first in the league in yards per contest (431.5), second in passing (296.9 yards per game), and fifth in rushing (137.5 YPG). The team should trend toward that production as the 2021 season progresses, but too much is stacked against it in Week 1.

Six-time Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin will miss the game because of COVID-19, while right tackle La'el Collins could be sidelined with a neck stinger.

Those injury issues will hamper Dallas' ability to charge out of the gate against Tampa Bay's sturdy front seven.

As for Dallas' defense, the young unit will face a steep test against one of the league's best passing offenses, and will struggle to keep Brady and his star-studded collection of receivers from reaching the end zone.

McCarthy's seat will get a little bit hotter, as the Buccaneers blow past Dallas in front of their home crowd.

Score prediction: Buccaneers 31, Cowboys 21

NFL Week 1 pick: Tampa Bay -7.5