Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – NFL, Week 1 (2021)

By Dan Vasta in NFL
| September 2, 2021 2:36 am PDT

The 2021 NFL season kicks off with the defending world champions at home.

It will be fun seeing the raising of the banner in front of America’s team. Love or hate them, Dallas is back for more nationally televised games this season despite their struggles last season.

Tampa Bay deserves all the love after winning the Super Bowl. They brought their entire team back and even added Gio Bernard in the backfield. Tom Brady continues to defy father time, and the franchise is in unfamiliar territory.

The expectations are that nobody will be able to slow this team down on the NFC side. While the AFC is more challenging, the Bucs are consensus favorites in the NFC South. The NFC East was a disaster last season, and the Cowboys were part of that mess. Will they get back to relevancy?

Momentum is vital, and both clubs will look to start the season out on the winning end. With all of that in mind, let’s get to my Cowboys vs. Buccaneers prediction and betting pick for Thursday, September 9, 2021.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Odds

Cowboys (+7.5)-104
Buccaneers (+7.5)-116
Cowboys to Win+300
Buccaneers to Win-375
Over 50.5-115
Under 50.5-105

We often see defending champions or trendy teams lay an egg in their season opener. The last mind-boggling opener was when rookie Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing, and the Chiefs thumped the Patriots back in 2017.

Of course, the Bucs are still understandable touchdown favorites at the best US sports betting sites.

Tampa Bay is loaded entering the season, and they will have an opportunity to be favored in every game they play. There will be value on the underdogs, and this is a game that Dallas would be able to stun the nation to show everybody they are back as a contending football team.

It is time to discuss this matchup further by dissecting and breaking down the keys to victory for both squads.

Why the Cowboys Win

Winning this game could get challenging for Dallas after the season they suffered in 2020. The defense was downright disgusting, but the offense was productive with Dak Prescott.

Mike McCarthy and co. got a lot of heat for the down year, but this Dallas Cowboys 2021 coaching staff preview could suggest the ‘Boys are in a pretty good spot on the sidelines.

We saw CeeDee Lamb develop as a rookie even when Andy Dalton was under center. While Tampa has one of the elite defenses in the league, Prescott could turn this Dallas offense into one of the finer ones in the NFL. They need to develop a rushing attack like they did when Prescott was a rookie.

Ezekiel Elliott is viewed by many as a top 10 running back, and it wasn’t long ago he was a bruiser that could accelerate to the second and third levels on defense.

If Dallas can methodically move the chains this season on the ground and not ask Prescott to carry this offense every possession, the Cowboys will become an NFC contender.

It starts with winning their season opener, and while it will be easier said than done, the Cowboys have a plethora of weapons.

Amari Cooper has been a solid number one wide receiver, and Michael Gallup as a three almost seems like a cheat code.

If the offensive line can stay healthy to give them balance, the Cowboys will be able to play with any team in the NFL, including Tampa Bay.

Why the Buccaneers Win

The Dallas defense could be searching for answers all night against the stars on Tampa Bay.

Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown are a trio of options in the passing game for Tom Brady. O.J. Howard and Rob Gronkowski are capable tight ends that should see continued success as well.

Howard didn’t play much last season (torn Achilles), but he will be a monster target at 6’6 for Brady to connect with towards the red zone.

Brady against the Cowboys’ defense could be one of the more challenging mismatches in the opening weekend of games in Week 1. TB12 has made a Hall of Fame living by carving teams’ weaknesses up. Don’t think for a second that the iconic quarterback isn’t geared for the upcoming season to defend his crown.

On paper, this team is stacked, and appears to be the clear frontrunner in the NFC.

Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Gio Bernard all look capable of maintaining a steady balance on this offense attack, but the defense won them a Super Bowl over Kansas City.

It was pure utter domination, and many will never get over that victory. Many counted Brady out, and that is a bit foolish. The franchise has had woes over the years, but they have thrived on the defensive side of the ball.

The secondary is a pool of youth, but they have stud linebackers. Lavonte David and Devin White are freaks. White was an unstoppable force in the postseason, and he is dominant enough to harass Prescott and Elliott all night in this clash.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Prediction

This game will be one of the finer ones of the season in terms of excitement. Fading Tom Brady and Tampa Bay does not seem like the smart move. This opener should avoid being a blowout because of one man.

Dak Prescott is a star, and he should avoid a disastrous start to the season. He is far too talented, and the weapons are too explosive. Dallas has improved defensively and is far too potent offensively to get waxed.

The Bucs will win this one, but it will be a four-quarter game.

The offenses could be sluggish at first, but ultimately the defending champions will have the last laugh.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Pick

The total at 50.5 points is a bit much, but that seems accurate. I am not expecting a ton of fireworks early on in this one.

While the value is on Dallas, I don’t have much faith in them entering this game. We all need to see Dallas prove to be better on both sides of the ball before they come up on the winning side in a challenging spot.

Tampa Bay is the pick due to their ability to dominate field position and finish drives on both sides of the ball.

They should put more pressure on Prescott than most teams can. At home in the season opener, roll with Brady via the spread and for an outright win.

Pick
  • Tampa Bay (-7.5)
    -115

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