Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 1 Predictions: Against the Spread, Total and Props
- Key Stat: In 2020, both Dallas and Tampa Bay were in the top four in situation-neutral pace (seconds per snap)
Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Date: Thursday, September 9
Time: 8:20 PM ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, FL)
TV Network: NBC
Dallas Cowboys Record: 0-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Record: 0-0
Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction
The Thursday night opener to the 2021 season could be an absolute shootout. We have two offenses that played very fast in 2020, both finishing inside the top four in situation-neutral time to snap for the season. We also have a clear favorite in the Buccaneers, who sit at -8, and the pace trends tilt further when we consider that potential game script — Dallas was first in average time to snap when trailing by seven or more points in 2020, while Tampa continued to play fast when ahead, finishing third in average time to snap when leading by seven or more.
At the same time, we always have to be aware of context, because these types of trends are baked into the 52 over/under. Dak Prescott is set to make his return after a substantial leg injury cut short his 2020 season. He had shoulder troubles throughout August stemming from a late July strain which became as much of or more of an issue than his leg rehab. The Cowboys will be without superstar guard Zack Martin, who is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. And the Buccaneers return a fearsome defense that will challenge the Cowboys’ offense from the jump.
While Prescott didn’t play in the preseason, Tom Brady did get some reps in, and he looked sharp on 16 pass attempts, completing 12 and throwing a touchdown. We’re still a few days out, but there’s also some potential for rain Thursday night in Tampa, with winds potentially over 10 miles per hour. Both of these teams could come out a little more conservatively than their 2020 pace stats indicate, and I expect Tampa Bay to find more success early.
My full-game leans are the under and Tampa Bay -8, but both are tough numbers, especially because this game could get frantic in the second half. The Cowboys’ aggressiveness while trailing in 2020 led to a lot of wild finishes with plenty of points late, and it wouldn’t be crazy to see a backdoor cover and also the game going over with a late Cowboys touchdown. That has me looking at the first-half market, where I can grab Tampa and the under and make more practical bets on how I think this game will go.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Picks
Bet: First Half — Under 26.5 @ -110
Bet: First Half — TB -4.5 @ -105