DALLAS COWBOYS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

NFL Football is back! America’s team travel to Florida to take on the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers as Tom Brady kicks off his quest for an 8th ring!

Tampa did what many expected to be impossible this offseason in keeping their Super Bowl-winning team together. The Bucs are probably the strongest team on paper in the whole of the NFL and are no doubt going to be there or thereabouts when all’s said and done this season. When we think about the Bucs we picture Tom Brady throwing the ball to guys like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. So much so that it’s easy to forget just how good this Defense was in 2020. Tampa were the only team in the NFL to keep opposing RB’s under 1,000 total rushing yards for the 2020 season (Throws Zeke Elliot bet in the trash*) and whilst their secondary wasn’t quite as stifling, they made plenty of plays on the ball in order to not be a total liability and hurt the team as a whole. 

Dallas will be looking to forget about a wasted season in 2020 that was doomed as soon as Dak Prescott got carted off the field in a Week 5 win over the Giants. The Offense couldn’t function properly without their playmaking QB and, it showed itself as 6 losses in the 7 games after Prescott’s injury as they failed to score 20 points in any of those losses. Dak is now healthy and ready to go for Week 1 and, he’s still surrounded by talented playmakers like Zeke Elliot, Amari Cooper & Ceedee Lamb. This unit had no issues moving the ball and scoring points before Dak’s untimely injury and, I expect them to be one of the most explosive passing attacks in the NFL this year if they can stay healthy. On Defense, there are more question marks. The unit was in the bottom 10 for total Defense in 2020, whilst being bottom two against the run, allowing 200 yards on the ground in 4 games last year, the acquisitions of Micah Parsons & Osa Odighhizuwa in the draft should help to improve against the run, but I feel like the Defense needed more than two highly-rated rookies to improve their ability to stop the run. 

Tampa Bay are 8 point favourites to win this game, a line I think they’ll cover, which means the Cowboys should be playing from behind which plays into the expected throw-first game plan of the Cowboys Offense, add to this a Bucs Defense that ranked first in the NFL in stopping the run last year and I think it’s safe to assume that we see Dak airing it out tonight and a big beneficiary of that could be Amari Cooper. The silky-smooth route-runner was a monster in the 4 full games played with Dak Prescott last season, posting over 80 yards in all four of those games, which makes his U/O 64.5 receiving yards line an interesting one. Cooper went for over 65 yards in 10 games last year, and I’m confident it would’ve been more than that had Prescott been healthy. Cooper has played the Bucs in Tampa just once in his career to date, a game in which he had 12 receptions for 173 yards and a score, so hopefully, that’s a good omen for us! On the Bucs side, I like that we got Gronk’s receiving yards number at 24.5, he bested that number in 12 regular-season games last year and twice again in the playoffs, including the Super Bowl. The double is a 15/8 RequestABet with SkyBet. 

Spread: Bucs -8

Total Match Points line: U/O 51.5

Game Prediction: Bucs 30 – 21 Cowboys 

Best Bet: Rob Gronkowski 25+ receiving yards & Amari Cooper 65+ receiving yards @ 15/8 with SkyBet (RequestABet Specials up to 5/1) [0.5]

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