Thursday Night Football Preview

If that doesn’t get you pumped up for a great game tonight, I don’t know what will. To start the season, you have the super bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers going up against a Dallas Cowboys team with a ton of weapons and Dak Prescott back from injury. Giving us a great quarterback matchup for the first night was a great decision. The big question mark is going to be what Dak can do against this great Bucs defense. He sat out the entire preseason so his first pass will be the first one in almost a year.

The Cowboys season took a quick downturn after leaving the Giants game in week 5. A rotating door at quarterback and a slew of other injuries saw them finish at 6-10. The hope is that with the return of Prescott, as well as Blake Jarwin, Tyron Smith, and La’el Collins, this team can return to the top of NFC East. This is a great litmus test to see where they’re at.

The Bucs defense has a lot of guys up front that can get after the quarterback. With Zach Martin out due to Covid, the right side of that offensive line is going to be tested early and often. The Bucs were able to get home for 48 sacks last year, third in the NFC. If they can continue to get that push up front, it could be a long night.

Despite all of the injuries and incosistencies from the offense, Dallas still finished 8th in passing last season. You would expect that to get up into the top 5 this year if everything goes as planned. The Bucs defense was pretty good in most metrics when it comes to passing but they did allow the third highest completion percentage. This could turn into a high scoring affair if CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper can find those holes in the secondary.

On the other side of the ball, you have the ageless Tom Brady trying to do something he has only done one time in his career; win back to back super bowls. He has everyone back on offense including his buddy Rob Gronkowski. There are some question marks in terms of health for the wide receivers going into this game but Brady always finds a way to make something out of nothing. Giovanni Bernard was added to an already full running back room. He and Leonard Fournette will be licking their chops going up against this defense. The Cowboys finished second to last a year ago when stopping the run. Can Micah Parsons be the difference up the middle to change that?

The big change of the offseason that has fans excited is the addition of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. He may have failed as a head coach with the Falcons, but some people forget that he was one of the best defensive coordinators in the game when he was in Seattle. Being able to only focus on that side of the ball may give him a new sense of life. Along with Parsons as the first round pick, the Cowboys made six straight defensive picks in the draft. They are trying to inject new life into that side of the ball to try and match the up tempo ability of the offense. They did finish 7th in the league last year in turnovers forced. If they can get into the middle of the pack in terms of yards, the Cowboys will have a good year.

Odds and Pick

The spread for this game is set at -8.5 in favor of the Bucs. The total is set at 51.5. I love the under. I have a principle pick of taking prime time unders and I think the offenses have inflated this total a little bit. The Bucs defense will be able to keep the Cowboys relatively in check, especially with Dak not playing a snap in so long. I really do believe in this Cowboys defense improving so give me Cowboys +8.5 and the under.

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