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Cowboys vs Buccaneers Picks Week 1 for Thursday Night Football

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 8 mins

Cowboys vs Buccaneers Picks Week 1 for Thursday Night Football

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The 2021 NFL season opens where the last one ended, and with a celebration of a champion beginning title defense. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl 55 at their own stadium. Now the Bucs open this season by hosting the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Kickoff Game.

Sportsbooks have installed Tampa is a 7.5-point favorite. The latest Cowboys vs. Buccaneers odds from online betting sites sets the Over/Under set at 51.5 points.

GET READY FOR THE SEASON: Week 1 NFL Betting Lines & Analysis For All 16 Games

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Key Matchups

Ezekiel Elliott vs. Bucs front 7: Elliott finished 2020 with career lows in rushing yards, TDs and average yards per rush. Without Dak Prescott at QB, defenses focused on Elliott and he was stuffed. Tampa’s front was as tough as any defense against the run in 2020 and return everyone from the unit.

Prescott vs. himself: Prescott hasn’t thrown an official pass since his leg was badly damaged in Week 5 vs. the Giants last year. He’s reportedly been great in training camp but didn’t play in any preseason action. We’ll see if there is any skittishness the first time Ndamukong Suh crashes in on him.

Ronald Jones vs. Dallas D: The Cowboys ranked 31st in yards allowed to running backs in 2020. The linebacking corps was overhauled, but the physical Jones – and Leonard Fournette – offer an immediate challenge.

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5 Key Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Stats

82.7: Rushing yards per game the Buccaneers allowed last season. Not only did that rank as the best rush defense in the NFL, it ranked No. 1 by a whopping 8.1 yards.

28.8: Points per game for Tampa Bay last season in home games, well under the league-leading 32.4 ppg mark on the road. While terrible at home, the Cowboys defense last year allowed only 24.8 ppg in road games and should be improved.

473: Points allowed by the Cowboys in 2020, the most in the history of the franchise. As many as eight rookies may be on the depth chart in Week 1, including four on the two deep.

5-0: The Under has hit in the last five meetings between the two teams. The total for Thursday’s Week 1 game has risen since the opening line.

1-6: The Buccaneers should be excited about opening the NFL season at home, a spot traditionally offered to the Super Bowl champion. But Tampa has only covered the spread once in its last seven Thursday night games.

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Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Player Props To Consider

Dak Prescott, Over 39.5 Attempts

Odds: -115 at PointsBet

Prescott made five starts in 2020, finishing four of them before his bad leg injury that ended his season. He averaged 44.4 attempts per game in that span. Tampa brings back everyone from a defense that ranked No. 1 vs. the run.

Ezekiel Elliott, Over 14.5 Rush Attempts

Odds: +110 at BetMGM

Mike McCarthy likes to establish the run, and Zeke wants to be fed. He gave the ball to Elliott 22 times in the first two weeks of 2020 before the wheels came off, but he’ll look to get him off to a strong start to the season again.

Ronald Jones, Over 45.5 Rush Yards

Odds: -110 at FOX Bet

The Cowboys allowed 160 yards rushing per game. Jones will share carries with Leonard Fournette, but he’s the feature back. He finished with 60-plus yards in five of the Bucs’ last six games.

Shaquil Barrett, Over 1.5 Tackles

Odds: -135 at DraftKings

Barrett lost favor in the playoffs, but had at least three tackles in every regular season game in 2020. He’s fighting for his starting job and needs to produce pronto.

Tom Brady, Longest Completion Over 39.5 Yards

Odds: -114 at FanDuel

Brady tossed at least one 40-plus yard pass in nine of 16 regular season games, and 35-plus in three others. Dallas’ porous defense should allow for big-play opportunities against it.

Cowboys vs Buccaneers Picks Week 1 for Thursday Night Football 1

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Weather Forecast

Weather for the season opener in Tampa looks great – temperatures around 80 are expected at kickoffs with little wind and even-less chance of rain.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Moneyline

Tampa Bay is -400 on the moneyline to win Thursday Night Football in early odds. Dallas is posted at +300. Neither side offers much value here for NFL betting fans.

The Buccaneers won eight in a row to end the 2020 season, the last being over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. We know what we’re getting with Tampa, and that’s Tom Brady and a potentially prolific offense, and everyone back on a top-10 defense.

For the Cowboys, there are more questions. Dak Prescott hasn’t played a snap of football in nearly 11 months, the defense was rebuilt but who’s to say improvements will be seen in Week 1? The Buccaneers should open defense of their championship with a home win here, but the Cowboys absolutely could surprise. These odds are too large to take a flyer on the Bucs.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Point Spread

The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers are favored by 7.5 points, a number that is often a “stay away” for the favorite. It’s also one of the bigger NFL spreads of Week 2. Indeed, oddsmakers are daring bettors to take the points on the Cowboys.

Tampa Bay is loaded, we know that. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl last year and return all 22 starters, something a defending champion hasn’t done in 40 years. But Dallas was a preseason Super Bowl contender last year before injuries to QB Dak Prescott and across the offensive line torpedoed the offense, and the young defense underachieved. Take the Bucs and lay the points over at FanDuel.

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Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Totals

The Over/Under for the season’s opening game is 51.5 points. Only the showdowns between the Cardinals and Titans (52) and that between the Browns and Chiefs (53) offer higher totals for NFL Week 1.

There is reason for that. The Buccaneers last season ranked No. 3 in scoring, while the Cowboys were only average but get back Prescott, who was on pace to lead the NFL in passing before a season-ending ankle injury. The Cowboys expect to find the form that had them as the sixth-ranked offense of 2019.

Tampa’s defense returns every starter while Dallas’ unit, which allowed more points than any defense in Cowboys history, spent the draft upgrading across the board. Still, each side’s offense should be better than the other side’s defense, which means points. We’re on the Over at DraftKings sportsbook.

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.