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NFL Thursday Night Football Week 1: Cowboys at Buccaneers—Lines, Odds, Analysis & Picks

An in-depth betting breakdown of the NFL opener between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 2021 NFL season kicks off on Thursday night when Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl Champions play host to Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. 

SI Betting is looking to pick up right where we left off last season on the NFL gridiron!

Last season the information shared here at SI Betting finished 72-58-1 (55%) ATS.

Thursday Night Football Week 1: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Spread: Dallas Cowboys +7.5 (-110) | Tampa Bay Buccaneers -7.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Dallas (+300) | Tampa Bay (-400)
  • Total: 52– Over (-110) | Under 52 (-110)
  • Public (Spread) Betting Percentages: DAL 58% | TB: 42%
  • Game Info: Thursday September 9, 2021 8:20 pm EST | NBC

(Note: Odds are subject to change.)

Tom Brady smiles after winning the Super Bowl

The line has bounced around slightly since its opening in favor of Tampa Bay as 8.5-point favorites over the Dallas Cowboys, with a line placing the Buccaneers as 7.5-point favorites at SI Sportsbook.

The public steam has pushed the number down after its opening in late August, and money has arrived, grabbing the points in support of the visiting Cowboys.

The defending Super Bowl Champions, who were 11-5 SU in the regular season in 2020, were only slightly profitable against the spread posting a 9-7 ATS mark. In their playoff run - that culminated with a 31-9 blowout of the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV—Tom Brady treated his backers to a 3-1 ATS mark that included three consecutive wins as underdogs in the eyes of the oddsmakers. Bettors will not find Tampa Bay with plus-odds in Week 1 against the Cowboys with a line demanding more than a full touchdown of points between the two NFC powers.

Brady finds all of his receiving weapons returning in 2021 as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown make up one of the best collections of wideouts in the league. Sportsbooks are projecting that Brady will surpass 300-yards passing on Thursday night as most books around the country are hanging his projected passing betting market around 305.5. My projections have Antonio Brown re-emerging as one of the NFL's top wideouts in 2021. The veteran receiver became a reliable outlet for Brady hauling in six touchdowns in the stretch run (final six games) last season. Following that trend, Brown's any-time touchdown market (+188) is a wager all bettors should look to support at plus-odds.

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On the ground, the Buccaneers possess a strong tandem of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones. Fournette became the club's featured back at the end of the season after Jones was forced to miss time with COVID-19, scoring four touchdowns in Tampa Bay's four playoff wins, including eight total touchdowns in the final nine games. With Jones now fully healthy, his any-time touchdown market at (+125) is another market I would look to exploit.

Dak Prescott Sports Illustrated cover

On the other side of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys will be welcoming back quarterback Dak Prescott. The star quarterback played in only five games in 2020 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Dallas struggled immensely, going 6-10 SU last season. The Cowboys were a profitable team for bettors to fade, posting a 5-11 ATS mark over that span.

Dallas has one of the most explosive offensive attacks with Prescott under center, Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, and Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb forming one of the NFL's top tandems. Lamb appears poised to become the WR1 in the Dallas attack in 2021. My projections have Lamb leading the club in receiving yards (72.5) in Week 1.

We learned on Sunday that Dallas would be without star guard Zack Martin on Thursday night after testing positive for COVID-19. All bettors and fantasy owners should not easily overlook or dismiss this news as Martin is quite possibly the most important offensive player for the Cowboys not named Prescott. Following Martin's absence, I would temper all expectations for Elliott in the running game as Tampa Bay possesses one of the best front sevens in the NFL.

Look for Tampa Bay to start with a home win and begin the 2021 season just as they finished off in 2020. Lay the points and look to buy the hook.

TRENDS

  • Dallas was 5-11 ATS in 2020
  • The Cowboys were 2-6 ATS on the road in 2020
  • Tampa Bay was 12-8 ATS overall (regular season & playoffs) in 2020
  • The Buccaneers were 6-3 ATS at Raymond James Stadium last season (including winning Super Bowl LIV in their home stadium)

BET: Tampa Bay -7 (-120)

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Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.