The NFL's season-opening game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys is on our doorstep, with the two teams set to face off at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday night.
Besides the fact that the reigning Super Bowl champions are set to take the field, this game serves as the return of Cowboys' star quarterback Dak Prescott, who signed a bank-breaking extension with Dallas this offseason despite only playing five games in 2020 due to a fractured ankle. As such, this could be one of the most-viewed games on the NFL's slate this year.
You can find the AllBucs' staff predictions for the game and what we expect to see below.
Zach Goodall: Buccaneers 31, Cowboys 20
SI Betting lists Tampa Bay as the 7.5-point favorite over Dallas on Thursday with the over/under set at 52. While I think the Buccaneers will cover the spread, I think the Bucs defense will be able to hold the Cowboys to two field goals on drives in scoring position with big plays on third down.
Offensively, I'd figure the Buccaneers' passing game will pick up right where it left off in 2020 and have little-to-no issues moving the ball. The biggest question, for me, is what the Bucs' rushing attack will look like and if it can develop a flow between three meaningful contributors in Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, and Giovani Bernard. I'm thinking Jones will look like the most impressive of the three in week one.
To keep the Joe Tryon-Shoyinka hype rolling after his productive rookie preseason, I bet he records a sack as one of Tampa Bay's big third-down plays on the night.
Jason Beede: Buccaneers 27, Cowboys 21
I have this game finishing a little closer than Zach and Evan, but I think that's mainly because it's a season-opener and there can be a lot of unknowns in a game like this.
We all saw last year how the Bucs struggled in the first quarter during stretches of the season, but I have a feeling this team will come out and jump out to an early lead. That's in large part due to a normal offseason for veteran quarterback Tom Brady, who now has a better understanding of Tampa Bay's playbook compared to last September.
The one concern I have is Tampa Bay's secondary handling CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup in Dak Prescott's first game back after returning from injury. Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and cornerback Carlton Davis III will have their hands full Thursday night.
Evan Winter: Buccaneers 32, Cowboys 23
I literally had the same score as Zach going in to Thursday night, so instead of Wheel Of Fortune-ing him, I'll just add a couple of points because we all love more points, right?
This game is Tampa's to lose. The Bucs outmatch the Cowboys in most areas and there is simply more consistency on both sides of the ball for the Bucs. The Cowboys are not only getting back a Dak Prescott who hasn't seen live action in basically a year, but they're also breaking in a brand new defense under new coordinator Dan Quinn. In all, the Bucs simply have too much going for them to lose this game.
I think Ronald Jones II has a monster game, rushing for over 150 yards and at least one touchdown on opening night.
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