FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys have finally given up hope that right guard Zack Martin might miraculously roll out of the COVID sick bed, a team source telling CowboysSI.com that "out meant out'' regarding the All-Pro guard's availability for Week 1.
So, the Cowboys kick off the NFL regular season with a test unlike any other, looking to upset the defending Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Taking center stage: quarterback Tom Brady begins his 21st NFL season and defense of the Super Bowl title, while quarterback Dak Prescott starts his comeback season, playing live football for the first time in 11 months after suffering a season-ending ankle injury in 2020.
SOLD OUT: Thursday is expected to have a full crowd (more than 67,000 fans) in Raymond James Stadium as the Buccaneers raise their second championship banner in the organization's history. It'll be the largest crowd there since 2003, the season after the Bucs won Super Bowl 37.
WHAT TO WATCH: Can Prescott and company find the end zone against a Bucs defense that allowed just 21.6 points per game last year? Tampa Bay also held opponents to a league-low 82.7 rushing yards per game on just 3.8 yards per carry. With Martin, arguably their best player, out due to COVID, Dallas will face a challenge to get the run game going.
FUN FACT: The defending champions return all 22 starters.
RECORDS: Dallas Cowboys (0-0) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
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ODDS: The Cowboys are current 8-point underdogs on FanDuel. The over/under is 52 total points.
GAME TIME: 7:20 p.m. CT on Thursday, September 9, 2021
LOCATION: Raymond James Stadium
TV/RADIO: NBC, 105.3 The Fan
THE FINAL WORD: Prescott on a fast start for Cowboys:
“Obviously, I have high expectations for myself. I plan to come out starting fast. I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily want the numbers that I had that early because we weren’t winning games and we weren’t being competitive early, and that’s why some of those numbers came about. I plan to come out better than I was last year.”
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