Today marks the last Sunday until February of 2022 where there won’t be an NFL game on the schedule. That’s right folks, the 2021 season is finally upon us and will kick off later this week when the Dallas Cowboys travel to Tampa Bay to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.
With the game set to kick off on Thursday, it’s time for predictions.
The Buccaneers enter the game as a 7.5-point favorite due largely to their superior roster and returning firepower. Tampa returned essentially its entire Super Bowl winning cast from last season and should be just as good in 2021, if not better. At the age of 44, Tom Brady will lead a stacked offense, while the Bucs defense might still prove to be the strength of the team.
On the other hand, the Cowboys have their sights set on a bounce back year. A devastating injury to starting quarterback Dak Prescott in Week 5 of last season sidetracked Mike McCarthy’s first year as head coach before it even really began. After an offseason swarmed by talk of Prescott’s health, Dallas will try to find a way to start the 2021 campaign on the right foot.
Many analysts haven’t entered their predictions for Thursday’s opener, but the ESPN computer already has a winner picked. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Buccaneers a 69.8 percent chance to get the win at home, while the Cowboys have just a 30 percent chance to emerge victorious.
Given Tampa Bay’s run to the Super Bowl last season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them continue to be a popular pick this week. The Cowboys will need to be almost flawless if they want to pull off the upset.
The 2021 season opener between the Buccaneers and the Cowboys will kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay. The game will air on NBC.