Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bucs looking for a winning start

The curtain raiser of the 2021 NFL season will see the reigning champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Dallas Cowboys. Planet Sport previews the opening clash.

The NFL is finally back, and it feels like it has been away for a very long time.

But don't worry Planet Sport will have you covered through the season to help steer you in the right direction when it comes to having a punt on the big matches.

We can't wait to get started.

When: September 10, 2021

Time: 01:20am (BST)

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

How to watch: NFL Game Pass, Sky Sports NFL

Outright odds:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers win at 2/7

Dallas Cowboys win at 5/2

Cowboys @ Buccaneers Best bets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over 24.5 at 4/9

Total points over 52.5 at 10/11

Double Result

Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Draw at 40/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Dallas Cowboys at 11/1

Buccaneers vs Cowboys background

Cowboys vs Buccaneers background

In the previous four match-ups between the two sides, the home team have been the victors, which is a good omen for the Buccaneers this time around.

They also come into the new season as favourites having won Super Bowl LV, beating Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 at the Raymond James Stadium back in February. In doing so, they became the first team in NFL history to play in and win a home Super Bowl.

As expected, a lot of attention will be on the Buccaneers' quarterback Tom Brady, who will be playing in his second season with Tampa Bay and his 22nd in the NFL. The game against the Cowboys will be a record-breaking 300th regular-season start for Brady.  

However, the Cowboys have their own star quarterback in Dak Prescott. 

The Louisiana-born QB injured his throwing shoulder in late July but is hoping to be ready in time for his team's opener.

The Cowboys come into the season with a point to prove, having gone 6-10 last season. They have not made the playoffs since 2018.

Last season, largely thanks to Brady, the Buccaneers had the second-ranked offense in the NFL in terms of points per play with 0.48. This compares with the Cowboys, who had the 28th-ranked defense in the same category, allowing 0.45 points per play.

Planet Sport Bet has the Buccaneers to score more than 24.5 points at 4/9.

Last season, the Buccaneers also dominated on the other side of the ball. Their defense had 48 sacks on the season, which was the fourth-highest in the league.

The Cowboys' offensive line had been one of the team's strengths in previous seasons but in the 2020 campaign they conceded 44 sacks, which was the seventh-most in the league.

Quarterback match-up: Brady vs Prescott

The first game of the season sees a match-up of two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Both Dak Prescott and Tom Brady were not highly rated coming out of college, with neither of them taken in the first round. They are examples of how hard work pays off and how important it is to take any chance you get.

Brady is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time. Having spent 20 years with the New England Patriots, playing in nine Super Bowls and winning six, Brady moved to the Buccaneers before the 2020 season.

In his first season in Tampa Bay, he led his new team to their second Super Bowl title. He was crucial in the signing of Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski, who reconnected with Brady after dominating together for years with the New England Patriots.

Prescott is entering the 2021 season having signed a massive four-year deal worth $160million with the Cowboys. The deal also included an NFL record signing bonus worth $66million.

He is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league. Prescott is known as a dual-threat quarterback as he has the ability to beat teams with both his arm and his legs. In his five years in the NFL, he has rushed for 1,314 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. Prescott has a career passer rating of 97.3, which currently ranks seventh all-time, tied with his opposite number Brady.

Key men

Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Mike Evans is one of the most talented and consistent wide receivers in the NFL. He has been in the league for seven seasons and has had over 1,000 yards receiving in all seven seasons. He is the first player in NFL history to have achieved this feat. At 6ft 4in, Evans is a mismatch for any defense in the NFL and is one of the stars of the Buccaneers offense. 

Devin White (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

White plays as an inside linebacker on a Buccaneers defense that is packed with superstars. Drafted fifth overall in 2019, White has quickly become a leader and is well-respected in the locker room.

In 2020, White tallied 140 tackles and nine sacks, showing his worth as one of the more valuable players on the Buccaneers defense.

Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)

With the uncertainty surrounding Dak Prescott's shoulder injury, a lot of responsibility could fall on the shoulders of running back Ezekiel Elliott.

In 2016 and 2018, he led the league in rushing yards and was a force in the 2019 season. However, last season he did not perform at his best, rushing for his lowest amount of yards in a Cowboys shirt.

If the Cowboys want to start their season off with a win, then Elliott needs to get back to his best.

Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys)

After allowing a franchise-record 473 points, the Cowboys used eight of their 11 2021 NFL Draft picks to select players on the defensive side of the ball.

With their first pick of the Draft, they set about trying to fix this by taking highly-touted linebacker Micah Parsons.

Despite not playing the 2020 college season due to the pandemic, Parsons was still believed to be one of the best defensive players in his draft class. The Cowboys saw potential and will be hoping that Parsons can be a leader and allow the team to be solid on the defensive side of the ball.

Previous match-ups

The two sides have met 19 times, twice in the post season, with the Cowboys winning 15 and the Buccaneers winning four.

December 23, 2018: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 @ Dallas Cowboys 27

The two sides last met three years ago and were both in very different places. The Buccaneers were in a lull, struggling to get a winning record, while the Cowboys reached the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Buccaneers were not firing with Jameis Winston at quarterback - he was not consistent as he threw for 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys' win saw them wrap up the NFC East title, led by two touchdowns by Dak Prescott. It was the second time that Winston and Prescott had met in the NFL, with Prescott going 2-0 against the Buccaneers quarterback.

Statistically, the Buccaneers had a better game with more total yards and more first downs, but they did have two turnovers while the Cowboys had zero. Cowboys linebacker Jaylen Smith returned a fumble for 69 yards for a score.

December 18, 2016: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 @ Dallas Cowboys 26

The Cowboys drafted Prescott in the 2016 NFL Draft as a future replacement for team legend Tony Romo.

An injury to Romo in pre-season saw Prescott start the season opener. He then went on to guide the Cowboys to the playoffs and earn himself the NFL Rookie of the Year award.

The Cowboys were led by their two star rookies in Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, and the pair combined for over 400 yards of offense.

Elliott had one of his iconic moments in the win over the Buccaneers, celebrating his second-quarter touchdown run by jumping into a giant Salvation Army red kettle.

The victory also took the Cowboys one step closer to home-field advantage in the playoffs.

November 15, 2015: Dallas Cowboys 6 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

Ahead of the 2015 season, the Buccaneers drafted the 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston. The previous year, the team had gone 2-14 and had the number one overall pick.

This victory over Dallas took the team to 4-5, winning for the third time in five games and doubling their win total from the year before.

Things weren't so pretty for the Cowboys as without injured quarterback Tony Romo, this team confirmed their seventh straight defeat - their longest losing streak since 1989.

Meanwhile, the win for the Buccaneers was the first time they had won when scoring 10 points or fewer since 2005.

Also check out:

NFL 2021/22 NFC betting preview - Can anyone stop the Bucs?

NFL 2021/22 AFC betting preview: Browns and Titans set to challenge the Chiefs for the championship