Photo via Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs face the Cowboys on opening night for the second consecutive season, but this year the game is in Jerry Land at the majestic AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys are a talented team with a very good QB in Dak Prescott, and they only went down last season in the opening game versus the Bucs following a Ryan Succop game-winning field goal.
These Cowboys are not quite last year’s version, with Amari Cooper (traded to Cleveland) and Tyron Smith (injured) missing, but with the recent signing of 40-year-old veteran offensive lineman Jason Peters to potentially replace the superstar left tackle in Smith.
Peters is most certainly not Smith, and the Bucs will certainly have a huge advantage in regards to getting after the QB. Remember the Super Bowl against Patrick Mahomes, when the Bucs applied a ridiculous amount of pressure on the former Super Bowl MVP? Yeah, while that might not exactly happen this week, the Bucs won’t have a great deal of issues getting after Dak.
However, the Bucs are also obviously missing center Ryan Jensen, and star wideout Chris Godwin is questionable for the matchup. There’s not a great expectation for Godwin to come back and get a ton of action, but luckily Julio Jones and Russell Gage will be more than capable to fill in for Godwin.
Plus, despite their interior offensive line looking completely different than last year’s squad, the Cowboys’ interior defensive line is not exactly a brick wall.
The Bucs should have a relative amount of success running the ball with Lenny and rookie Rachaad White (who was listed as the backup in the most recent depth chart), but the Bucs will have to take care of the football; the Cowboys lead the NFL in takeaways last year, with corner Trevon Diggs leading the way with his league-leading 11 picks.
If the Bucs can get some protection and take advantage of the ultra-aggressive Diggs, they can rack up some huge gains, as Diggs is very susceptible to those double moves.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid none of it will matter. This game is by no means a sure thing, and it’s going to be really close, but I think the Bucs will come away with a loss on the road. But it won't be a bad thing at all. The Bucs need to go through some adversity this season in order to get to the promised land, and losing the opener will certainly sting.
Expect this opening week loss to galvanize the squad, and while a victory would be nice, I think the loss will give the Bucs a bit of a chip on their shoulder, especially with many around America calling for the Bills to win it all.
Hey, hopefully the Bucs tell me where I can put this prediction and they begin their undefeated season, but if they don’t, it’s all good. No reason to put too much stock into a team’s performance in the first week (or even the fourth week, to be honest).
So it’s great football is back, but let’s not put too much thought into how the first game goes. It’s a long season.