It’s been seven months since we had meaningful football – Stryker does not count preseason – but the NFL is back when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a nationally-televised opener Thursday night.
Tampa, with Tom Brady now recovered from the torn MCL he played through for an entire Super Bowl-winning season in 2020, will start heavy favorites to defeat a Dallas team which has plenty of questions to answer.
The line for this game has been moving in only one direction – the Bucs – since it opened months ago when the 2021 schedule was announced.
Dallas had a defense which was historically bad in 2020, while Dak Prescott has been nursing an injured shoulder throughout the preseason. Hardly the best way to prep for the defending Super Bowl champs.
Here is all you need to know ahead of the big one on Thursday night.
Cowboys vs Bucs Betting Odds
When the lines opened for this game in May, Tampa was a 6.5 favorite on the spread with Vegas and most online sportsbooks.
But with the Bucs healthy and returning all of their starters from that Super Bowl success, it’s moved significantly and Dallas is now an 8.5-point underdog.
If you prefer money line action, Tampa is a prohibitive -400 favorite (widely available) with the Cowboys a +340 shot.
Cowboys vs Bucs kickoff time, watch on TV
Kickoff at Raymond James Stadium is at 820pm ET (1720 PT), and you can watch live on NBC and all of its streaming options.
Cowboys vs Bucs betting preview and predictions
Like we said, the line has moved for a reason. Dallas has massive question marks against its defense – despite spending eight of 11 draft picks on that side of the ball.
The addition of terrific Penn State linebacker Micah Parson should raise the talent level for Dallas, but it also appeared to be loading up on something that wasn’t an area of need.
Dallas has injuries hurting its depth at defensive tackle, while the secondary is a work in progress.
Set this against the fact Tampa has astonishingly managed to return all of its starters from that win over the Chiefs that kept the Lombardi Trophy in Florida that February night.
Brady is healthy, and has had a full offseason to work with his ‘new’ teammates. If he managed to win a Super Bowl with COVID and injury ravaging his 2020 preparations, what can he achieve this time round?
On the money line you have to take Tampa, anything else would require a massive intake of whisky, and Stryker no longer drinks when he is watching and betting on football. It is a bad bad mix.
OddsCritic Prediction: Tampa Bay -8.5 to beat Dallas at -105 (FanDuel)
Cowboys vs Bucs betting offers
As ever, the sportsbooks are desperate to entice new customers to NFL betting at the start of the new season, so there are a few notable offers.
We’ve already told you about the PointsBet offer that means you can turn $10 into $20 if the aforementioned Brady throws for a yard tonight. We think he’ll manage that…
DraftKings meanwhile have a tasty signup bonus – open an account with its sportsbook and place a $1 bet on tonight’s game, and it will instantly give you $200 in free bets.
FanDuel has a similar offer – with them you sign up and bet $5, and they give you $200 in free bets.
So all in all you could set yourself up for a nice weekend on the couch betting on football, with very little cost. Enjoy!