What is up Knup Sports! Another NFL season is here, it feels great to be back.
The action kicks off with the defending champion Buccaneers hosting the Cowboys tonight.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Cowboys vs Buccaneers Matchup Notes
- Teams: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Where: Tampa Bay, FL | Raymond James Stadium
- Date: Thursday, 9/9, 8:20 PM EST
- Betting Odds (at PointsBet):
- Spread: Tampa Bay -8.5
- Moneyline: DAL +330 | TB -435
- Over/under: 51
Cowboys At a Glance
Dallas went 6-10 last season, missing quarterback Dak Prescott for much of the season. While the Cowboys have a loaded offense, their defense was one of the league’s worst last season.
The Cowboys were a bottom-ten defense at stopping both the pass and the run, and they certainly realized their weaknesses – credit to them.
Dallas prioritized defense this offseason, drafting six defenders to begin the draft and signing starters and role players in free agency.
Rookie Micah Parsons headlines the group of fresh faces and Dallas hopes these new additions shore up their biggest vulnerability. There’s no guarantee these moves drastically change things, so until proven otherwise, this defense is a good target for betting and DFS.
Buccaneers At a Glance
Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl and has remarkably returned all 22 starters from that championship team.
You’re not going to find a better team with more balance, Tampa Bay’s offense is loaded with weapons and their defense can rush the passer, stop the run and shut down receivers.
You didn’t need me to say it, but the Buccaneers are very very good, and are in for a great season.
Dallas Players to Keep an Eye on
For Dallas, the identity of this offense is the passing game. Prescott is healthy, and has Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup at his disposal.
A key storyline heading into the opener is that the Cowboys All-Pro guard Zack Martin is out. This, plus a stout Buccaneer defensive line, has me fading Ezekiel Elliott tonight.
The Tampa Bay secondary is equally strong, but off pure volume, one of these Cowboys receivers is bound to have a big game. It helps that the Cowboys are likely to be trailing, and thus passing even more.
Amari Cooper: 130 TGTs, 82.4% Snaps
CeeDee Lamb: 111 TGTs, 63.8% Snaps
Michael Gallup: 105 TGTs, 87.6% Snaps
Week 1 Prop Lines
Cooper: 64.5 yards, +175 TD
Lamb: 62.5 yards, +150 TD
Gallup: 51.5 yards, +260 TD
My Prop Pick
C. Lamb OVER 61.5 receiving yards (-115)
Lamb lined up in the slot 93.2% of the time last season, and draws Sean Murphy-Bunting tonight
Murphy-Bunting allowed the fifth most YPG to WRs from the slot last year (min. 8 games)
Game script suggests Dallas will be throwing a lot https://t.co/jJTmf54Gy4
— Griffin Carroll (@griffybets) September 9, 2021
I’m rolling with Lamb in this one. I think the second-year player is the best receiver on this Dallas team and feels bound for a big year.
Aiding his cause for over 62.5 yards is his proclivity for lining up in the slot. Tampa Bay’s slot corner, Sean Murphy-Bunting, is the lowest graded defender on PFF for this Buccaneer defense.
With a softer matchup than those on the outside, Lamb should be targeted heavily and hit this modest line.
Tampa Bay Players to Keep an Eye on
You can’t go wrong targeting anyone on this Tampa Bay offense. Tom Brady has a stacked group of weapons in both the passing and running game, and as mentioned above, this Cowboys defense is susceptible to yards in chunks.
The biggest downside to betting player props with the Bucs is just how many players this offense has. The pass-catchers are deep and the team also rotates through running backs.
On paper, the weaker unit on this Dallas defense appears to be the secondary, so any of the three receivers are solid bets.
I’m staying away myself and instead focusing on the run game. This is a bet built on three things: predicted game-flow, a low line, and a sprinkle of playoff bias from last year.
I’m referring of course to running back Leonard Fournette, who has the lowest projected yardage total on this offense at 34.5 rushing yards. Playoff Lenny was one of my go-to’s all postseason, and he hit his over in all four games. I can’t forget that.
The Buccaneers seem poised to put up points quickly and slow down the pace, which plays right into Fournette’s style. That’s my pick, and I’m sticking with it.
2020 Stats: WRs
Mike Evans: 109 TGTs, 79.8% Snaps
Chris Godwin: 84 TGTs, 62.8% Snaps
Antonio Brown: 61 TGTS, 30.1% Snaps
2020 Stats: RBs
Ronald Jones: 5.1 ypc, 42.0% Snaps
Leonard Fournette: 3.8 ypc, 35.7% Snaps
Week 1 Prop Lines
Evans: 63.5 receiving yards, -110 TD
Godwin: 57.5 receiving yards, +115 TD
Brown: 58.5 receiving yards, +190 TD
Jones: 46.5 rushing yards, +120 TD
Fournette: 34.5 rushing yards, +170 TD
My Prop Pick
Leonard Fournette OVER 34.5 rushing yards, to score at +170
Thoughts on the Spread
Tampa Bay is going to win this game. They’re the better team on both ends and playing at home to begin their championship defense.
Still, I’m staying away from the spread tonight. 8.5 is just a bit too high for me, and I prefer the value with the player props above. It’s great to be back folks, let’s start the season off strong!
For more NFL betting info, follow me on Twitter @griffybets. I’ll see you back here for Monday Night Football, have a great Week 1.
Be sure to check out our other free picks and betting plays to bet on today.