X-Factor Matchup: Buccaneers vs Cowboys

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The regular season is finally here! No more training camp stories. No more preseason games. From this point on the games all count as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin their quest to repeat as champions

In less than a week the Buccaneers will face off against the Dallas Cowboys. After a forgettable 2020, the Cowboys are looking to rebound and are considered by some to be the favorites to win the NFC East. This game will not be an easy matchup to start the season for either team.

However, one matchup in particular jumps out in this game as one to watch as a deciding factor. That is the Cowboys wide receiver group going against the Buccaneers secondary. This is the type of clash that could ultimately decide who walks away with a win to start the season. Here’s what I’ll be focusing on for this game within the game.

Amari Cooper vs Carlton Davis

This is truly a strength on strength battle. Both of these players have a legitimate case to be made that they are a top ten player at their position. Realistically, it’s hard to say that either has the edge here. Cooper could very well win this matchup with his smooth route running and separation ability. On the other hand, Davis could disrupt that with his physicality and size. 

Expect each of these guys to win their share of plays vs the other. 

Sean Murphy-Bunting vs CeeDee Lamb

More than any other, this is the individual battle I’m looking forward to. Murphy-Bunting had an up and down year for the Buccaneers last season, but ended on a very high note with three postseason interceptions. He seems like he is on the verge of becoming a truly great player.

Lamb burst onto the scene as a rookie with nearly 1,000 receiving yards despite a revolving door at quarterback. Now with the return of a healthy Dak Prescott it seems likely that Lamb will only improve in year two. 

These appear to be a pair of ascending players who will be a good test for the other.

Michael Gallup vs Jamel Dean

Gallup feels like he is forgotten at times, but that’s not to say he isn’t a dangerous weapon. He’s accumulated over 800 yards (including over 1,100 in 2019) and at least five touchdowns each of the last two years. His consistency and ability both stand out on the field. 

Dean will have to try to counter that skill with superior size and athleticism. While Dean certainly has all the necessary ability, consistency has been an issue throughout his young career. There’s nothing Gallup does that should give Dean problems, but it will be a matter of good Dean vs bad Dean that determines this battle.

Overall

This is a very even matchup. However, if I had to give the edge to one group it would be to the Cowboys pass catchers. Offense always has the advantage, particularly early in the year. So with talent relatively even then the team who knows what’s happening has the edge.

With that said, wide receiver is the strength of this Dallas team. So the Buccaneers secondary doesn’t necessarily have to win this battle for the team to succeed. If these groups just stay relatively even throughout the game then it bodes well for Tampa Bay. 

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