What to Watch For: Buccaneers vs Cowboys

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers season opener is finally upon us. This weekend the they travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in their regular season opener.

This is a repeat of last year’s season opener when the Cowboys came to Tampa Bay. Although it may be the same two teams, this game has a very different feel to it.

I’m taking a look at the matchups between the modern versions of these two teams.

Buccaneers’ Defensive Line vs Cowboys’ Offensive Line

For the last several years the offensive line has been the strength of many good Dallas teams. With stars like Zach Martin and Tyron Smith at the core, the Cowboys have been one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. However, that may no longer be the case.

Smith is currently on injured reserve and Martin is the only name left from the great group they used to have. Frankly, there are currently more questions than answers for the Cowboys up front. 

The Bucs defensive line should look good in this one. We saw the way Vita Vea dominated Cowboys starting center Tyler Biadasz last season in what was a microcosm of this trench battle.

We only saw Dak Prescott sacked once in last year’s game. It seems likely that the Bucs will get home more often this time around.

Cowboys’ Secondary vs Buccaneers’ Passing Offense

In some ways, Dallas got the better of this matchup last year as they intercepted Tom Brady twice. However, Brady also threw for 379 yards and four touchdowns.

The young Cowboys secondary is now another year older and another year wiser, whereas Brady is just another year older. This could be a difficult matchup for the Bucs.

Add to that the cast of new faces on the Bucs offense. Guys like Russell Gage, Julio Jones and Kyle Rudolph haven’t had much time to build chemistry with Brady. And with Godwin unlikely to play it will basically be Mike Evans and the new guys.

A few key miscues could change the outlook of this game. Certainly a matchup to keep an eye on.

Buccaneers’ Interior Offensive Line vs Anyone 

This will be the first start for second year center Robert Hainsey and rookie left guard Luke Goedeke. Both played right tackle in college, so each has had to learn a new position.

The Cowboys don’t have the most inspiring group of defensive tackles, so it should be a good way to ease into the league. Of course, at this level nothing is easy.

One name to always watch with Dallas is DeMarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys defensive end is very good and could kick inside on passing situations.

The Bucs unproven offensive interior will have to prove that they are up for the task. They have the talent, but the lack of experience might be too much to overcome.

Predictions 

The Bucs are the more talented team in this game, but have several key questions to answer. I have to assume that not all of these will turn out in the Bucs favor and make this a closer game than some expect.

Considering most of the Bucs (and Cowboys) issues are on offense, I expect this to be a fairly low scoring game.

Final score prediction

Bucs – 23
Cowboys – 20

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