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Buccaneers' defense sacks the Cowboys quarterback/via buccaneers.com
Buccaneers' defense sacks the Cowboys quarterback/via buccaneers.com

Buccaneers Need More Than Brady to Beat Cowboys

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Dallas Cowboys Monday night at Raymond James Stadium in a playoff game that will more than likely result in the Cowboys getting the W. They’re the 2.5 point favorites according to Caesar’s Sportsbook as of Wednesday night, and for good reason.

The Matchup 

Dallas is coming off a 12-5 season (for comparison, the Bucs are 8-9). It has an offense that put up 27.5 points per game in the regular season (about nine more than the Bucs), their defense only allowed 20.1 points (the Bucs also only allowed 21.1). The Cownoys also had the most takeaways in the NFL with 33 (the Bucs had 20), and the second highest turnover differential in the league (+10, the Bucs were -2).

The Cowboys also have a potential defensive player of the year, Micah Parsons, coming off the edge and a pair of corners, Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland, who have racked up eight picks between them.

On the offensive side, Dak Prescott is still Dallas’ QB, and they have a two-headed monster in the backfield with Ezekiel Elliott and the electric Tony Pollard. Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb quietly submitted a remarkable 1,359 yard season, where he had to deal with Cooper Rush under center for an extended period of time at the beginning of the season after Dak injured himself in their Week 1 matchup against the Bucs.

Cowboys’ Injuries

Speaking of injuries, the Cowboys are one of the few relatively healthy teams remaining in the postseason. They’re without emerging right tackle Terence Steele, but only have linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and center Tyler Biadasz as questionable as the remaining injury concerns when it comes to major contributors.

Buccaneers’ Injuries 

The Bucs? Yeesh… Mike Evans, Donovan Smith, Vita Vea, Logan Ryan, Carl Nassib, Julio Jones, Carlton Davis III, Mike Edwards, Keanu Neal, and Robert Hainsey are all listed as questionable. Now, given some of them will be just fine since they were held out of the meaningless season finale against the Falcons, but it’s still a major concern and something to keep an eye on going into Sunday.

Center Ryan Jensen, who has yet to play a game this season due to a major knee injury, could return, but there haven’t been any updates up to this point on the Bucs’ opinion of his status for the Wild Card matchup. He could provide the necessary spark the offense needs to surge past these dangerous Cowboys, but who knows if he will be 100%? And if he can’t go, will Robert Hainsey be healthy enough to suit up following his own hamstring injury  suffered Sunday against the Falcons?

All big questions to consider in a playoff game. Every little thing counts, and the Bucs need a lot of things to go their way to win.

Granted, the Cowboys haven’t been good in the playoffs for quite some time—and the Bucs have Tom Brady—but that’s truly the only hope to cling onto. It’s a big piece of hope, however, since the GOAT’s never lost to the Cowboys. Plus, it’s the Cowboys. They’d lose to a team coached by me if it was an important enough game, but not one that I’m willing to bet on.

Prepare For The Worst

My guess is the Bucs will lose to the Cowboys 24-20 in Monday night’s matchup. Of course, now that I’ve picked this, the Bucs will probably win. Because they love to do the opposite of what everyone thinks.

Hopefully, right?

This article first appeared on CLTAMPA.COM and is used with permission.

Creative Loafing

Gambling Odds

Bucs +2.5
Cowboys -2.5
Over/Under 45.5
Betting odds provided by BettingApps.com

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