Thursday night provides football fans with a premier matchup in the 2021 NFL Kickoff Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A catastrophic ankle injury in Week 5 ended Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott's season, and he missed all of the 2021 preseason with a shoulder injury. Still, the Cowboys have one of the league's top casts of skill players on offense and are looking to start the year with an upset. Bucs starting safety Jordan Whitehead will miss the game with hamstring injury, and on offense, wide receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown were limited in practice this week with leg injuries.
Kickoff from Raymond James Stadium is set for 8:20 p.m. ET. Tampa Bay is a nine-point favorite in the latest Cowboys vs. Buccaneers odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over-under for total points scored is 52.5. Before making any Buccaneers vs. Cowboys picks, make sure to check out the expert NFL predictions and betting advice from SportsLine's proven computer model.
The model, which simulates every NFL game 10,000 times, is up almost $7,900 for $100 players on top-rated NFL picks since its inception six years ago. It went a sizzling 24-14 on top-rated NFL picks last season, returning more than $800. The model also enters the 2021 season on an incredible 120-78 run on top-rated NFL picks that dates back to the 2017 season.
The model also ranked in the Top 10 on NFLPickWatch four of the past five years on straight-up NFL picks and beat more than 94 percent of CBS Sports Football Pick'em players four times during that span. Anyone who has followed it is way up.
Now, the model has simulated Buccaneers vs. Cowboys in the NFL Kickoff Game 2021 10,000 times and just revealed its NFL expert picks and predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see its picks. Here are several NFL odds and betting trends for Cowboys vs. Bucs:
- Cowboys vs. Buccaneers spread: Tampa Bay -9
- Cowboys vs. Buccaneers over-under: 52.5 points
- Cowboys vs. Buccaneers money line: Dallas +350, Tampa Bay -450
- DAL: Cowboys were a league-worst 5-11 against the spread last season
- TB: Buccaneers were 0-5 ATS in primetime games last year, including playoffs
Why the Buccaneers can cover
After getting off to a slow start for bettors in 2020 home games, Tampa finished the regular season on a run of three consecutive home covers. Prescott is likely to have rust to shake off, but the Bucs aren't going to wait around for that to happen. Tampa's defense blitzed opponents at the third-highest rate last season at 42.3 percent.
Making matters worse for Prescott is starting guard Zack Martin's addition to Dallas' COVID-19 reserve list. Bucs' defensive tackle Vita Vea's emergence as a pass-rusher for Tampa last season should be a major cause for concern with the Cowboys. On paper, Dallas has a formidable group of offensive weapons, but the reality is that in addition to Prescott, starting wide receiver Amari Cooper and starting tight end Blake Jarwin haven't played nearly a year, either, due to injury.
Why the Cowboys can cover
Quarterback Dak Prescott's injury overshadowed just how prolific Dallas was last year on offense. The Cowboys ranked third in scoring (31.5 points per game) through the first four weeks of the season, which came before Prescott got hurt. So, they can score with anybody, and one of those games came against the league's No. 1 scoring defense in the Rams.
Dallas is also expecting a return of a different kind from running back Ezekiel Elliott. He had the worst season of his career last year, but enters the 2021 NFL season in the best shape of his life. With Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and others, Dallas has no shortage of offensive weapons to go toe-to-toe with the Bucs. Add in an improved defense that added LB Micah Parsons, the first of six straight defensive players taken by Dallas to begin the 2021 Draft, and this could be a back-and-forth game where neither team pulls away.
How to make Cowboys vs. Buccaneers picks
SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 59 points. It also says one side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations. Head to SportsLine to see its NFL picks.
So who wins Buccaneers vs. Cowboys? And which side of the spread hits well over 50 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers picks, all from the model that has returned almost $7,900 on top-rated NFL picks, and find out.