For the second straight year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys are kicking off the regular season against one another. Although this time around, the contest will take place in Arlington. While it feels like deja vu in some ways, plenty has changed over the last year. The Buccaneers are no longer the reigning Super Bowl champions, Bruce Arians is no longer the head coach in Tampa and the Cowboys parted ways with several starters on offense. Oh, and Tom Brady retired, unretired, and took time off during the preseason. Could that affect Tampa Bay in the season opener?
Both teams are still expecting to be contenders this season, and it all starts on Sunday night. The Cowboys are 15-5 against the Buccaneers, including postseason, and have won seven out of the last nine games in the series. Ryan Succop nailed a 36-yard game-winning field goal to give the Buccaneers a 31-29 win last year. What will happen this time around?
Below, we will break down this matchup from a gambling perspective and examine the line movement, Over/Under and player props to consider. First, here's how you can watch Sunday's matchup.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
- Buccaneers: WR Russell Gage (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE; WR Chris Godwin (knee) QUESTIONABLE; CB Zyon McCollum (hamstring) OUT
- Cowboys: WR Michael Gallup (knee) OUT; S Jayron Kearse QUESTIONABLE
The Buccaneers have always been favored in this matchup. The line opened at TB -2.5 on May 12. It dropped to TB -2 on June 21, but popped back up to TB -2.5 on June 29, before again dropping back to TB -2 July 6. From there, the line began to fall. It got to TB -1.5 on Aug. 14, and then TB -1 on Aug. 21. Then, it began to rise again. By Sept. 5, it reached TB -2, and then rose another half point this Tuesday, where it remained.
The pick: Cowboys +2.5. The Cowboys covered vs. the Buccaneers last year, losing by just two points. This time around, I'm taking them to win outright.
Listen, Brady deserves every benefit of the doubt when it comes to his weird offseason. I don't think anyone would be surprised to seem him come out and look like the Brady of old. With that said, I want to see how this offensive line performs with Robert Hainsey and Luke Goedeke in the middle. Buccaneers wide receivers Russell Gage and Chris Godwin are both questionable to play due to injury, and while I would guess both suit up, you have to wonder how effective they will be. Give me the Cowboys to come out and find the win column running through Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
This total opened at 52 on May 12, where it remained for some time. It fell to 51 on Aug. 10, and then to 50.5 on Aug. 13. We saw another drop to 50 on Aug. 22. It rose to 51 this Tuesday for a moment before dropping back down to 50. Wednesday, the total saw some weird action. It rose to 50.5, fell to 50, then rose a full point to 51. Thursday, it was back down to 50.5.
The pick: Under 50.5. These two teams were both in the top half of the league when it came to hitting the Over last year, per Team Rankings. But last year is last year, and both teams have banged-up wide receivers. Could we see both offenses rely on the ground? I don't consider this a best bet, but I have a lean to the Under.
Tom Brady props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -224, Under +159)
Passing yards: 275.5 (Over -101, Under -135)
Passing attempts: 38.5 (Over -121, Under -113)
Passing completions: 25.5 (Over -113, Under -121)
Longest passing completion: 38.5 (Over -111, Under -123)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -133, Under -103)
I see zero value on Brady's touchdown number. There were only five games last year where he did not throw at least two touchdowns, but I'm not going to make a -224 bet. Some may see Brady's passing yards line and immediately take the Over, but there's a reason why the Under is juiced for the first game of 2022. With his injured wideouts, Brady may need Julio Jones to turn back the clock Sunday if he wants to hit that Over.
It's fascinating that Vegas is hesitant to put any plus-numbers on Brady's props, but I like him to throw an interception.
Dak Prescott props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -151, Under +110)
Passing yards: 270.5 (Over -101, Under -135)
Passing attempts: 35.5 (Over -163, Under +118)
Passing completions: 24.5 (Over -119, Under -115)
Longest passing completion: 36.5 (Over -121, Under -113)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over +104, Under -142)
Prescott averaged 278.1 passing yards per game in 2021, which was his lowest mark in three years. We have a slight lean to the Over when it comes to his passing yards in Week 1. There were only five games last year where Prescott did not throw at least two touchdowns, and only six games where he didn't attempt 36 passes. Do with that what you will, but it's tough to project how this Cowboys' offense is going to look without Amari Cooper, Ced Wilson and Gallup.
Prescott's passing props aren't something I'm champing at the bit to bet this week, but the Over on passing touchdowns and him to throw at least one interception is intriguing. I'm more interested in the Dallas running backs, which we will get to below.
Ezekiel Elliott rushing yards: Over 46.5 (-119). I think Dallas runs through Zeke and Pollard both on the ground and through the air on Sunday night. At least, that's what I would do if I was in charge. Elliott averaged 58.9 rushing yards per game last year, which actually marked a career-low for him. Still, it was above this 46.5-yard line. Jerry Jones said in July that Elliott "gotta be our" in the run game in 2022.
CeeDee Lamb total receptions: Over 5.5 (-131). There's a new No. 1 in Dallas, and I predict he catches at least six passes on Sunday night. Last year in the season opener vs. Tampa Bay, Lamb caught seven passes for 104 yards and one touchdown. He caught at least six passes in half of his games played last year.
Leonard Fournette total receptions: Under 4.5 (-123). This line feels a bit inflated. Fournette did record 4.9 receptions per game last season, but could Rachaad White be the new receiving back in Tampa?
Tony Pollard total receptions: Over 2.5 (-149). This line confuses me a bit, as Pollard caught at least three passes in eight of 15 games played last year. Not only that, but many are anticipating him to play a larger role on offense in 2022. Jones' comments about his running backs left many worried if Pollard would get the touches he deserves, but the Cowboys' owner has also said multiple times that his younger back has to get the ball, and that there's plenty of opportunities for him. Logic tells me those touches are coming in the passing game. Pollard also caught four passes vs. the Buccaneers in Week 1 last year.