Before I start, I just want to say that I totally believe Tampa Bay will win this game, but should Dallas pull off the upset, I wouldn’t be that surprised. The more I look at this game, the more I see factors pointing in favor of the Cowboys.
Obviously, the first one is Brady’s struggles in September. While I know this narrative is totally overblown, and he’s not nearly as bad in the first four weeks as some people make him out to be, there is a clear difference between Brady’s play in September versus his play in later weeks. Over the last four seasons, Brady has a record of 11-5 in September. While that might not sound too bad at all, it’s a win percentage of 68.8 percent, compared to 75.5 percent in non-September games over that same stretch. Brady has also lost in Week 1 twice over the last four seasons — in 2020 at New Orleans and in2017 against Kansas City. Obviously, we can’t base the entire game on that slight discrepancy. However, there is further evidence to show faith in the Cowboys.
For one, Brady has stated that he’s feeling anxious for tonight’s game. To be fair, he said that he feels this way before every season opener, but tonight’s game is a little extra special for the G.O.A.T. It’s his 300th career start! That’s a little extra flavor. Fun little side note, Brady’s first career start was against Peyton Manning. His 100th career start was against the Cowboys. His 200th start was against Manning and now his 300th start is once again against the Cowboys. Nonetheless, Brady is becoming just the second quarterback in NFL history with at least 300 regular season games started under center (Brett Favre). I guarantee there will be a ceremony honoring him before the game, and I guarantee that Brady will not want that kind of attention while he’s trying to get in the zone. It could throw him off. Not that pressure has ever gotten to Brady, but a bunch of fanfare surrounding one guy is never great for focus.
The Cowboys shouldn’t be taken lightly either. Are we forgetting that Dak Prescott was on pace for nearly 7,000 yards before getting hurt? That offense can score with the best of them. While the defense is still a giant question mark, if Micah Parsons and company can improve just a little bit in 2021, that offense could carry them to a lot of high-scoring wins.
I know Zack Martin is out, which really hurts the Cowboys offensive line. I know Ezekiel Elliott has regressed the last few seasons, but Tony Pollard has looked really good. The Bucs are undoubtedly the better all-around team, but the possibilities of Brady starting the season slower than normal, plus all the fanfare he’ll receive prior to the game potentially throwing him off his groove, provide hope for Cowboys’ fans that their team can start the season off with a road win against the defending Super Bowl champs.
That being said, Bucs by six.