Week 1 betting: Dallas Cowboys -7½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tuesday, 07 September 2021 17:37 EST

NFL Opening Day 2021 bettingSo if you’re reading this, you’re probably not heeding NFLbets’ most strident warning about betting week 1, namely You Do Not Bet on Week 1 NFL Games. Too little knowledge plus too much leeway for upsets equals enough unknown variables to make betting week 1 akin to straight-up gambling.

But hey, the truth is that NFLbets can’t take this reasonable advice either. Who can stay away from wagering on real football after months of bending the mind on these preseason proposition bets? And thanks to the schedule-makers and sportsbooks, the 2021 NFL season will open with a real potential money drain, i.e.

Dallas Cowboys -7½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Up until a week ago, Cowboys -6½ was still available at some sportsbooks, but the Cowboys are looking at some potential holes on the offensive line. OG Zach Martin is out for the opener due to Covid protocols as is his backup Brandon Knight. OT Ty Nsekhe has been limited in practice this week.

Additionally, history says that Dallas is looking at quite the challenge in facing a defending Super Bowl champion on Opening Day Thursday. Since the now-tradition began in 2006,

  • favorites are 13-5 SU/10-4-4 ATS;
  • home teams are 15-3 SU and 11-3-4 ATS; and
  • the defending Super Bowl champion is a whopping 13-1 SU/9-2-3 ATS.

Furthermore, only twice has the home team lost both SU and ATS on NFL Opening Day: The New England Patriots against Kansas City in 2017 and the Chicago Bears against Green Bay in ’19.

So even before we get to the specifics of this year’s Opening Day game, things look dark for the Cowboys. Assuming that the Buccaneers are a reasonable facsimile of the team that closed the 2020 season on 8-0 SU (6-2 ATS) and 9-2 (8-3 ATS) runs – an as has been well hyped already, the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first ever Super Bowl champion to return all 22 starters – Dallas is in some trouble.

Not only is Ezekiel Elliott vital to the Cowboys’ offensive plans and not only will the run blocking be at least wounded if not crippled, but the Bucs were the no. 1 defense against the run in 2020, not to mention top-10 in total offense, first downs allowed, turnovers generated, tackles for loss … essentially all numbers measuring the potential suffering of an underprepared offense.

As for the Cowboys defense, the bottom-5 unit of 2020 has been rebooted but is anyone ready to suggest that Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette et al will be stopped by any but the top defenses this season? And does anyone believe Dallas has improved that much?

A 7½-point spread may generally be a lot to cover in any NFL game but at any other point in the season, the offering would be jumped at what with the Cowboys’ likely patchwork OL. If you must bet on the Opening Day game, take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -7½ vs Dallas.  

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.