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Bet on low-scoring affair between injured Cowboys, Buccaneers in Week 1

While Tampa Bay and Dallas both feature potent offenses, injuries to both units should spell value for under bettors.

Action Network Use Only - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) faces a tough test against the Dallas Cowboys amid injuries to his team's offensive line. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/TNS)
Action Network Use Only - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) faces a tough test against the Dallas Cowboys amid injuries to his team's offensive line. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/TNS)Read moreMike Ehrmann / MCT

The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off last season with one of the best games of the entire 2021 campaign. They’ll open the 2022 season against each other, too, but hardly at full strength.

Tampa Bay enters this one as the slight favorite after last year’s 2-point win at home, though this line has bounced around in recent weeks after a tumultuous stretch for both sides.

Here’s how we’re betting the first Sunday night game of the year, which kicks off at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Buccaneers -2.5 (-110), moneyline -140

  2. Cowboys +2.5 (-110), moneyline +115

  3. O/U 50.5 (-110)

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Prediction: The Analysis

Usually when two teams meet in Week 1, it’s the healthiest they’ll be all season. That simply isn’t the case for either of these two squads, who are limping into their season openers following a rash of injuries at key spots.

The Buccaneers’ injury woes have been well documented to this point, but they bear repeating. The biggest names are receivers Chris Godwin (knee) and Russell Gage (hamstring), who are both questionable to play Sunday, but perhaps the biggest losses have come along the offensive line. Center Ryan Jensen (knee) and guard Aaron Stinnie (knee) are out for the year, which exacerbates the offseason losses of Ali Marpet (retired) and Alex Cappa (free agency).

That leaves just two starting linemen from last year’s group – the fewest for a Tom Brady-led team since 2015. That’s especially bad news for the 45-year-old passer, who is notoriously vulnerable to pressure and particularly up the middle. Tampa Bay went 1-3 last year when Brady was sacked three or more times, and they’ve averaged just 21.9 points in eight such games since he joined the team ahead of the 2020 season.

So, the blueprint is there for this Cowboys defense to thwart an otherwise explosive Bucs offense. Can they pull it off? Dallas ranked second in defensive DVOA last season and boasted the NFL’s fourth-highest pressure rate (27.6%) and QB knockdown rate (11.1%). Micah Parsons, fresh off his runner-up finish for Defensive Player of the Year as a rookie, spearheads another talented group this year under aggressive defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

The Cowboys’ offense? That’s another story. This offensive line is facing similar issues after losing La’el Collins and Connor Williams in free agency and All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith (hamstring) to a preseason injury – a scary sight ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the blitz-happy Bucs. Dallas’ offense will also be without three of its top-five receivers from last season, and Dak Prescott (ankle) is dealing with a nagging injury of his own.

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This total has crept down since opening at 51.5, but it hasn’t moved enough to account for the adversity facing both offenses and the tough task they face against these aggressive, star-studded defenses. Expect plenty of pressure on both sides in this one, which should spell a lower-scoring affair than you’d expect given the firepower on the field.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Pick

Under 50.5 (-110 BetMGM)

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