Cowboys vs. Buccaneers: 6 things to know about Week 1 matchup

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The season has finally arrived for the Dallas Cowboys, who are set to take on the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All eyes will be on Dak Prescott as he sees his first game action since his devasting ankle injury last year, and he’ll be heading into the contest without RG Zack Martin, who is out due to COVID-19.

A difficult task has now been made even tougher for the Cowboys, Martin is their best offensive lineman, and the Buccaneers employ one of the top defensive lines in the league. No one said it was supposed to be easy. Here are six more things to know about the Cowboys-Buccaneers as they get ready to kick off the NFL season.

Buccaneers return all 22 starters from their Super Bowl team

For the first time since 1977, before the salary-cap era, a championship team brings back all their starters. Tampa Bay had work to do to get some of their key players re-signed for the 2021 season, and they got it done. The Buccaneers kept all their free agent key pieces, re-signing LB Lavonte David, WR Chris Godwin, OLB Shaquil Barrett, TE Rob Gronkowski, and DT Ndamukong Suh to get the band back together for another possible Super Bowl run. It was an impressive feat, considering the quality of players. David, Godwin, Barrett, and Suh are among the top players at their positions.

Cowboys unveiling a new defense

On the flip side, the Cowboys' defense will have a much different look and feel from last season. Dan Quinn comes in to right the ship as the new DC and there will be at least five new starters, and many more significant contributors on the defense. Rookies Micah Parsons and Osa Odighizuwa are slated to start in their first NFL games, while veteran DE Randy Gregory finally gets unleashed. It’ll be a difficult task to slow a great Buccaneers offense, but there’s no time like the present to find out about the new-look defense.

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers don’t win them all, but they’re riding an impressive winning streak

Brady came to the Buccaneers and won a seventh title last year, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The veteran QB lost his season opener and there was a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9, proving the Buccaneers can be defeated. The team was just 7-5 after losing on Thanksgiving weekend. However, Tampa Bay didn’t lose after their bye week last year and have an eight-game winning streak carrying over to the new season. That streak included three road games in the playoffs and a dominating Super Bowl performance.

Cowboys are no strangers to opening against the Super Bowl champs

The year was 2012 and the New York Giants were coming off their championship when the Cowboys went into New Jersey and beat their division rivals to start the season. That game was played on a Wednesday night to accommodate televising the Democratic National Convention. Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and Kevin Ogletree led the Cowboys to a 24-17 upset of the Giants. The bright lights are nothing new to the Cowboys, who will not be intimidated by the magnitude of the moment.

Buccaneers’ offense is one of the most prolific in the league

The RB tandem of Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette are among the best in the league, combining for 1,345 yards and 14 scores last season. It’s the WR room, however, that is the most dangerous part of Tampa Bay’s offense. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are as good a trio as one will find in the NFL, while second-year WR Tyler Johnson is also capable of making big plays. Evans has seven straight 1,000 yard seasons to start his career and Godwin was on pace for his second consecutive 1,000 yard season, but an injury limited him to just 12 games. Brown is the elder statesman of the group and started getting his game back at the tail of last year after missing the first half of the season. The former Steeler is a Hall of Fame player who meshes well with Brady. That’s four top-notch options in the passing game and the Cowboys will have difficulty slowing them down.

Cowboys can match the offensive firepower

There aren’t many offenses that have the firepower to match the Buccaneers, but the Cowboys can make that claim. Prescott leads an impressive offense that includes an RB duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, who might be the best tandem in the league. Elliott has looked outstanding this offseason and Pollard has shown big-play ability that makes him a perfect complimentary back. And much like the Buccaneers, Dallas’ receiver room can stake a claim to being one of the best in the league. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup are going to be difficult to stop, especially with Prescott back throwing them the ball. Cooper is the No. 1 receiver, but many expect Lamb to take the jump and become option 1B for Prescott. Gallup is the ‘third’ WR and has a 1,000-yard season under his belt. If this game turns into a shootout, the Cowboys have the ability to stick with the Buccaneers, which is not something many teams can lay claim to.

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