TNF Preview, Week 1

NFL Will Continue Social Justice Initiatives For New Football Season –  Deadline

It’s been 214 days since we saw a meaningful NFL game. In that game, as in tonight, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on the field. On February 7, it was the Buccaneers taking down the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. Tonight, it’s the Buccaneers welcoming back Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to kick-start a new NFL season.

In case you hadn’t heard, the NFL is back! And tonight’s opening game is a good one. The Cowboys entered the 2020 season with plenty of promise, but a poor defense got them off to a sluggish start despite some all-world offense. Dak, in just four and a half games, threw for 1,856 yards and nine TDs. He was on pace for something fierce, then his ankle gave way. Dak missed the rest of the season and the Cowboys slumped to a 6-10 finish, wondering what might have been.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, welcomed in future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady in 2020, but the team got off to a slow start. The Buccaneers were up-and-down in the early going, sitting at 7-5 near the end of the season and fading from the playoff picture. But it just took a little time to get going, as the Buccaneers rolled off four straight to end the season and make the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the NFC.

Once there, Tom Brady rolled through the Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers to make the Super Bowl. In the biggest game of the season, he found his old friend Rob Gronkowski twice and the Buccaneers bludgeoned the Chiefs 31-9 to win the Super Bowl, Brady’s seventh ring.

The ageless Brady and all the Buccaneers came back for the 2021 season, even adding to the arsenal by signing former Bengals pass-catching whiz Giovanni Bernard. The Cowboys, meanwhile, return a talented core on offense and spent the off-season working on the defense. New Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn has been fixing the scheme and added talented players, like rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, to help turn the tide.

Week 16 Highlights: Bucs vs. Cowboys

There are questions about the Cowboys heading into the game. A shoulder injury kept Dak off the field much of Training Camp, though he appears to be ready to go. And guard Zack Martin will miss the game due to the COVID protocol. But I think this has the potential to be an NFC Championship Game preview. If you’ve read our playoff predictions, you know I have high hopes for the Cowboys in 2021.

But I don’t think it’s the Cowboys’ time yet. The NFL developed the modern Thursday Night opening game in 2002, and since that time it’s featured the defending Super Bowl Champion 16 times. The champs are 13-3 in those games, and I think the Buccaneers make it 14-3. One of the defending champions to lose an opening game—the New York Giants—did so at the hands of the Cowboys, but that was a different time.

I think the game is close and a lot of fun, but ultimately I think Brady gets off to a 1-0 start in defense of his title.

Weekly Picks:

Once again I will risk public humiliation and pick games against my wife. Our picks will appear in this space post preview each Thursday. Below are our fearless picks for Week 1.

Matt’s Picks

Buccaneers Over Cowboys
Falcons Over Eagles
Bills Over Steelers
Bengals Over Vikings
49ers Over Lions
Titans Over Cardinals
Colts Over Seahawks
Washington Over Chargers
Panthers Over Jets
Jaguars Over Texans
Chiefs Over Browns
Patriots Over Dolphins
Packers Over Saints
Broncos Over Giants
Rams Over Bears
Raiders Over Ravens

Lindsay’s Picks

Buccaneers Over Cowboys
Eagles Over Falcons
Steelers Over Bills
Vikings Over Bengals
49ers Over Lions
Cardinals Over Titans
Colts Over Seahawks
Chargers Over Washington
Panthers Over Jets
Texans Over Jaguars
Chiefs Over Browns
Dolphins Over Patriots
Packers Over Saints
Giants Over Broncos
Rams Over Bears
Raiders Over Ravens

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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