Cowboys-Buccaneers Preview: Too Much Embarrassment at Risk

We’re looking at the final matchup of Super Wild Card Weekend, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys, with the winner getting the right to travel to San Francisco on Sunday. The 12-4 Cowboys sit as the top wild card team and are battling lofty expectations against the Buccaneers, who are the NFC South champs but sit just at 8-9.

There are a few things that most of the general public would enjoy more than yet another Cowboys playoff collapse, especially in this fashion. Going up against Tom Brady in his building, who is 7-0 against the Cowboys in his career, will be the only measuring stick to determine the worthiness of Dallas’ season.

Cowboys @ Buccaneers Game Information

  • Location: Raymond James Stadium | Tampa, FL
  • Time: 8:15 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN

The Buccaneers come into tonight pretty banged up as they have nine players listed as questionable, most notably felt in the trenches. The offensive line could be in disarray, with their starting left tackle and center both listed as questionable, and their starting left guard already listed as doubtful.

Star nose tackle Vita Vea stands out on the injury report, and his presence, or lack thereof, would be very noticeable, but there is optimism about him playing tonight. Dallas comes in nearly at full health. 

Cowboys @ Buccaneers Game Odds on FanDuel

  • Spread: Cowboys -2.5 (-118) | Buccaneers +2.5 (-104)
  • Moneyline: Cowboys (-146) | Buccaneers (+124)
  • Total: Over 45.5 (-106) | Under 45.5 (-114)

I am rarely one to make a case for the Cowboys, like never, but I don’t get why they are just being counted out by many tonight. Yes, it’s Tom Brady, but this Cowboys team was four wins better than the Bucs this season which often looked like one of the worst teams in the league.

Dak Prescott hasn’t been great, and the defense has regressed compared to how they looked in the first half of the season, but Tampa hasn’t beaten anyone this year. Seven of their eight wins came against non-playoff teams, with that outlier coming in the season opener in Dallas.

Betting against Brady is never smart, which is why many don’t do it, but the Cowboys are the better team that has reached a higher level of football many times this season. I’ll lay the 2.5 with Dallas, but won’t be heartbroken to see them get mocked in a potential loss. 

Cowboys @ Buccaneers Prop Picks on FanDuel

  • Ezekiel Elliott ATDS (+115) | Over 12.5 Rushing Attempts (-122)
  • T.Y. Hilton OVER 21.5 Receiving Yards (-113)
  • Leonard Fournette OVER 38.5 Rushing Yards (-113)
  • Cade Otton UNDER 24.5 Receiving Yards (-113)

Before last week when he had a limited workload, Ezekiel Elliott had a rushing touchdown in nine consecutive games. Over that nine-game stretch, he had 15+ carries in eight of them. I don’t anticipate seeing Dallas scrapping what they’ve been doing all year and engaging in a passing shootout with Brady. Running the ball has worked well for them, so we’ll look to play these two Zeke props as buy-low opportunities.

T.Y. Hilton has had more of an impact on this offense than most might realize. The perception is that he was just brought in as a deep ball threat, but he’s seen nine targets over the past two games and has averaged about 40 yards per game as a Cowboy. Plus, he can easily eclipse this total in a single reception. We’ll ride his over tonight.

The Buccaneers have the league’s worst rushing offense, but all we hear in the media is that you have to run at Micah Parsons repeatedly. That’s exactly what the Bucs did in Week 1, where Leonard Fournette rushed 21 times for 127 yards. He’s also gone over 38.5 yards in four of his past six, so we’ll lean to his over here.

We’re also looking to fade Cade Otton tonight, as he’s gone under this mark in four straight weeks, and Dallas’ defense has allowed the sixth-fewest receiving yards to opposing tight ends this season.