On Sunday Night Football, the Buccaneers will take on the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys (11-2) lost just their second game of the season, and both losses came at the hands of their divisional rivals, the New York Giants. The Buccaneers (8-5) are second in the NFC South and winners of five straight. This Sunday Night Football matchup will kick off at 8:30 PM. ET.
The Buccaneers are surging at the right time. They currently hold the 6th seed in the NFC playoff picture. In their final three games they’ll face Dallas, New Orleans, and Carolina. Dallas is the hardest test, but if Tampa Bay can pull of the upset, they’ll control their own playoff destiny.
The Buccaneers defense ranks 21 in the league according to NFL Stats. But, over the last few weeks, the Buccaneers have quietly dominated their opponents. Last week against the Saints, Tampa Bay’s defense picked off Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees three times. Tampa Bay’s opportunistic defense held the Saints to 294 yards of total offense.
On the season, the Buccaneers have 14 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries according to NFL Stats. If the Buccaneers can force the Cowboys into committing turnovers, then they’ll definitely have a shot at the upset.
The Giants (9-4) are right behind the Cowboys (11-2) in the standings. Dallas needs to find their offensive groove from earlier in the season, but that won’t be easy. Dak Prescott is a rookie, and for most of the season, he played above that level. But, as the season went on teams got more footage of him, and now opponents know what to expect.
Against the Giants, Prescott had two interceptions. Prescott tried to connect with Dez Bryant in the game nine times, but Bryant finished the game with only one reception for 10 yards. If Tampa Bay can recreate some of these results, the Cowboys’ offense will seriously struggle.
The Buccaneers’ run defense is near the bottom third of the league. Tampa Bay ranks 21st in rushing defense according to NFL Stats. If you have a weak run defense and you’re facing the Cowboys, that’s a problem. Tampa Bay needs to find a way to mitigate the Cowboy’s rushing attack. If they can force turnovers, and force Dallas to get away from their rushing attack, that’s the Buccaneers best option.
The NFL is a passing league and the passing attack of the Cowboys is far below par. Dallas ranks 20th in passing offense. Prescott’s numbers are solid; he’s efficient. On the season, he’s passed for 20 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. Those are solid numbers. But, like the Giants did last week, if the Cowboy’s offense commits turnovers, it’s not the type of offense that can quickly make a comeback. They’re more methodical. And, there lies the problem.
The Cowboys will need to truly rely on their defense moving forward into the playoffs. More and more teams are going to focus on the Cowboys’ rushing attack and dare Prescott to throw the ball down field. So far this season, the Cowboys have managed to keep games close with a “bend but don’t break” style of defense. Dallas ranks 5th in points allowed per game according to NFL Stats. So, while their defense may give up yards, opponents aren’t scoring much. This trend will need to continue into the playoffs if Dallas has aspirations making a deep playoff run.
Cowboys Vs Buccaneers Betting Lines
The Buccaneers are facing Dallas at exactly the right time. Dallas is vulnerable and they’re facing their first real adversity of the season. The Cowboys have been far ahead of the pack for most of the season, while the Buccaneers have had to crawl their way up from the bottom. The Buccaneers are a below average offense team, but Dallas’ weak pass defense and the Buccaneers ability to create turnovers will provide Buccaneers Quarterback Jameis Winston ample opportunity to keep this game close. Look for the Buccaneers to cover the spread in a close game.
Play: Buccaneers +7 @ BetOnline.ag