The Cowboys took a rough loss last week, but are ready to try and bounce back for their first home game of the season.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are coming off a tough loss against the New York Giants, who recovered and pulled out a late comeback.
It doesn't help that the Buccaneers pulled shenanigans against the victory formation, but it had worked for head coach Greg Schiano in the past (twice when he coached Rutgers).
It's best to look at the way these teams have played so far in order to truly understand the game and see things that others don't see coming.
For the Cowboys, that includes both opening night win, and a loss to a surprising team.
Dallas has plenty of good receivers, but their toughest member is rusty after his spleen injury, which is why the offense struggled against press coverage from the big, athletic corners of Seattle.
We also learned that the Cowboys' defense is pretty much fixed, so long as the offense can help keep it fresh and off the field, hence the ability to shut down an offense that exploded for 41 points the next week.
It's partly because of the improved coverage, and partly because of the pass rush that has been there all along.
With Tampa Bay, we have seen them run a zone defense, easily picked apart by athletic receivers like Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant, or by the sharp routes and "my ball mentality" of receivers like Victor Cruz and Miles Austin.
However, they do a good job of recognizing run plays and collapsing in on the ball carrier.
Also, the offense is better than last year, with the multi-dimensional Doug Martin proving he has the mind and the talent to play at a high level, and Vincent Jackson providing a deep threat if Josh Freeman has time in the pocket.
Can you guess what my three bold predictions are? Much like Sherlock Holmes, I fear I have made my observations seem too simple by explaining my thought process.
1. Tony Romo will throw for 400 yards, three TDs, and no picks.
The Cowboys and Giants have similar offenses, but the Cowboys have an advantage with Kevin Ogletree as their third wide receiver, and DeMarco Murray is a little fresher and a little more talented than Ahmad Bradshaw.
Romo will have options all game against Tampa's zone coverage, and should have no trouble finding open receivers in the holes. With the good run defense of the Buccaneers, the Cowboys will have to rely on him a little more than in past weeks, and he should have a good game.
2. Doug Martin will gain 200 yards from scrimmage, with only 75 of those being rushing yards.
I would call this 150 rushing yards, but with all those weapons Romo has, the Cowboys should jump out to an early lead. Part of why Tampa Bay traded back up into the first round to get Martin is because he is a true three down back, unlike LeGarrette Blount, who was relegated to the bench.
Martin is both a better receiver and pass protector, and should see plenty of action in dump-offs and screen passes as the Bucs try to make something happen. He's still too good to be shut down completely on the ground, even in a blowout.
3. Josh Freeman will be sacked five times and intercepted three times.
Playing from behind will put the Buccaneers in pass mode, and Freeman will be looking to hit Vincent Jackson on a momentum-changing bomb. He should get a big play or two, but for the most part the defense will force him to tuck the ball, or will take the ball away as he tries to force passes during desperation time late in the game.
The Cowboys have played the Buccaneers four times since 2006, and the Cowboys won all of those games. The average margin of victory was 12.75 points per game (15.67 per game if you throw out the 2008 game that Tony Romo missed because of a broken pinkie). This game won't be any different, with the Cowboys winning their home opener 34-20.
You can find the author's last two Cowboys previews on his profile page. You can also just click here for the Giants, or for the Seahawks. He's pretty proud of how he's done so far, and hopes that his newfound access to game replays and coach's film will help him scout future opponents even better. You can follow his prognostication on Facebook (RGDSports@yahoo.com) and Twitter (@RGDSports).
Delivered to your inbox
|Best of Yardbarker||NFL News||MLB News||NBA News||NHL News|
Today's Best Stuff